Thursday, January 19, 2012
Badgers QBs, LBs on the mend
By Adam Rittenberg
Now that Wisconsin has hired the man to guide its offense, the big question in Badger Land is who will run Matt Canada's plays in 2012.
The Badgers' two most experienced quarterbacks, Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips both are coming off of major injuries. Budmayr, pegged to compete with Russell Wilson in August for the starting quarterback job, developed a nerve problem in his throwing elbow that forced him to undergo surgery and miss the season. Phillips also missed the season after tearing his right ACL for the third time in spring practice.
Head coach Bret Bielema provided updates on both quarterbacks Wednesday, and the outlook looks favorable.
Although Budmayr had a setback in December that caused him some significant pain, he has recovered quickly and resumed throwing with an arm that Bielema says is 90 percent healthy.
"Jon is coming along a lot faster than initially they thought in the month of December," Bielema said. "He literally went through a tough couple days, he was having a lot of pain. From that day forward, [he] has miraculously come back. There's something that happened that's really triggered him to get back healthy in a short amount of time."
Bielema added that Phillips is "very positive" about his health. The coach expects both quarterbacks to be involved when spring practice kicks off March 17, although to what extent isn't known.
Canada certainly would benefit from being able to see both players, and especially Budmayr, on the field at close to full speed. Joel Stave and Joe Brennan also will be in the mix. It's hard to expect much from Phillips after so many knee issues, but he can be a weapon if healthy.
Bielema also provided injury updates Wednesday on linebackers Mike Taylor and Ethan Armstrong. Taylor, the Big Ten's leading tackler and a second-team All-Big Ten selection, recently underwent hip surgery after dealing with the injury all season. He'll miss spring ball.
Armstrong also is out for the spring after undergoing surgeries on both of his hips.
While Taylor and Chris Borland can be penciled into the starting lineup as linebackers, Armstrong will have to compete for the third spot in preseason camp.