Cast of many waits to fill Stocco's shoes

It wasn't too long ago that University of Wisconsin football fans dreaded the prospect of life after the departure of senior quarterback John Stocco.

It wasn't too long ago that University of Wisconsin football fans dreaded the prospect of life after the departure of senior quarterback John Stocco.

Of course, many of them were probably the same fans who complained about Stocco following his first year of starting as a sophomore.

But the separated shoulder suffered by Stocco against Penn State provided a glimpse into the post-Stocco future, which does not look nearly as bleak as it once did.

After a sneak peak of the coming attractions at the position, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Paul Chryst can rest a bit easier going into the offseason.

Junior backup Tyler Donovan showed what he could do in leading the Badgers to wins over Iowa and Buffalo -- games in which the offense hardly missed a beat.


Behind the scenes, the extra practice time given in the last month to redshirt freshman Dustin Sherer, the third quarterback, might have been almost as valuable.

And still waiting in the wings is the wild card, Allan Evridge, the transfer from Kansas State who is finally getting some real work in the bowl practices.

"Obviously, with T.D. having done it and me being a part of it - you always feel good when guys have game experience," Chryst said. "I think there is a good pool (of candidates). I've liked the growth of Dustin as well this year."

Making the most of it

Bowl practices have afforded Chryst the luxury of looking ahead a bit, but he doesn't want to go overboard. Evridge and freshman Scott Tolzien have gotten extra work in scrimmage situations.

"I think we've got a small window to get more reps for more guys," Chryst said. "I think you can make a mistake if you make too much of it. But it is a little window."

After a season spent mostly watching and learning, Evridge is happy for any table scraps tossed his way.

"It's definitely a little different," he said. "I haven't played in about a year. Any time you get out there and play football, it's a lot of fun. You forget how much you miss it until you get back."


Evridge watched home games from the stands, usually sitting alone in the parents section. He was not allowed to travel with the team and cannot attend the bowl game in Orlando, Fla., instead going home to Papillon, Neb., to spend time with his family and girlfriend.

"Being a military kid, I've learned to take every experience and try to turn it into the best," Evridge said. "So, I'm going to enjoy my time with my family."

Waiting in the wings

Evridge, a left-hander, has displayed a strong arm with a quick release and good accuracy. Although he's got a stocky build at 6-foot-1 and around 215 pounds, he moves well and throws well on the run.

He estimated he spent only three or four weeks as the scout team quarterback, usually when the opposing quarterback was also a threat to run, such as Iowa's Drew Tate. The rest of the time, Evridge was observing the offense, trying to soak up as much as he could.

"I definitely got a pretty solid foundation going into the spring," Evridge said. "It's been a great experience. The best part of it is just watching my teammates and seeing them put up wins in the win column. They did a great job."

Evridge said the more he got to know his new teammates, the harder it was to watch and not contribute. He never got identified sitting in the stands, though he did strike up some conversations with parents.

"The good thing about the stands, I could catch signals and at least try and keep in the game," he said. "Watching it on TV, it was more as a spectator. I tried to get involved as much as I could. The reality is, it was like the average guy watching it on the couch, probably a little more insight, but not a whole lot."


Chryst said it's still early in the process to evaluate Evridge, but did have some observations: "I think he's a guy that likes the competition. You like that in him. ... We haven't done a reinstallation (of the offense), so he's still getting familiar with things. I think he's the type who will be a good student of the game. ... He is pretty athletic."

Open season in 2007

Since Donovan never lacked confidence, Chryst said he hasn't seen a dramatic change after playing well the last two games.

"That was part of the beauty of him, he's kind of always had that self-confidence," Chryst said. "Now, I think it legitimizes that confidence."

While Sherer is often the guy that gets overlooked, Chryst said, "I think that's just perfect for him. I think he's got some natural abilities and just (a better) understanding. Any position, when you're not thinking as much and just play, it should help your performance."

The last time the Badgers had a somewhat-open quarterback competition was going into 2004, when Stocco was a sophomore, Donovan was a redshirt freshman and Sean Lewis, now a tight end, was a true freshman. Matt Schabert, who would have been a senior, transferred prior to that season.

The quarterback group going into next season -- including Tolzien, who is being redshirted, and incoming freshman James Stallons, from Macomb, Mich. -- appears to be a lot stronger overall.

"Before John got his chance, there were people wondering who the next guy would be," Evridge said. "They were wondering who this Stocco kid was and he came in and did a great job. With somebody like coach Chryst as a coach, it definitely gives you a better chance at having another John Stocco or somebody else who can perform.


"It was great seeing (Donovan) get in there and do a great job and establish himself as definitely a threat and somebody who can definitely get the job done. It reassures and reaffirms, whoever's in there next year, we're going to be in good hands."

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