MADISON, Wis. -- Jon Budmayr could go down the path to complacency. It's pretty much right there in front of him.
While Wisconsin would like to have a true race to replace All-Big Ten quarterback Scott Tolzien, things haven't worked out that way.
Budmayr, who backed up Tolzien in 2010, is taking the lion's share of the reps this spring. The others go to a redshirt freshman (Joe Brennan) and a true freshman (Joel Stave). Besides Budmayr, the team's only other healthy quarterback who played last season is Nate Tice, best known for his famous father (former Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice) and for scoring a touchdown on a 17-yard bootleg against Indiana in an 83-20 Wisconsin win that some pundits considered to be a poor show of sportsmanship. Curt Phillips, who competed with Tolzien for the starting job in 2009, was ruled out for the season Saturday after undergoing his third knee surgery.
"You don't have a true competition with veteran guys," offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said.
And Wisconsin might not have one, especially with the latest news about Phillips. While both Stave and Brennan show some flashes, Bielema isn't sure if they can accelerate their play enough to start this fall.
Barring a surprise, Budmayr will lead the offense when the season kicks off Sept. 1 against UNLV.
A player in Budmayr's position could slack off this spring. But the redshirt sophomore, who is participating in his third spring practice, sees the path to complacency and goes the other way.
"The one thing Jon does is he really competes every practice and tries to take advantage of every rep," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said.
Budmayr benefited from playing behind Tolzien, a perfectionist known for his relentless preparation. Although Budmayr notes he's a different type of quarterback than his predecessor, he wants to mimic Tolzien's approach to practice.
"Each time you cross those lines, you've got to maximize your reps and get better each day," said Budmayr, who completed 8 of 10 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown last season. "You'll have some good days, some bad, and it's never really as good or as bad as you think. There's always good learning, especially in the spring, and if I can learn from some of the mistakes I'm having or certain situations, it will help me in the fall."
Budmayr has had his ups and downs. In last Saturday's scrimmage, he fired a touchdown pass to Montee Ball and connected with his tight ends on several completions before tossing an interception in the 2-minute drill.
At Tuesday's practice he showed off a plus arm on several throws but at times looked shaky in the pocket and didn't get rid of the ball fast enough. To be fair, Budmayr hasn't had No. 1 wideout Nick Toon available this spring, and the team is very thin at the receiver position.
"He does a good job of practicing like he's playing the game," Chryst said. "Therefore, things continually come up. What's a good play in this situation? Is he making the proper reads? Is he doing it in the proper timing or is he taking too long? All of those things, he's working on and trying to grow from."
Although many point to Budmayr's size as a concern -- he's listed at 6-feet, 195 pounds-- he boasts a strong arm and some skills that could set him apart from Tolzien.
"Jon's probably more along the lines of a Tyler Donovan." Bielema said. "A guy who can use his feet, who can get on the edges. We can use him in the play-action game. Very live arm. He's also a guy who is very conscientious. It's not just, 'Oh, I'm out here playing football.'
"He knows the consequences of every action he has can affect winning and losing."
It's an approach Budmayr will take until Sept. 1 and most likely beyond.