In senior tailback Corey Clement’s absence, the Badgers offense struggled against a stingy Georgia State defense, needing someone to provide the Badgers with some firepower in order to avoid disaster.
That firepower came from the left hand of redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook.
“I thought we just needed a little bit of a spark, and I liked how both of them had been working and preparing,” Wisconsin’s head coach Paul Chryst said. “I thought it might give us a little something.”
Chryst proved to be right as the 19-year-old Hornibrook didn’t disappoint. He completed his first two passes and lead the first successful touchdown drive of the afternoon. Hornibrook’s ability to make reads and complete tough touch passes was on full display.
Outside of the single interception, which was actually a dropped ball by junior receiver George Rushing, Hornibrook had a near perfect outing, completing 8 of 12 passes and throwing for 122 yards and a touchdown. Hornibrook’s stat line accrued a quarterback rating of 90.6, immensely better than senior quarterback Bart Houston, who ended the day 10 of 18 for 91 yards and a 62.2 QBR.
“We were just off a little bit on some things. We’ve got to look back at it,” said Chryst about his senior quarterback’s performance.
Perhaps the most telling stat, other than the touchdowns column, was the average yards per attempt. The redshirt freshman averaged 10.2 to the seniors 5.1, exactly double. That type of variance makes all the difference when it comes to spreading out a defense, allowing the offense to find more success both running and passing the football.
Hornibrook’s effect on the game was far-reaching, both schematically and emotionally. His accurate passing broke off big chunks of yardage and put the defense on its heels, which opened up running lanes for redshirt senior Dare Ogunbowale and redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw.
Emotionally, he provided a calm presence, while at the same time delivering a spark the Badgers desperately needed.
“I’m proud of what Alex did and how he came in,” Chryst said.