The Badgers have a big decision to make (again) at quarterback. It's no secret that OC Paul Chryst and Bielema have said if the competition is close this fall, they will go with the guy with more upside -- the younger guy who will have more time to develop. That's a not-so-subtle nod to Curt Phillips.
Indeed, every report out of practice this week indicates Phillips is the guy (Adam Hoge says Phillips took over 60% of the snaps yesterday). Jeff Potrykus (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) hedged and said maybe the staff knows what Sherer brings to the table, and they are just trying to evaluate where the other guys are. Maybe. Probably not (the coaches provided all the clues needed to connect the dots prior to the Donovan and Evridge decisions, I have to assume the same is true this year).
According to those practice reports, while Dustin Sherer still makes bad decisions, Phillips is still "erratic" and also throws picks (to quote Potrykus this week: "Phillips still isn't a polished passer. Nevertheless, more often than not the ball arrives on time and in a place that allows the receiver to make a play." [In a different article] "However, [Phillips'] throwing was erratic."). Based on these reviews, it sounds as though the coaches are implementing the above theory: if it's close, go with the guy still developing. So here we go.
Generally I don't disagree with the theory: Phillips will continue getting better, so let's go with him rather than someone who's likely already peaked (or near it). The problem comes when we're in a tight game—maybe down a score—and Phillips has been playing badly: throwing incompletions and picks, trying to do too much with his feet while our best receivers in five or more years languish unused. Do you put someone else in?
With all the talk about Scott Tolzein being a safe No. 2, wouldn't you rather have the guy who has the bigger arm and the potential for bigger plays lead you back (not to mention seven career starts): you know, like the strikes to David Gilreath in last year's Illinois game and Isaac Anderson in the Minnesota game? Do the Badgers then effectively end up with a two-quarterback system? That dog don't hunt.
Last season when Bielema addressed the quarterback derby he talked about the obligation to go with the guy who gives the best chance of winning today, not next year. If Chryst and Bielema have in the back of their heads that maybe Sherer is really that guy, and not Phillips, will they be too quick to give Phillips the hook? We can't have that.
Now, I've been a Sherer proponent, but the chorus is pretty loud that he hasn't made the strides the Badgers need him to. Assuming that's the case (and the coaches and folks attending practice know better than me), then it's time for someone else.
The coaches are at the practices and want to win even more than I do. I trust they will make the right decision on the quarterback. But that doesn't mean I'm not nervous about it. I think it's next Wednesday that the starter is announced.
Whomever we go with, it's got to be concrete. Period. Can you give a guy the hook if he's awful (see Evridge vs. Penn State)? Yes, but if they have any doubts about their decision it will end badly.
Pick someone and stick with him.