Wisconsin Football: Way Too Early Odds on Starting Quarterback
When it comes to the Wisconsin quarterback situation lately, it is either feast or famine.
The Badgers have no entrenched starter, and now find themselves in a position they have rarely seen before outside of the running back corps: there may be too many quarterbacks. Last year, the team was in a precarious situation with three unknown variables vying for a chance to call the plays.
This season, a mixed bag of signal callers will try to make enough of an impact to take the first snap for the defending Big Ten Champions. What are the odds a redshirt freshman will get the nod? A former JUCO All-American? A 2012 surprise?
Here are the very early, not-at-all-scientific, could-change-tomorrow odds on who will be the starting quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers' first game in 2013.
Jon Budmayr: 100-1
Jon Budmayr is everything you would want in a quarterback.
He says the right things. He espouses confidence in the face of adversity, and supports his teammates.
If only the former Illinois state star could get on the field. When Wisconsin nabbed Budmayr, it was a bit of a coup considering he turned down the likes of Nebraska and Notre Dame. Unfortunately, injuries have robbed him of that potential. In 2010, he played in three games with 134 yards. Eighty of those yards came off a heave to Jared Abbrederis during a historic blowout against Indiana.
A nagging nerve issue in his elbow has sidelined Budmayr for the time being, and an improbable comeback in 2013 makes him the ultimate long shot in a crowded field.
Bart Houston: 20-1
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This is the season the recruitniks have been waiting for. Will Bart Houston be Wisconsin's next great player?
He could, but the odds are not in his favor. Houston has all the makings of a great college quarterback, including the size at 6'4" and all the high school accolades one could want. But this is the next level, where nearly every guy on the field, and on the scout team, was a highly touted athlete. Five stars have been known to come crashing to earth just as quickly as the walk-on.
Houston could have the goods, but with so much experience ahead of him, he could also have a hard time making his case as practice snaps become scarce.
Danny O'Brien: 15-1
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Danny O'Brien was going to be Wisconsin's transfer superstar. He was going to be the savior as Russell Wilson moved on the NFL. When he picked Wisconsin over Penn State, Bret Bielema probably considered asking the governor to make it a state holiday.
But by the third game, the dream was over.
O'Brien's first season with Wisconsin was a disappointment to say the least. His 523 passing yards and -80 rushing yards were not quite what Badger fans were hoping for. When he was called on as a back-up, his play was fraught with indecision and ill-timed turnovers. For all of the bad, he did show flashes of good, albeit brief flashes. 2013 could be his season with an even cleaner slate after the old staff and their preconceptions are now history.
O'Brien will be a factor, make no mistake about it. How big a factor is yet to be seen.
Curt Phillips: 12-1
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Yes, the starting quarterback of the Rose Bowl has the third-best chance to be the starting quarterback when Wisconsin plays UMass on August 31st. His guts and story cannot be ignored as the six-year senior gave a struggling squad some hope in 2012.
Phillips threw five touchdowns and two interceptions in the seven games he saw action. He scrambled for 99 more yards, and by all means was serviceable in a very tough situation. Phillips is known for his competitive spirit as evidenced by a return from three separate ACL tears.
And if the field were thinner, he may find himself as the betting favorite in this race. While his toughness will not be underestimated, the tale of the tape shows Phillips to be a shaky thrower, especially in the face of a rush. Wisconsin needs a steadier hand as they rebuild.
Tanner McEvoy: 8-1
When Tanner McEvoy came out of high school, he had his pick of top flight schools and ultimately signed with South Carolina.
After a year as a Gamecock and a run-in with the law, McEvoy left Columbia and found himself at Arizona Western College where he developed into the top dual-threat junior college quarterback in the country. He re-opened his recruitment and ultimately picked Madison over Morgantown and Gainesville, and that is where the coaching staff hopes this journeyman saga will come to an end.
McEvoy, at 6'6'', provides a big frame and a huge arm. While his experience may pale to that of Phillips or O'Brien, McEvoy brings an ability to run well and throw well. This kind of skill set will get the New Jersey native another look from a coaching staff who are coming from a spread-option system.
Joel Stave: 2-1
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Joel Stave went from dark horse to favorite in 2012. When Bret Bielema made the call to bench O'Brien during a tight game against Utah State, Camp Randall looked on the verge of rioting. But Stave took the reins and led a badly needed comeback, proving everyone wrong in the process.
Stave's play was raw, and some of his decisions a little questionable. That did not seem to matter as the 6'5" former walk-on looked at home in a collapsing pocket. Stave exuded calm as he stared down the conference's best defenses in the most raucous venues. He was unflappable, and made some tough throws to boot.
He ended the year 1,104 yards and a 148.35 passer rating, setting up the perfect springboard for a monster 2013 season.