By TOM LEA
MADISON – Joel Stave was doing a decent enough job holding his emotions in check during the moments immediately after he assumed he suffered a broken collarbone against Michigan State.
But as he strolled toward the sideline in plain sight of the stunned Camp Randall crowd, he locked eyes with his teary-eyed mother. That’s when his rash of emotions overtook him.
“She was kind of crying,” Stave, speaking to the media for the first time since suffering the injury that will likely cost him the remainder of the season, said. “That never helps.”
It never helps because it essentially cements a negative connotation in ones mind. A crying mother is either incredibly proud or incredibly worried. Considering the circumstances, Stave’s mom was the latter.
She, like her son, knew his injury wasn’t minor.
“Right when I got tackled I could kind of hear it,” Stave said. “I was able to touch it and feel a bit of a lump. I assumed it was a break. After the doctors came out there that’s what they said. (William Gholston) is a really, really big and strong guy. The way I landed on it, it was going to happen.”
Stave, UW’s starting quarterback in six separate games, had some tears in his eyes as well, mostly because he was so upset that his rise up the depth chart was now revoked.
“Just really disappointed that I didn’t get to finish the game,” he said. “I kind of figured I wouldn’t get to finish out any of the other games this year. I was really disappointed by that.”
The injury will keep Stave sidelined for eight weeks. He will not require surgery, but he will undergo weekly X-Rays to make certain the fractured clavicle is healing itself in the proper manner.
Stave didn’t completely rule out a potential return for UW’s bowl game later this season, but he did say he wasn’t willing to rush back just for the sake of playing in that game.
“I don’t want to do anything stupid and press it and try to get back before I’m ready and set myself back again,” Stave said. “I trust what the doctors tell me and I know my body and when I’m feeling good. If I get a chance to I’d really like (playing in the bowl game).
“If not, that’s fine.”
If Stave misses UW’s final three regular season games, a potential Big Ten championship game and whatever bowl game the Badgers play in, he said he would set his sights on preparing for spring camp with hopes of reclaiming the starting job.
He said he’d expect another competition to ensue, likely between himself, both the quarterbacks currently competing for the starting job (Curt Phillips and Danny O’Brien) and freshman Bart Houston.
“Just trying to continue, I wouldn’t necessarily say where I left off because there is a lot of room for improvement in the offseason before spring practice starts, but continue getting better and continue to build relationships with guys on the team.”
That’s something the freshman quarterback is working on establishing now.
Having reached the top of the depth chart and having played in several games, Stave wants to maintain the level of preparation he had established when he knew he’d be the starter each week.
He wants to maintain the film routine he locked into and continue serving as a voice on the offensive side of the ball, even though his arm will be in a sling for quite some time.
“Anything I can to help the other guys,” Stave said. “Anything I can to basically help anyone on the offense. If wide receivers have questions about things or the running backs (have questions) about things, it’s just doing anything I can to help.
“I’m still out there at practice watching every play and I’m in all the meetings and everything.
When the Badgers head to Indiana later this week for a critical Big Ten Leaders division matchup, Stave will remain in Madison. It will be the first time he stayed back during a road trip during his two years on campus.
He said he plans on watching the game on campus somewhere and that he will likely watch with fellow teammates that didn’t make the travel roster, all of which will be a complete change from the direction he was headed individually two short weeks ago.
“It’s going to be really different,” he said. “It’s going to be different watching a game live on TV as opposed to the sidelines or in it. I like to think I’ll stay pretty calm, but we’ll see.”
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