Wisconsin Football: 3 Reasons Danny O'Brien Is Not Guaranteed the Starting Job
Guarantees have no place in college football. Even the all-knowing analysts and experts live in a world of presumption and assumption rather than guarantees.
Every year, the underclassmen get faster, the coaches get trickier and the play books become more sophisticated. That means competition for any position never ends in a top-tier football program like the University of Wisconsin.
That idea rings especially true for the quarterback spot, and while transfer Danny O'Brien's path to become the starting signal caller has less roadblocks than many other backups', it is not a lock by any means.
Steep Learning Curve
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Yes, this guy again.
One of the biggest reasons Russell Wilson has a chance to become an NFL starting quarterback has nothing to do with his 40 speed. It's all about his intelligence. In fact, John Gruden was so blown away by Wilson's intellectual prowess, he became his unofficial pre-draft cheerleader.
O'Brien by all means has the brains and the drive: he graduated college in three years when many of his peers will opt to take five years for a diploma.
Regardless of his SATs and ACTs, a new play book with new terminology is incredibly difficult to master. New coaches and unfamiliar personnel make executing those new plays even harder, especially as an untested coaching regime takes over in Madison.
Meanwhile, O'Brien's teammates got a head start with spring training and will come into camp much more comfortable with the system than the ex-Terp.
Backups Refusing to Back Down
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As much as the media talks like there aren't any other competitors for the job, there are.
The spring game was a little bit of an eye opener for some fans as Joe Brennan and Joel Stave took the snaps in Madison. While Brennan lived up to his growing reputation for being clumsy and jittery in the huddle, walk-on Stave put up a solid performance. He was the victim of some dropped balls but still managed to complete 14 of 25 passes with a touchdown to boot.
Wisconsin loves its walk-ons, and that legacy may embolden Stave to really make fall camp a real competition. O'Brien, meanwhile, will have to shake the stigma of being a hired gun and win over the coaches, players and fans in short order.
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The one characteristic a quarterback must have over all others is confidence.
Danny O'Brien is on a campaign to regain his after a very shaky 2011 season.
A brand new offensive scheme at Maryland neutralized O'Brien's natural talents and led the team to a 2-10 record. In one year, the Terrapins went from contender to doormat, and O'Brien went from star to bench-warmer, with only seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 9 games played in 2011.
That fall from grace can play tricks on a player's psyche, and the newest Badger will need to reclaim his sense of command if he hopes to be at the top of the depth chart.