With one week and four practices to go for the Wisconsin football team before its spring game next Saturday the Badger coaches are getting a look at the players competing for playing time on offense.
Once Danny O’Brien graduates from Maryland and is free to join the Badgers he will be the heavy favorite to assume the starting quarterback position, but in the meantime Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema and company are getting a look at the signal callers they do have.
With redshirt junior Jon Budmayr having been ruled out for spring practice and redshirt senior Curt Phillips limited to non-contact drills, Wisconsin’s only available quarterbacks this spring are redshirt freshman Joel Stave and redshirt sophomore Joe Brennan.
Stave took all the snaps with the Badgers No. 1 offense Saturday during a 70-play full-pads scrimmage, something Bielema credits to the composure he showed in practice last week.
“I thought Stave has really done a nice job this week controlling the huddle and making some good decisions down the field,” Bielema said. “Stave has impressed me from day one, just his composure, his presence. He’s got that little bit of ‘it’ to him and does a nice job of just taking the big picture.”
But according to Bielema, Stave hasn’t necessarily moved ahead of Brennan in what will likely become the race to be O’Brien’s back-up.
“Want to stress to Joey to keep moving forward,” Bielema said. “He has to be consistency in his play, in his throws, his reads, his reactions. He’s got a nice arm, he’s just got to be more consistent.”
One of the biggest holes the Badgers will have to fill on offense this season is at wide receiver where they will rely on a group of young and inexperienced wide outs to replace the departed Nick Toon and his 926 yards and 10 touchdowns from last season
Redshirt junior Jeff Duckworth is one of the more experienced receivers on the team fighting for playing time, and Bielema said he’s hoping Duckworth can take his game to the next level.
“Duck obviously made some good plays for us a year ago and kind of came into his own,” Bielema said. “He’s a guy that I kind of urged during practice to take it a step forward.”
Outside of Duckworth, Bielema said that he needs to see improved consistency from young receivers like redshirt sophomores Chase Hammond and Marquis Mason.
“Chase Hammond looks really, really good at times, Marquis makes a nice play and then wants to take a play off,” Bielema said. “Those guys have to understand it’s part of what we do here is make the next play. Make one good play, but make the next one.”
“Need to see our wide receivers moving forward,” he added. “Certain guys are beginning to make plays, I just want them to make them with more consistency.”