It was a winning debut at Wisconsin for much hyped transfer QB Danny O'Brien as he led the Badgers to a 26-21 victory over Northern Iowa. Not only did he lead them, but he did so in efficient fashion, going 19-23 for 219 yards with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Was it as good as all parties wanted? No, but fans got to see just the type of quarterback O'Brien is and that is important as the comparisons between Wilson and him should officially stop at this point.
As for the feelings of running out of the tunnel in front of nearly 80,000 fans at Camp Randall?
"It was unbelievable, said O'Brien. "To have that crowd on your side and for it to be a home game. Finally seeing what other guys have been talking about Camp Randall, I got goose bumps down my back. It was awesome."
One thing to like is despite the efficient nature of O'Brien's first game he sees room for improvement already.
"Not as consistent as I would of liked, but after we got settled in we did alright," said O'Brien assessing his own play. "Obviously we've got to move the ball better on rd down. But, a lot to learn from. It's just about getting better next week week, but we'll be o.k."
3rd down wasn't exactly great for the Badgers as O'Brien mentioned, converting on just 59% of those attempts (9 of 16 for the game).
But on the flip side the Badgers also went 4-for-4 inside the redzone, a rate any team will take in route to a victory.
O'Brien and company seemed to have control of the game, but by the later part of the 3rd quarter things changed, so what did O'Brien think after UNI made it 26-21?
"You can never predict it. Northern Iowa is a good team, overall we weren't consistent as a team."
O'Brien hooked up with Jared Abbrederis for his two passing touchdowns, both were plays called based on knowledge of the defensive scheme and were designed to work just as they did.
As for the 2nd touchdown to Abbrederis, the 53 yard bomb, O'Brien's knowledge of the game paid off.
"I thought if they gave us the look they did it was going to be a good thing. We did a great job play faking and just finished the rest. I was pretty pumped about it pre-snap."
There seemed to be times when the Badgers offense held off on going deep, but as the touchdown to Abbrederis showed O'Brien and Wisconsin are more than capable of making those plays happen.
Going deep more often just depends on defensive schemes and the game plan for the week at hand according to O'Brien. He also knows it's important to hit on those plays.
"You only get a few opportunities of those kind of plays and you've got to convert it," O'Brien said of the deep TD to Abbrederis. "It's one thing I'm proud that we did do in the passing game."
One of the biggest bright spots in the passing game besides the deep ball was the chemistry that O'Brien had with the running backs and full backs in the game.
Speaking on Ball and his performance (120yds rushing, 3 rec for 31yds and 1TD rushing) O'Brien made it clear that Ball is more than just a runner.
"He's an all-around back, I think anyway you can get your talented guys the ball when you want to [is a good thing]," said O'Brien. "he did a great job in pass protection and running the ball."
The other backfield player that stood out in the passing game was Derek Watt, who made the transition from linebacker to fullback just two weeks ago. He caught 2 passes for 14 yards in his Badger debut.
O'Brien clearly feels comfortable having him around in what appears to be an increasing role.
"He's (Watt) a great athlete, he made that transition smoothly," said O'Brien. "He's going to be a big part of what we do this year."
Overall, it was a solid debut and in the end the win matters most. O'Brien and Wisconsin are 1-0 and will look to take that 1-0 mentality into next week and every week this season.