March 15, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) The Big Ten basketball tournament interrupted Wisconsin's first spring football practice under its new coach.

Once the basketball Badgers wrapped up the title and a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, the video boards were turned off at Camp Randall Stadium and coach Paul Chryst put his football team back to work.

''Congratulations to the basketball team. That was fun,'' Chryst said Sunday night after holding his first practice as Wisconsin's new leader. ''It was fun for us to get on the field ... It was a good start.''

There is so much to get used to - again - for a team that is on its third head coach in four springs.

There will be a typical focus on fundamentals, though ''certainly there's a schematic end to it, certainly more offensively and special teams than defensively,'' Chryst said. ''Learning and understanding the `what to do.' And then at the end, the most important thing is how to do it, and that's what we've got to spend a lot of time doing.''

Chryst does offer some stability in that he's back at Wisconsin following three seasons as the head coach at Pittsburgh. He left the Badgers in 2011, when he coordinated a powerhouse offense led by quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball.

Back then, Joel Stave was watching from the sideline as a redshirt quarterback in his first season in Madison. Now that he has been reunited with Chryst, Stave has been named the starter for spring drills.

It's a little more continuity for an offense that has to replace star running back Melvin Gordon. Normally, it isn't that big a deal for a quarterback who is 21-6 as a starting quarterback to be named the starter by the new coach.

But at Wisconsin, the quarterback position had been handled like a roulette wheel under the previous coach, Gary Andersen. The previous two fall camps began with open competitions at quarterback. Tanner McEvoy began last season as the starter before Stave reclaimed the starting job by year's end - though McEvoy still alternated in at times as a running threat.

There is no ambiguity to start with Chryst, known as a quarterback guru.

''Well, Joel is our starter,'' he said when asked how he would split reps at the position in the spring. He had six quarterbacks at his first practice.

''We'll split it up. I don't know if we've got percentages, but Joel will take the 1s,'' Chryst said before recounting the rest of the depth chart. Bart Houston and D.J. Gillins were to split up the second-team reps.

Stave has been inconsistent during his three seasons at Wisconsin. The passing game struggled for the most part last year.

But Stave is coming off a hopeful outing at the Outback Bowl in January, when Wisconsin beat Auburn 34-31 in overtime. Stave was 14 of 27 for 121 yards, and three interceptions in the first half. But he did make a couple big throws on a 64-yard drive to send the game into overtime.

''It's nice knowing that you're going to be working with the first team. Obviously it's still a competition but what Coach Chryst always says is you want to try to make that competition against yourself,'' Stave said. ''Spring is a tremendous opportunity to learn the offense even better, and to just really build chemistry with the guys.''

It appears that he won't have to worry about competing against McEvoy, who spent his first practice this spring at safety. McEvoy was also moved to safety in 2013 before playing quarterback primarily last season.

McEvoy in 2013 also saw time at receiver. He might get reps there, too this spring, Chryst said.

''I think he's a guy that's got some pretty special abilities. He can contribute in a lot of ways to this team,'' Chyst said. ''For us to be a good team, we're going to need production out of him.''

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