MADISON, Wis. (AP) Melvin Gordon needs some help in Wisconsin's backfield, and coach Gary Andersen is hoping someone seizes the Badgers' unsettled quarterback spot.
So far, neither Tanner McEvoy, who won the starting job because of his threat as a runner, nor Joel Stave has been the answer, leaving the Badgers with a one-dimensional offense. Gordon had 259 yards rushing in Saturday's 20-14 loss Saturday at Northwestern.
McEvoy and Stave will play this week when the Badgers (3-2, 0-1) host Illinois (3-3, 0-2).
''That's the direction that we potentially can move, I hope, as we go forward, to play within the strengths of Joel, play within the strengths of Tanner,'' Andersen said Monday. ''And then, quite frankly, if one of them turns around and runs away with it and is more productive, then that's the direction that you go.''
McEvoy, who spent most of last season at safety after a short stint at wide receiver, was yanked after four ineffective series against the Wildcats. He completed 4 of 10 passes for 24 yards with one interception.
Stave, who started all 13 games last season and passed for 2,494 yards and 22 touchdowns, then struggled in relief. He completed 8 of 19 passes for 114 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, including a costly pick on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line with 3:55 left and Wisconsin trailing 20-7.
Andersen said using two quarterbacks will not necessitate major changes to the offensive scheme.
''Tanner can run our offense and he can also give us the flavor of some of the option stuff that he's done, which is great, without adding new plays right now, just move the pocket a little bit more, do some different things for him,'' Andersen said.
''Joel, on the flip side of things, can get that ball down the field like we hope he can. He showed two very, very nice balls that were thrown in the last game and his ability to take the top off the coverage and his ability to be involved in the throw game I believe will be a huge positive.''
After his career-best performance against Northwestern, Gordon took over the top rushing spot in the nation, averaging 174.2 yards per game. Over the last three games, he is averaging 231 yards.
''We've got to keep moving forward. It's still a long season,'' said Gordon, who rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns against Illinois last season. ''We've got to hope some things go in our favor with no question of losing. We just have to win out.''
A young receiving corps also has hampered both quarterbacks. Alex Erickson has 25 receptions, but no other wide receiver has more than five.
Andersen did not rule out moving the athletic McEvoy back to wide receiver.
''There is a learning curve again, but it's a possibility,'' he said. ''Let me put it that way.''
There also has been a drop-off in receptions out of the backfield, compared to last season when James White caught 39 passes for 300 yards. Corey Clement has six receptions and Gordon five, with a long of just 8 yards.
''The screen game has not been great for us,'' Andersen said. ''I think the swings to Melvin and the swings to Corey are in the game plan weekly. Our ability to be consistent and get in those dump-off throws and those throws to them have not been as good.''
Wisconsin, which dropped out of the Top 25 with the loss to Northwestern, has won eight of the last nine meetings against Illinois, including the last four. Illinois' lone victory in that stretch was a 31-26 win against the fifth-ranked Badgers in 2007.
The Illini also will be without quarterback Wes Lunt after he broke his left leg during Saturday's 38-27 loss to Purdue.
But safety Michael Caputo said the Badgers are in no position to look past anyone.
''You always have to the Big Ten seriously or you'll come out and you'll lose every time,'' Caputo said. ''If you think that that Big Ten's down or if you think that this team's not very good, you think you're just going to blow by them, they'll come out and they'll sweep your legs out from under you.''