Spring Football - Quarterbacks

We’ve delayed this conversation for long enough and thankfully we did wait because the news of Danny O’Brien’s transfer to Wisconsin certainly changes what we would’ve said, well at least in terms of the outlook after Spring football is over.  Realistically not much has changed about the crop of players the Badgers will feature in the Spring. 

Wisconsin only has 2 1/2 quarterbacks available to them this Spring because Curt Phillips, who’s coming off of a 3rd knee surgery, is limited to non-contact drills through the Spring.  So, come April 28th we’ll get a lot of Joe Brennan and Joel Stave.  

That could be a good thing or a bad thing.  Good because we’ll finally know what we have out of them in terms of how they look.  Bad because if one doesn’t emerge as someone that commands the offense we could very well be looking at a shaky at best situation should anything happen to Danny O’Brien this fall.  

Add in the fact that they will be running a new offense behind new Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada and Spring football has never been more important in the Bret Bielema era.

So, with that let’s take a look at what the QB’s in camp bring to the table and what questions need to be answered coming out of Spring ball.

Curt Phillips - RS Sr. - 6’3″ 225lbs. 

This is it for Phillips.  No more chances, no more breaks.  According to all accounts he was having a good Spring last year before re-tearing his ACL.  He got an extra year of eligibility due to medical hardship and is back for one final chance to prove he’s someone that can compete with Danny O’Brien in the fall.  He was once thought of as the QB of the future for Wisconsin but that injury bug has killed those thoughts.  He was a highly sought after recruit and someone that was thought of as a QB with a great arm and great legs.  He won’t see any action in the actual Spring game, but his performance in the coming weeks will be scrutinized by the media that will be in attendance at some of the coming practices.

Questions this Spring: 

The biggest question is how is the knee?  Can he hold up long enough to make it through a camp healthy?  If so, does he have the ability to get out of the pocket or float around in the pocket the way he used to, or is he a stand up passer now?  Those are all huge questions that he needs to answer.  


Joe Brennan - RS So. - 6’3″ 213lbs. 

Brennan spent last year as the backup by default to Russell Wilson after Jon Budmayr went down with an elbow injury that is still causing him issues.  Brennan’s performance in the six games he played wasn’t all that inspiring to say the least (6-15, 48yds, 1INT).  He’ll have every opportunity under a new OC and QB’s coach to improve and let’s face it, it was just his freshman season last year.  

Questions this Spring: 

Can he become more accurate?  Last year he seemed to have issues being accurate with throws that should’ve hit their targets rather easily.  Also, he needs to answer whether or not he’s capable of making all the throws needed.  There were times where he looked shaky throwing the ball down the sideline and making throws across the field.  We’ll have answers to all those questions one way or the other by the end of April 28th that’s for sure.


Joel Stave - RS Fr. - 6’5″ 223lbs. 

I don’t know if there was ever more hype for a walk-on early entrant QB in the history of the program than there was after Stave’s performance in the Spring game last year.  It was a product of how he looked and how bad all the rest of the QB’s looked in that game.  The Badgers staff last year thought a lot of him and not a week went by without mentioning his progress.  Thanks to no injuries at QB last year they were able to redshirt Stave and another quality Spring could vault him to the top of the heap heading into fall camp.

Question this Spring: 

Exactly how much has Stave grown?  We saw a ton of potential last year and come April 28th we’re gonna need to see even more polish on his game to know if he’s for real or just a one Spring game wonder.  Again, we also need to see how he has taken to the new coaching staff because not everyone clicks at the same level.  By all indications he’s a quick learner and if he picks up the offense like he did last year we could be looking at a guy that’s forcing himself into the conversation come this fall once again.


No matter what happens this Spring you should fully expect Danny O’Brien to take over as QB1 come Fall camp.  The biggest question is does Stave or Brennan get the backup role or can Bart Houston learn fast enough to be in the conversation out of the gate.

Speaking of O’Brien we’ll have a full half hour special edition of Badgers Power Hour tonight discussing the impact of his transfer with former Badger and NFLer LaMar Campbell.  Additionally, don’t forget to take some time and get your “Down with D.O’B” t-shirts at the MadTownBadgers Store.

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, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com