On Thursday, what was a close race for the Badgers starting quarterback position came to an end. Head coach Paul Chryst went with the experienced arm in fifth-year senior Bart Houston.
With the starting job figured out for the LSU game at Lambeau Field, it got us to wondering what would a successful 2016 season look like for the former highly touted quarterback out of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif.
We know, obvious stuff here, but if there is one thing that was learned about Houston in his limited game action and the last two camp experiences it is that Houston can be turnover prone. If you want a game manager, said quarterback simply canâ€™t turn the ball over.
Houston turned a few heads last season in his most extensive action of his career, filling in for the injured Joel Stave and throwing for 232 yards and two touchdowns. However, he also threw two picks and he showed a propencity to throw interceptions throughout both spring and fall camp this year.
The coaching staff believes Houston gives them the best chance to win games. In order to prove them right he canâ€™t do what his predecessor did and turn positive situations in to negative ones at inoportune times.
Master the Pre-Snap Read
Many are asking what separated Houston and Hornibrook, and one answer that many who attended fall camp point to is Houstonâ€™s mastery of the pre-snap read. With an expected jump in the run game, any quarterback behind center for the Badgers has to get his team in the proper plays at the proper times to take advantage of expected eight-man fronts.
If Houston can set his team up for the right plays against specific defensive looks it could be worth some points each and every week. Getting those pre-snap reads right are about the most important thing a quarterback can do, and it appears that Houston has been very adept at doing that, a good sign for a player who wasnâ€™t noted for sticking his nose in the playbook or spending a lot of time watching film early in his career.
Complete 60 Percent of Passes or More
Another big component to long-term success is being able to complete passes at a high rate. Anything over 60 percent and youâ€™re giving your team a chance to succeed on a weekly basis.
Houston accomplished that in his most extensive work last season, going 22 of 33 (66.7 percent) in the game against Illinois. Doing it for three quarters of a game is one thing, doing it for 12 to 14 games in a seaosn is another thing all together.
With Hornibrook breathing down his neck in terms of completion percentage and a more accurate deep ball, one of the biggest helps to Houstonâ€™s cause to stay the starter beyond the LSU game is to be smart about his passes. Being able to hit check downs, understanding coverages and defensive looks pre-snap and trusting his wide receivers are going to be huge components to Houston being able to complete 60 percent of his passes or more.
Donâ€™t Listen to the Media
This one has to be obvious, if for no other reason than reading negative or positive press about yourself is just a distraction from the task at hand.
Should Houston start to struggle, many in the media are going to question his role on the team and Chrystâ€™s decision to turn the keys of the offense over to him. Should Houston be an acceptable or even very good quarterback, he also canâ€™t read in to the press and continue to grow with the success he is having.
Donâ€™t believe the hype and donâ€™t beat yourself up over the bad press either. Houston has been around to see what happened to Stave, but having the soptlight on yourself is a whole different scenario all together.
There simply isnâ€™t a male child in this country that got in to sports and didnâ€™t dream of one day being the starting quarterback in front of 80,000 screaming fans and leading his team to a last-second victory or two. After all, thatâ€™s what all those local pick-up games in the street were all about, right?
Since then, Houston has taken the game very seriously and with his dream of being a starting quarterback in college coming true, it would be wise to remember that this is a game and it should be fun!
Go out there and enjoy yourself, be loose and most importantly be confident that you can be the quarterback that everyone wanted on their team growing up. Look inside for your inner child and just play the game, because if you take it too seriously youâ€™re likely to see it slip away just as fast as it came to you.