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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, March 24, 2023
Matthew Kleist

Column: Phillips should remain starting quarterback for rest of season

I, like all Badger fans must be, am extremely happy with the outcome of Saturday’s game against Indiana. And who would not be?

Wisconsin rolled to its easiest victory of the season putting up 62 points and holding one of the Big Ten’s most explosive offenses to only 14. Redshirt senior quarterback Curt Phillips got his first career start and helped the Badgers secure their spot in the Big Ten title game, all while not showing any lack of confidence on the field.

It was a good day to be a Badger.

Just by looking at this game, it is safe to say Phillips should remain the starter for the rest of the season. However, there are some things that remain unanswered about the fifth-year signal caller.

The first thing that comes to mind is Phillips’ ability to throw the ball. The Badgers finished with a school-record 564 rushing yards, led by 100-yard-plus days from senior running back Montee Ball and junior James White.

Phillips only attempted seven passes in the entire game, completing four of them for 41 yards and one touchdown. Not exactly your balanced attack.

But what I will say about Phillips and the passing game is that he looked comfortable throwing. Aside from one attempt that came as he was about to get sacked (a veteran play to avoid a loss of yards), Phillips delivered the ball fairly accurately when he did throw.

And what did you expect from someone making his first career start? You can’t expect a Wisconsin quarterback to take over the starting role with three games left in the season and throw 20 times.

Another part of Phillip’s game that impressed me was his ability to run. After three ACL injuries, the guy can still move on his feet. He finished the day with 68 rushing yards on seven carries, including a 52-yard scramble that, pre-injuries, surely would have been a score.

Three ACL injuries will undoubtedly slow you down, but Phillips showed us why he was regarded as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks coming out of high school.

Despite his awareness on the field and ability to run, I feel his legs alone will not be enough to get the job done next week at home against Ohio State. Indiana has the worst rushing defense in the Big Ten, and the Badgers knew that and exploited that fact. But Ohio State is a different story.

The Buckeyes have held opponents to only 108 rushing yards per game this year—not a good sign for a team that now more than ever relies on the power of its run game.

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Another question I have is will Phillips be able to allow the Wisconsin offense to keep up with a Buckeye offense that averages over 445 yards per game? Phillips and the Badger offense were able to quickly put up points against the Hoosiers Saturday. But again, there is a difference between playing Ohio State and playing Indiana.

For Phillips and Badgers, it may be more of a question of whether they can control the time of possession, something they were able to do at Indiana and can do against Ohio State.

From this point on, the best chance for Wisconsin to win is for Phillips to remain under center. Some questions still remain about the redshirt senior’s game but with the Badgers already clinching their spot in the Big Ten Championship, Phillips and the offense have two games before the trip to Indianapolis to find those answers.

The only remaining question is will it be enough to make it back to Pasadena?

Do you think UW should keep Phillips under center? Let Matt know at

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