I don't blame you. I blame the environment you grew up in. - Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
With the injury to Joel Stave, I declare it's time for the Badgers to dance with the unknown.
I'm gonna say something. I waited until Monday, because I didn't want this to come from the angry id caps-locked part of my brain. Because let's be honest. We needed a weekend to vent our venom. But since we're being honest?
If Curt Phillips isn't starting going forward, there better something physically wrong with him.
I know this isn't as brave of a stance as it could have been had I finished this post on Sunday night. I know, there are a couple of members of the fan base who still think Danny O'Brien gives us a better chance to win. They thought this when we were feeling great. They thought of this when we were ranked. Heck, they thought of this on Friday.
But they're wrong. It's not O'Brien's fault. The last quarterback who had to understand Gary Crowton's brand of football and managed personal success on any level? Brandon Doman. Before that, it's Tim Rattay. I mean, this is my coldly logical, man of science brain talking. The DOB cannot handle the pressure.
Now I know BadgerInDC has already fired off a missive saying how dare I, O'Brien's the better quarterback than Stave on third down, I thought we discussed this! He's throwing as well as Aaron Murray on third down! Aaron Murray!
And I say okay. If we're going to discuss situations, I've got three for you. One of the times where it's as important to move the ball on third down is when the game is tied, or the Badgers absolutely, positively have to have a score to take back the lead. Danny O'Brien is 15-of-33 for 170 yards with a score and a pick. He's throwing for 5.15 yards per attempt in this situation.
These numbers are not great. In fact, they're kind of horrible. Compare it to even the quarterbacks of lesser teams, Dustin Sherer completed 49.1 percent of his passes with 6.40 yards per attempt, Tyler Donovan completed 51.5 percent of his passes for 7.90 yards per attempt.
I mean, compare it to Stave. 35-of-49 for 537 yards and three scores against a pick. 71.4 percent of his passes were took in by Badger hands. He averaged 10.95 yards per attempt. And guess what? He was only one completion off of Scott Tolzien's senior season completion rate, with almost two more yards per attempt.
My second situational stat? Passing inside the opponent's 40. Here, O'Brien also completes 45 percent of his passes for around 5.15 yards, and again, these are not great numbers. I'm not going to praise Stave in comparison, because while he's better, he feels it in this situation as well (54 percent completion mark and 6.79 yards per attempt). But while Stave's not as completely dominant, O'Brien's empirically worse than Sherer (51.9 percent, 5.02 yards per attempt) and Allan Evridge (60 percent, 7.22 yards per attempt).
My third situational stat? Sacks. They happen. You can't stop them from happening. But the thing of it is? You can mitigate the damage. You lose five yards instead of ten, you can possibly get the drive back on track. Danny O'Brien is averaging over ten yards lost per sack (8 sacks/89 yards lost). That's another first down just to get back to where you were. This is another situation where Stave isn't so much better. (8.4 yards lost per sack.)
But he only lost six yards in the Michigan State game from only two sacks. O'Brien lost 32 from three. Stave showed he was learning how to mitigate damage. O'Brien should just know better.
As I said from the get go, I don't mean to castigate O'Brien. He had an all-time idiot tutoring him last year. But the jury's in on O'Brien. He's a check-down quarterback who when he's needed to be at his best is at his worst.
Maybe he's still better than Curt Phillips. Maybe he doesn't have the panache to even garner O'Brien's overall 6.1 yards per attempt -- good for a tie with Andrew Maxwell and Dominque Blackman, he of the first head coach fired this year Idaho Vandals. But right now? We need to see what we have in him.
In political didactic chanting terms? Curt won't hurt.