Bielema Addresses QB Depth Issue

In football the Quarterback position is the glamour position and right now at Wisconsin it couldn’t be more less-than glamorous thanks to injuries that will limit or keep out 2 QB’s from Spring andBB have left the Badgers depleted to say the least.  It’s left many wondering what needs to change to correct this issue, or if there is anything that can be done?  Monday we got a few answers from Bret Bielema as he sat down with the media to update how the beginning of Spring football has been going.  

The depth at the QB position has been a huge concern as right now Wisconsin is looking at only two being healthy enough to work in the Spring game on April 28th in Junior Joe Brennan and Redshirt Freshman Joel Stave.  

But doing some research it’s become clear that this problem actually took shape all the way back in 2009.  That’s when James Stallons left the program because of grades and left Wisconsin really one QB short ever since.  

Not only that but Curt Phillips, now a Senior, has suffered through 3 ACL surgeries and hasn’t seen the field since 2009 in his own right.  Right there the Badgers began to really become two quarterbacks short on the roster.

Because of the health issues some have questioned Bielema’s annual grab of just one quarterback per recruiting class.  Thanks to Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips’ injuries and incoming QB Bart Houston probably limited at the start of fall camp coming off of shoulder surgery it’s easy to see why some would bring up those questions this Spring.

However, for Bielema it’s not even a concern at this point.  

“First off, I made a decision, conscientious decision my first year: we were going to sign one quarterback and one tailback every year,” said Bielema.  “Obviously, the predicament that you get in is if you have two quarterbacks, or in our situation, three quarterbacks, and it didn’t work out because of injuries and with James Stallons because he flunked out.”

Last season the Badgers were faced with nearly the same situation as this year, the only difference being what we assumed was a healthy Jon Budmayr out of Spring football.  Wisconsin knew it needed some experience and landed Russell Wilson who as it turned out saved the Badgers season as Budmayr wouldn’t go beyond the first week or so in Fall camp and was later on shut down for the entire season with an elbow injury.

Bielema also mentioned that the rules in place regarding transfers of some players makes a difference in why they can stay with their recruiting philosophy.

“I think it provided an opportunity of what we saw last year with Russell (Wilson) and made it [a] very unique situation,” Bielema went on to say.  “But there are some unique rules in college football that allow that to kind of move forward.  So I think that, that QB position and the running back position are both unique in the fact that you can only get one of those guys on the field at a time.”

While depth remains a concern and we all await the decision of Danny O’Brien who paid a visit to Wisconsin that sources like have termed as “going well” there are two other teams still in the mix for him, Penn State and Ole Miss.  A decision could likely come soon since all of his visits have been taken at this point in time.

Monday also saw Bielema give an update on the health of Jon Budmayr who was throwing around the time of National Signing Day at the beginning of February, but a few short weeks later was shut down once again.  “At the end of the week, he got some indication of what they feel might be the problem,” said Bielema.  “He’s actually at the Mayo Clinic this week getting some second opinions for him to move forward and, hopefully, be on the right path there for him.”

We also got a glimpse of what the head coach thought of the two guys that will be competing in camp in Brennan and Stave.  Bielema stated they are completing over 70 percent of their passes through the first two practices, but that there were some things he wanted to see out of them this Spring.  

“I just want to see that composure in the huddle, being able to communicate,” said Bielema.  “And that’s been outstanding.  Then the second thing is just post-snap reads and reactions… being able to recognize pre-snap what the coverage is, being able to execute post-snap (with) decision making, and both of them have been been outstanding.”

Wisconsin is only two pratices into Spring camp so expecting these types of major roster and competitive issues to be solved already is unrealistic to say the least.  But the progress of those in camp seems to be heading in the right direction and come April 28th we’ll all have a much better clue as to where the depth of the QB position really stands.  Until then and probably deep in to Fall camp the debates will rage on.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site