Following the Wisconsin Badgers’ Thursday practice, head coach Bret Bielema officially announced that the team will start freshman Joel Stave at quarterback in the upcoming game with UTEP.
It’s not the only thing Bielema said as he also mentioned playing all three of the Badgers’ quarterbacks in different situations.
For a team searching for it’s identity in the offense, the last thing they need to be doing is going back-and-forth between different signal callers.
Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien has to be wondering if he made the right decision by coming to Wisconsin. At first glance, the Badgers looked like a dream job for any quarterback with the huge offensive line and uber-talented backfield consisting of a Heisman finalist. But the offensive line has failed to formulate any kind of push and the personnel change from the off-season hasn’t been as smooth as everyone thought it was.
O’Brien busted on the scene with an efficient outing against Northern Iowa which had fans and the media thinking it was quite possible to brace the loss of the great Russell Wilson. In the win, he completed 19 of his 23 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he recorded zero turnovers and appeared to be a prototypical game manager. A trip to Oregon State would change all of that.
In DOB’s next six quarters of play, he completed only 52% (25-for-48) of his passes, threw an interception and lost a critical fumble. I say six quarters because O’Brien was benched at halftime of Wisconsin’s game with Utah State while the team was trailing 14-3.
Enter former walk-on and freshman Joel Stave who had his first real game experience in the second half of the 16-14 win over Utah State. Stave completed two passes for 15 yards in a game the Badgers narrowly escaped with the win (missed Aggies’ field goal at end of game).
Bielema has justified his decision to go with Stave by giving the freshman high praise in regards to “decision-making” and “not turning the ball over.” If I’m not mistaken, those were the exact reasons O’Brien was named the starting quarterback in the first place.
Making the situation even more confusing is that fact that Bielema said this:
“Danny O’Brien has come in and done a great job during two-minute offense. I’ve seen him do that. In my mind if those types of situations arise, right now there is nobody better in that situation than Danny O’Brien. Curt (Phillips), and what he brings to the table in certain situations, gets you excited about him as a player.”
Is he really mentioning a scenario other than injuries where he would play Curt Phillips? Could you imagine the Badgers playing most of the game with Stave, only to take him out in the final two minutes to play O’Brien because he runs the two-minute offense better?
For an offense who hasn’t shown any form of consistency this season, isn’t the goal to find some before the conference season begins and more importantly before the Badgers head to Nebraska for one of the biggest games of the year?
Taking Bielema’s latest actions and comments in to consideration, I’m not so sure this team will be even close to ready for Big Ten play.
What do you think, could playing more than one quarterback work at Wisconsin? Is Joel Stave the answer to resurrect the Badgers’ offense? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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