Evridge on hot seat against visiting Lions

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoThe clock may be ticking for Allan Evridge.After an 0-2 start to the Big Ten schedule, the Badgers’ quarterback has been the subject of controversy as a result of his less than stellar play. This weekend the senior has an opportunity to prove himself once and for all, but against the nation’s No. 6 team, it won’t be easy.Undefeated Penn State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) comes to Camp Randal Stadium Saturday as Wisconsin (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten) tries to avoid a 0-3 start in conference play after losing heartbreakers against Michigan and Ohio State at the start of the season.Badgers head coach Bret Bielema said in his Monday press conference the team’s starting quarterback needed to step up his play and, despite the tough matchup this weekend, the UW offense believes Evridge is capable of doing so.“I’ve got all the confidence in Allan,” freshman running back John Clay said. “People doubt him, but he’s just one or two plays from doing his job.”In both of the Badgers’ losses the team’s hopes were dashed after missed passes. Last Saturday against Ohio State, the quarterback threw an interception in the game’s final minute when Wisconsin needed just a field goal to tie the game up.“I’ve got confidence in him,” receiver David Gilreath said. “I don’t doubt him at all.”Though there was some speculation Evridge might soon be benched in favor of junior Dustin Sherer, it doesn’t appear that a switch will take place anytime soon.“We’re going to ride Allan ’til the season’s over with,” Clay said. “We’re gonna stick with our main guy Allan.”Evridge has completed just 51.7 percent of his passes in the team’s last three games and has thrown three interceptions in that span.“Allan’s been good in several areas, and there’s other areas he needs to continue to improve upon,” Bielema said. “We’re not really evaluating a second quarterback.”“We’re not going to put anybody out there that we feel won’t give us the best opportunity to [win].”And while it may be the quarterback taking the heat right now, the rest of the offense understands it needs to shape up as well.“I think everybody has a sense of urgency to step their game up,” Gilreath said. “We all feel like we’re on a short leash.”Against Ohio State, the offense continued the pattern of dropped passes and missed opportunities that have plagued them this season.“We just didn’t finish our plays; that’s what we’re focusing in on now,” Clay said. “As a unit, we feel like we’re just missing one or two plays or one or two drives.”Wisconsin is now 0-2 in Big Ten play for the first time since the 2002 season when the team lost its first three conference games before finishing the season with a league record of 2-6.An already difficult start to the schedule now gets more difficult as the team prepares to play the Nittany Lions this weekend. Although this weekend’s game will be another challenge for UW, a talented opponent gives the team a chance to make a statement, according to some of the Badgers.“We can’t look back now,” Gilreath said. “This game right here could put us back in the ranks.”Gilreath added he’d rather play against a top team at this point, as opposed to one of the conference’s weaker squads.“There’s nobody else you’d rather play,” Gilreath said. “If we take them down … it can give us a boost of confidence.”Although the two difficult losses have left the team disappointed and frustrated, the Badgers will be motivated to prove something Saturday against the No. 6 team in the land, a team that beat the Badgers 38-7 in Happy Valley a year ago.“We’re motivated,” Clay said. “We want to show everybody that we can finish a game off right.”Now with their backs against the wall and facing a devastating start to the conference season, Wisconsin is aware of the implications of a loss this weekend.Gilreath put it best: “I think this game’s a do-or-die.”last_img