Sunday, August 19, 2012
Danny O'Brien to start opener for Badgers
By Adam Rittenberg
There was slightly more suspense about Wisconsin's quarterback situation this summer than last, but not much.
Much like with Russell Wilson in 2011, the Badgers didn't bring in graduate transfer Danny O'Brien to sit on the bench. O'Brien, who started 17 games for Maryland the past two seasons before transferring to Wisconsin in June, will lead the Badgers' offense in the season opener Sept. 1 against Northern Iowa.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema made the announcement via Twitter, writing, "want everyone to know we are going to start Danny O'Brien in our opener against UNI." Bielema added that senior Curt Phillips and redshirt freshman Joel Stave both "had great camps as well." Joe Brennan, who dropped on the depth chart in recent weeks, is expected to transfer and is no longer listed on the team roster.
The 6-foot-3, 223-pound O'Brien completed 342 of 603 passes for 4,086 yards with 29 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in two seasons at Maryland. He has two years of eligibility left for Wisconsin because he redshirted in 2009 and graduated in three years.
Despite O'Brien's struggles in 2011 in Randy Edsall's offense, he remains the best option for Wisconsin, which has had significant depth issues at quarterback since Scott Tolzien left. Although Phillips' recovery from multiple knee surgeries is admirable and Stave, a former walk-on, made some strides, neither man has the potential of O'Brien, the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2010.
O'Brien stood out during camp, throwing only one interception during the first two weeks. He's not Wilson and likely won't make the same type of impact as his predecessor, but he has made a smooth transition to an offense that brings back some very good weapons, led by running back Montee Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Will O'Brien be pushed during the next two years? Sure. But he's got the top job and the chance to hang onto it for the next 25 games or so.