Wisconsin Badgers: Freshman QB Joel Stave to Start Against UTEP
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After three games of offensive ineptitude, it appears head coach Bret Bielema and the Badgers coaching staff have decided to end the Danny O'Brien era at Wisconsin, for now, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report.
Joel Stave, the 6'5" redshirt freshman backup-turned-starter with a live arm, entered the game against Utah State after O'Brien and the Badgers continued to be contained offensively.
College football media members have pointed to the poor performance of the offensive line, the keying in on running back Montee Ball in the backfield by opposing defenses and poor execution as reasons why the Badgers have stumbled out of the gate at 2-1.
In attempts to correct a seemingly sinking ship, Bielema has fired his offensive line coach Mike Markuson, took the ball out of transfer quarterback O'Brien's hands, and is still looking for ways to rekindle the explosive firepower the Badgers sported last season.
That's what any good coach would—or perhaps should—do; however, Bielema is running out of scapegoats.
Perhaps it's time for Wisconsin's locker room to remember this isn't the Russell Wilson-Montee Ball offense that led them to the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row.
Considering Penn State and Ohio State's postseason bans, it's still possible for the Badgers to go to the Rose Bowl for a third consecutive time. However, the road ahead isn't easy. The Badgers take to the road to face quarterback Taylor Martinez and Nebraska on September 29th, and a few weeks later take on a tough Michigan State team at Camp Randall on October 27th. Finishing out the season with Ohio State in Madison, and Penn State in Happy Valley, the Badgers have plenty of work to do.
Is QB Joel Stave the answer to Wisconsin's early season troubles?
It remains to be seen if Joel Stave is the spark the Badgers need to right the ship and push for the Rose Bowl, but the offense did seem to turn around despite Stave's 2-6, 15 yard performance in the second half.
Bielema pointed to O'Brien's ball security and interception issues last weekend as part of the decision to make the change:
"I think Danny, I told him on Sunday that the No. 1 reason he got the job to begin with was because of the way he took care of the football."
Speaking to Stave's strengths under center, Bielema seemed optimistic yet cautious:
"I think any of the quarterbacks would admit that Joel has the best arm out of all of them... He's got great composure, Joel's pretty educated."
"Now, obviously he's only got one half under his belt as a quarterback that's out there on the field. So that's the part that's the unknown."
Stave will get the first team snaps heading into this weekend's contest against UTEP, and with the return of injured wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, he'll have the full offense at his disposal.
"When all is said and done, more is said than done."
A fitting quote for the Badgers to consider for the next game, and the rest of their season. It's one thing to talk about getting back on track; it's another thing to actually do it.
With Stave under center for four quarters and a healthy Abbrederis, look for the Badgers to rebound at Camp Randall on Saturday.
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