Wisconsin Football: 3 Things Danny O'Brien Can Do to Earn Back His Starting Spot
The Badgers' bad screenplay of a season will take another plot twist this week.
According to ESPN, Curt Phillips will be the starting quarterback come Saturday when Wisconsin travels to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers.
Unlike previous contests, this game will most likely be somewhat competitive, especially with a conference title-game berth on the line. But the prized transfer, Danny O'Brien, will be throwing sideline signals instead of footballs during the game.
So, what will it take for the former Maryland Terrapin star to regain his freshman-year form and snag the starting spot again?
Read on to find out.
At the beginning of the season, Wisconsin fans held their breath every time O'Brien took a snap under center. Any hope seemed futile as the protection collapsed and disaster ensured.
As the offensive line sorted out its issue, O'Brien suffered. Blindside sacks were commonplace, and unfortunately, so were loose balls. Most people can forgive the lost yards, but they cannot forget the fumbles. That will have to be O'Brien's first order of business in order to be at the top of the depth chart once again.
As long as the junior signal caller continues his ruinous trend of putting the football on the field, he won't be allowed near the field itself.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions....
One of the biggest catalysts to O'Brien's case of butterfingers was his decision-making. When the offensive line did give the embattled quarterback a chance, he too often made the wrong decision.
While he only has one interception to his name, he rarely threw the ball away when the defense was closing in on him. Defensive players feasted on that hesitation which led O'Brien down a road of decaying efficiency.
Decisiveness was often cited as the main reason Joel Stave leapfrogged the veteran and stole his roster spot. Where O'Brien held the ball, Stave seemed to take a chance. That may have caused more picks for the redshirt freshman, but it also seemed to loosen up the offensive game plan as a whole.
O'Brien has only been in the Wisconsin system a few months, and still has a year of eligibility remaining. As his receivers mature and the line gels, O'Brien should gain confidence and ultimately play with more focus.
Manage the Game
With just about a minute left against Nebraska, O'Brien seemed to have misread the play call, allowing the Blackshirts to make a stop to end the game.
As a quarterback, that just cannot happen. It is the most elementary skill a signal caller must command.
While O'Brien has long been revered as a playbook prodigy, he has not been able to translate that intelligence into yards. Outside of Russell Wilson, the long line of Wisconsin quarterbacks are asked to be penalty-averse, steady game managers.
O'Brien has so far failed to prove he can keep a drive alive and the Badgers on top.