Report: Stave practices with Badgers’ starters

BY foxsports • September 19, 2012

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema wanted to hide who would start at quarterback for Saturday's game, but it appears he won't be able to keep it under wraps all week.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that redshirt freshman Joel Stave worked with the first-team offense during Tuesday's practice, making him the likely starter for Wisconsin's game against UTEP.

Danny O'Brien had been the Badgers' starter for the first three games but was pulled at halftime last week with his team trailing Utah State, 14-3. Stave played the second half and completed 2 of 6 passes for 15 yards. He handed the ball off 19 times, and Wisconsin came back to win, 16-14.

O'Brien completed 5 of 10 passes for 63 yards but fumbled the ball away for the second straight game.

Bielema did not make the quarterbacks available to the media during offensive player availability on Tuesday. He said during a Wednesday morning radio appearance on SiriusXM that he didn't want his quarterbacks to field questions about who would start.

"One of the things I've learned as a head coach, our kids deal with enough pressure on Saturdays," Bielema said. "I try to alleviate anything during the course of the week. So what I don't want a kid to do is have to answer a bunch of questions."

This season, O'Brien has completed 44 of 71 passes (62.0 percent) for 454 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. But during six quarters against Oregon State and Utah State, he led Wisconsin to just 10 points.

Abbrederis to play: Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis returned to practice Tuesday after missing last week's game with a mild concussion.

"Abby's doing great," Badgers wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni said. "He's full go. We're rolling."

Despite not playing the past six quarters, Abbrederis is tied for the team lead in receptions with seven and leads the team in receiving yards (110) and touchdown catches (two).

He is not listed on either kick return or punt return duty as the coaching staff eases him back into action. Last season, Abbrederis ranked third in the country in punt return average (15.8 yards).

A week ago, Kenzel Doe filled in by returning a punt 82 yards for a touchdown that swung the momentum back toward Wisconsin against Utah State. Doe is listed as the No. 1 punt returner again this week.

"Abby's a pretty good punt returner," Azzanni said. "It's good to have two good ones back there. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I don't think Abby's fired."

Added Abbrederis: "Whatever coach's decision is, I'll do. I love having the ball in my hands. Whatever he wants me to do, that's what I'm going to do."

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