Tuesday, October 2, 2012


As you say, and I agree, neither O'Brien nor Stave is "good." Not, at least, in the sense that either of them is going to single-handedly win games. But Stave is better, overall, and he should continue to start.

First, some words in support of O'Brien. Clearly O'Brien's ability to perform was partly hindered by factors outside his control. Most notably: (1) extremely poor offensive line play; and (2) the injury to Abberderis. The line has been shored up somewhat, it seems. And Abberderis is back. As you predicted half-way through last season, the receiving corps other than Abberderis this year is abysmal. In Stave's first action during the second half of the Utah State game, two of the no-name receivers (one of whom is actually named "Doe") dropped passes on third down that killed drives. Although it's true the no-names did look better against Nebraska.

Actually, I don't think it's a coincidence that the no-name receivers are starting to look better with Stave throwing the ball. I think the receivers want to perform better for him. I sense that they feel he is the better quarterback.

This is pretty squishy, I know, but overall I like the way Stave carries himself. Even with far less experience he seems to have significantly more poise and pocket presence than O'Brien. He stands in and takes a hit. He delivers the ball to a spot where the receiver can make a play. You call these balls underthrown—but underthrown is better than overthrown in most cases because it at least gives the receiver a chance to make a play. The drop by Ball is a perfect example—yes he had to slow down a little, but the ball hit him the hands. The only way you screw that play up as a QB is by getting excited and throwing it too far. That Stave isn't doing that shows his poise.

Certainly there's nothing in his actual play that makes me think he's less talented that O'Brien. He's got a better arm. He is reasonably accurate. He's taller. He's faster. He has better hair.

Ultimately I agree that the reason Stave is starting is because O'Brien did not protect the football. O'Brien's fumble at the end of the first half of the Utah State game was egregious and inexcusable. It wasn't like he was blindsided—he was already in another players grasp, and he saw the second hit coming, yet still coughed up the ball. Against Utah State! That kind of nonsense was literally the only way Wisconsin could lose that game, and they almost did because of O'Brien's nonsense. He lost the right the start.

Finally, at least one sportswriter who watched the Badgers camp was of the opinion that Stave beat out O'Brien, and that Bielema "gifted" the starting job to him. That Bielema had a quick hook seems to bear this out. He went with O'Brien in a close battle because O'Brien had experience. I like to think that the decision was eating away at him because he knew it was wrong.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with most of that. Especially that your love of Stave is squishy.
    We are both hopefully wrong that both these guys aren't very good.
    With the way O'Brien screwed up the 4th down play and his past turnovers, we should get at least a couple weeks of Stave to see if he can prove himself.
    My guess is he won't, and UW will be stuck deciding between Stave, O'Brien, or maybe giving Phillips a try. Ugh.
    Although, the last time the Badgers had such terrible quarterback situation with Sherer and Evridge, the 3rd guy on the bench who didn't get a shot until the following year was Scott Tolzien. Maybe Phillips should get a shot.