Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 8/20/12
MADISON, Wis. The way Bret Bielema tells it, all the starts in the world at another school werent enough to convince him that Danny OBrien deserved to be a starting quarterback at the University of Wisconsin.Certainly Bielema, Wisconsins seventh-year football coach, had an inkling that OBriens experience would trump his competitors in a three-man quarterback race. But until OBrien proved it on the practice field, his coach couldnt propel him to the top spot in good conscience. Following two weeks of fall practices, Bielema finally saw enough to name OBrien as the Badgers starter on Sunday a move many presumed was a foregone conclusion the minute OBrien announced his transfer from Maryland in March.Bielema insisted otherwise."There wasnt any doubt that it was an open race for all three people," Bielema said after Mondays practice. "I think it might have swayed back and forth between the three of them for me at least four or five times before the actual day."Ultimately, the reason OBrien beat out redshirt freshman Joel Stave and redshirt senior Curt Phillips was simple: Turnovers. Or lack thereof. While Stave and Phillips were in "double digits" in turnovers, according to Bielema, OBrien demonstrated much better ball security. He didnt throw an interception the entire camp until last Friday, when linebacker Ethan Armstrong snatched a pass during a seven-on-seven drill. "He took care of the football the best," Badgers offensive coordinator Matt Canada said. "He didnt turn the ball over, and that really was the deciding factor. The percentage of the three of them was extremely close. The knowledge of the game is extremely close. Theyre all very good leaders. Just felt like for right now this was the best thing to do for our program."The decision to promote OBrien came three days before Bielema initially hoped to name a starter. It means OBrien now has just under two weeks to prepare for 12th-ranked Wisconsins Sept. 1 season opener against Northern Iowa as the teams No. 1 signal caller."I was honored," OBrien said. "To be a part of this team is a privilege in itself, but to be named the starting quarterback here was something that Im proud of just because it had been a lot of hard work. We have a great quarterback room. It was a really tough competition."OBrien graduated from Maryland in three years and is eligible to play immediately at Wisconsin under the NCAA graduate-transfer exception rule. He becomes the Badgers second starter in as many seasons to take advantage of the rule. Last year, Russell Wilson transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin and set the school record for touchdown passes in a single season with 33. That level of instant success isnt expected from OBrien, but he does possess the tools necessary to lead Wisconsin to a third consecutive Big Ten championship. In two seasons at Maryland, OBrien started 17 games. He threw for 4,086 yards with 29 touchdowns and 18 interceptions during his Terrapins career.OBrien, who has two years of eligibility remaining, said his experience played a factor in his ability to earn the Wisconsin starting job."I think a little bit," he said. "Just playing a lot of football gears you into how youre supposed to go into things, how you handle scrimmage situations, moving the chains. Kind of knowing situation deals that get away from the playbook I think can help a little bit."This marks OBriens second foray into a pro-style offense at the college level, which also contributed to his practice success at Wisconsin. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year in 2010 while playing in then-coach Ralph Friedgens pro-style offense. OBrien struggled last season when the Terrapins changed coaches to Randy Edsall and switched to operating out of a spread passing attack. He threw for more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (seven)."In this type of offense, Ive kind of prided myself on taking care of the ball," OBrien said of the pro-style formation. "Not necessarily not taking risks, but taking them when theyre there and when theyre calculated and safe. Just getting the ball on time to the right people. I think if you just go through your reads, that kind of stuff takes care of itself."As for which quarterback will serve as OBriens backup? That decision remains undetermined.Wisconsin released its official depth chart on Monday for its season opener, and Stave and Phillips both were on the No. 2 line.Phillips has appeared in five games with no starts and is 7 for 13 for 65 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. But those appearances came back in 2009. Since then, he has endured three ACL surgeries on his right knee. "Ive been here through a lot of different quarterback competitions and seen the starter do well and the starter not do so well," Phillips said. "My job is to be ready to go, and Im going to make the most of it."I think for me theres going to be a very steep learning curve. I hadnt played in a while, so I didnt expect to be necessarily ready to go within two weeks. But I think whatever reps I can get, Im going to continue to get better. Theres a lot of upside."Stave, meanwhile, made great strides during spring and fall camp but has yet to play in a college game. He joined the team as a walk-on and earned a scholarship last Thursday. "Obviously, theres plays that Id like to take back, things that Id like to have done better," Stave said. "But Im always giving it my all. My mindset hasnt really changed. Im still going to come out and compete everyday and see what happens."For now and for the foreseeable future Phillips and Stave will have to wait their turn. OBrien is the man under center at Wisconsin. Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 7

John Wall warns Lonzo Ball about having target on his back

Eric Bledsoe raises suspicion with tweet

Browns select empty seat to win prize

Hue Jackson critical after DeShone Kizer stayed out late Friday

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Carson Palmer to miss eight weeks with broken arm

Mitchell Trubisky leads Bears to win despite completing just four passes

Red Sox confirm Alex Cora as new manager

Joe Thomas misses his first career snap after injuring arm

Dolphins fans cheer after Jay Cutler leaves with injury

Browns bench DeShone Kizer again, bring in Cody Kessler

MLS Decision Day: East to be a rumble while West up for grabs

Most prominent sports bans on the 5th anniversary of the Lance Armstrong ban

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cubs owner up for Heritage Foundation post

The 'Like Mike, only better' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Dodgers finish Cubs while Astros find pain in the Bronx

The 'Some call me the Rocket, some people call me Maurice' quiz

Kyrie Irving must lead Celtics through a disaster in search for happiness

Jacoby Brissett: The forgotten up-and-comer

NFL Week 7 Predictions

The 'Can I have a quick sword with you?' quiz

College football 2017 Week 8 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: Austin Seferian-Jenkins drops a call

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

MLS Decision Day: East to be a rumble while West up for grabs

Most prominent sports bans on the 5th anniversary of the Lance Armstrong ban

Houston Astros hold off Yankees, forcing Game 7

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cubs owner up for Heritage Foundation post

The 'Like Mike, only better' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Dodgers finish Cubs while Astros find pain in the Bronx

The 'Some call me the Rocket, some people call me Maurice' quiz

Kyrie Irving must lead Celtics through a disaster in search for happiness

Jacoby Brissett: The forgotten up-and-comer

NFL Week 7 Predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker