It's been a fun trip through the roster heading into spring, but as the saying goes - we've saved the best for last. That's because we've saved the quarterbacks for last.
No doubt we don't have to tell you about the disaster that was the quarterback position last year, right? I don't think any of us will forget what happened with Danny O'Brien, Joel Stave, and Curt Phillips all starting multiple games last year.
All of that is in the past though and it's time to turn a new page as Andy Ludwig brings his balanced philosophy together with what Wisconsin has traditional done and what head coach Gary Andersen believes as well. That means more attention will be on the quarterback as they try to incorporate a bit of zone-read in with the down field philosophy they are looking for.
So, how do we sort out a crowded quarterback field? Let's dive right in to the deep end, shall we?
Lost, but not forgotten: None
Starter(s) Still Here: Danny O'Brien (Sr.), Curt Phillips (Sr.), Joel Stave (So.)
Battle to be Had: Getting a leg up
Why didn't we say "Starting QB?" Well, that's because Andersen made it abundantly clear that no starter will be named coming out of spring and that's because highly sought after Juco QB Tanner McEvoy makes his way to Madison this fall and will have every opportunity to win the job himself.
However, that doesn't mean someone can't step up and prove to be a capable player and a main challenger to McEvoy for the fall, right?
To that end the Badgers are lucky to have three quarterbacks with some good starting experience on their roster. In fact they have perhaps the deepest pool of experience to draw from of anyone in the country. The bad news is that two of those three really don't mesh all that well with what Andersen is looking for in his QB. Those two are Danny O'Brien and Joel Stave (to a lesser extent).
Curt Phillips proved he can be a mobile enough quarterback that teams do have to worry about him running, however we all know he had issues completing a deep ball all of last year. If he can work to improve that this spring don't be surprised to see this story have a happy ending once again. If he still has issues completing a ball beyond 15 yards then it'll be next man up.
That means redshirt freshman Bart Houston and we'll have more on him later. Jon Budmayr was the mystery man in the mix, but he won't be a player for this team as he becomes a student assistant coach for the Badgers this spring as he looks towards a coaching career in his future.
So, who do we see coming out ahead of the pack? To me the two front runners have to Stave and Houston. Stave because he possesses an ability to command a huddle, get the team behind him and while he may not be the speediest guy out there he does possess an ability to move when needed. Oh and he possesses a great deep ball too.
and here is our reason for Houston:
Player to Watch: Bart Houston
Houston is easily the most highly touted QB coming out of high school to ever sign with Wisconsin. He sat out last season, but led the scout team later into the year and he was talked of very, VERY highly by the previous coaching staff. However, with the new change it could be Houston that benefits the most as he's just a year removed from running a Veer offense in high school. Sure, he didn't run a ton, but he understands the philosophy behind a zone-read scheme a bit more than anyone else on the roster and the guy can flat out chuck the rock all over the field. He's got the most potential of anyone to be successful in this system, but he needs to show that potential produces results. If so, expect him to be the front runner as a challenger to McEvoy this fall.