- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Apologies for posting this late, but Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema made it official Thursday and named redshirt freshman Joel Stave as the team's starting quarterback for Saturday's game against UTEP.
Stave relieved Danny O'Brien in the second half of last week's victory against Utah State and reportedly took the majority of first-team reps at the start of the practice week. He completed 2 of 6 passes for 15 yards against Utah State.
Bielema pointed to Stave's steadiness and ball security as big factors for making the switch. O'Brien has committed three turnovers (2 fumbles, 1 interception) in the past two games.
"The fact Joel responded so well [against Utah State] … didn’t have any issues, no fumbled snaps," Bielema told reporters Thursday in Madison. "There wasn’t any incorrect calls. He didn’t show me any reason not to stay with him."
Bennett covered the significance of the then-likely switch to Stave on Wednesday. It continues the shakeup for an offense that stunningly has dropped to 116th nationally after setting records in each of the past two seasons. Although Stave, a former walk-on, emerged as the team's top quarterback in the spring, O'Brien quickly emerged as the best option after arriving from Maryland. This certainly isn't how O'Brien envisioned the start to his career at Wisconsin.
But at this point, the Badgers' offense needs a spark and some leadership, especially with the start of Big Ten play barely a week away. Bielema hopes the young Stave can provide it.