Wisconsin Football: 5 Reasons Why Curt Phillips Should Be the Starter
Finally, the moment Wisconsin football fans have been waiting for.
Head coach Bret Bielema released the depth chart for the Badgers' game against Indiana on Saturday, with all eyes focused on who Bielema would name as the starting quarterback.
Bielema may know, but we still don't.
For those who haven't caught on yet, Phillips will be named the starter at Indiana, and here are five reasons backing up why this should be the case.
For the Potential Feel-Good Story
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By now, the college career of Curt Phillips has been pretty well documented. The redshirt senior has had three surgeries on his ACL and missed the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons rehabbing his injuries.
Coming into Wisconsin, Phillips was a 4-star recruit out of Tennessee and one of the more coveted high school quarterbacks in the country. It was a surprise Phillips chose Madison as his destination considering the history the Badgers have bringing in top-tier quarterbacks.
From there, it has been all downhill for Phillips, and he is still waiting for his first opportunity at the starting job. He only has 12 passing attempts in his college career after limited playing time his freshman year, and he could very well double that total should he start against Indiana.
What a story it would be if Phillips could overcome such devastating injuries and help fulfill his promise by leading the Badgers to a Big Ten Championship.
Because Bret Bielema Doesn't Have a Choice
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When Joel Stave went down with a fractured left clavicle against Michigan State, Bielema made the unpopular choice of inserting Danny O'Brien at quarterback for the remainder of the game.
O'Brien went 5-of-11 passing and only threw for 44 yards in the second half in addition to overtime. He didn't necessarily cost the Badgers the game, but he didn't do anything to help the cause.
Even though Bielema pulled O'Brien earlier in the year against Utah State and replaced him with Stave, O'Brien received a second chance—Phillips didn't even get his first.
Phillips is the overwhelming favorite of the Badgers faithful to win the job against Indiana, and although Bielema said both quarterbacks looked good in practice last week, the head coach doesn't have much of a choice.
It's either a player who has failed multiple times to get the job done, or someone who hasn't given up despite the tumultuous circumstances he faced to fight back to this point. The choice seems obvious.
His Dual-Threat Ability
What made Phillips such an enticing recruit out of high school was his dual-threat ability, and there couldn't be a better time for Wisconsin to start Phillips at quarterback.
The inconsistencies of the offensive line this season have led to several sacks—18 in all through the team's first nine games. While that number doesn't seem all that high, Wisconsin quarterbacks haven't had much time to get rid of the football.
What makes Phillips the best option moving forward is his ability to take off and run when the pocket collapses.
Rather than watch O'Brien's feet get stuck in quicksand, Phillips can make something out of nothing, and he has proven it in the past. In his limited playing time during his freshman season, Phillips ran 14 times for 138 yards, good for a 9.9 average.
Indiana sports the 15th worst rushing defense in the country. The Badgers can just pound the rock all day—Phillips included—and this should in turn set up favorable passing opportunities for Phillips.
Danny O'Brien Had His Chance(s)
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It can be argued that Danny O'Brien is responsible for all three of the Badgers losses, but that's a little on the harsh side, even though it has been O'Brien on the field at the end of each of Wisconsin's three defeats.
In O'Brien's defense, he has not received the same protection or stellar rushing attack Joel Stave enjoyed this season, so it's unfair in a way to totally pin the Badgers' earlier struggles on the Maryland transfer.
On the flip side, there have been times where O'Brien displays complete incompetence.
Against Oregon State, Michigan State and Utah State, O'Brien led his team to a grand total of 16 points, and that's just not going to get it done. Maybe it has something to do with teams that have "State" in their name.
O'Brien won the starting job at the beginning of the season, which was chance No. 1. Chance No. 2 came against Michigan State, and he didn't exactly pass that test with flying colors.
Does O'Brien receive his third chance before Curt Phillips receives his first? It wouldn't seem to make much sense.
The Future at Quarterback in Madison
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Do the Badgers really want to put Danny O'Brien in at quarterback knowing he won't be the starter next season?
This is likely Curt Phillips' last hurrah at Wisconsin, as he is already a fifth-year senior. Phillips is holding out hope that he will be granted a sixth year of eligibility due to his injury history, but even so, he is probably looking at his last opportunity at significant playing time for the Badgers.
The upcoming offseason is set up to be a two-man battle for starting quarterback between highly touted redshirt freshman Bart Houston, who will be coming off shoulder surgery, and Joel Stave, who will be returning from his broken collarbone.
Not only will O'Brien be out of the fold next year, but he has already played himself out of the starting quarterback position—twice. Despite only playing a few snaps all season, O'Brien's struggles automatically make Phillips the best option.
Why not hand Phillips the reins and give him a chance to ride off into the sunset?