The Curious Case of Joel Stave

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Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more frustrating/bizarre for Wisconsin Badgers football fans, a confounding situation involving quarterback Joel Stave unfolded Tuesday.

In the morning, Wisconsin officials announced that Stave would be out indefinitely with an injury in his throwing shoulder. This seemed to make sense, considering how many questioned head coach Gary Andersen’s decision to leave him on the bench while Tanner McEvoy struggled against LSU. Plus, shoulder problems had sidelined Stave in the past.

However, the story took a wild U-turn late in the afternoon, when Andersen told the media after practice that Stave in fact was not injured, but instead seems to suffering from a case of the “yips.”

“He has not re-injured anything,” Andersen said of the morning press release. “When he gets himself to the point where he’s ready to play, he’ll be ready to play. ‘Injured’ is probably a bad word, I guess, of choice by me that I decided to use in the press release.”

Stave confirmed that his shoulder wasn’t injured, and that he simply was having a hard time throwing the ball.

“Structurally everything is good in my shoulder,” Stave said. “Right now my arm is just not working the way I’d like it to, I guess. I don’t know what it is.”

This seems especially odd (as if it wasn’t strange enough already), considering that Stave reportedly was throwing more accurately than McEvoy during spring practices, but his sudden issues mentally could at least partially explain why Andersen and the coaching staff chose to go with McEvoy as the starter over Stave.

As baffling as Stave’s problem with the “yips” may be, it is still better than him being injured. While the reports of him being injured led to fears that he might miss the rest of the year, it now sounds like he could return to action as soon as the third game of the season.

These conflicting reports were even more perplexing given that it came on the heels of contradictory statements made regarding running back Melvin Gordon’s injury/non-injury against LSU this past weekend.

This has caused many to lash out at the coaching staff, especially Andersen, over all this miscommunication.

While fans have every right to be upset over the Gordon debacle, anger over the Stave situation might not be quite as warranted.

When deciding to announce that Stave was injured, it was likely done as an attempt to shield him from criticism. The thought process was likely that fans would be more understanding if his shoulder was hurt than if they learned that he had the “yips.” While the coaching staff has been misguided in its reasoning (whether it be my theory or not) to initially report that Stave was injured, it’s hard to believe that anything sinister was going on behind the scenes. Andersen has never given the impression that he’s the type of coach to perpetrate something like that.

That being said, hopefully this is the end of injury misreports from the Wisconsin football team.

Given all that’s happened over the past week, Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium can’t come fast enough for Badgers fans.



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