Badger Bits: Danny O'Brien, Man of Intrigue

COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 05: Quarterback Danny O'Brien #5 of the Maryland Terrapins drops back to pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Byrd Stadium on September 5, 2011 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

To say that Wisconsin's season might turn on the quarterback position isn't revelatory. The Badgers' efficiency at the position the last two seasons is arguably the biggest reason why those teams were not just good offensively, but great. After all the Badgers have had effective running games before. But with 70-plus percent passers Wisconsin's offense went nuclear, recording it's two best seasons ever in terms of total offense and points per game.

As a result, a lot of eyes will be on Wisconsin, locked on yet another transfer trigger man, except this one has more serious questions to answer than "How tall are you?"

Danny O'Brien was tabbed as one of 2012's most intriguing players in college football by Matt Hinton at CBS Sports. O'Brien played two seasons at Maryland to two very different outcomes. His redshirt freshman year was a resounding success. O'Brien was named the ACC's freshman of the year in his redshirt freshman season, throwing 22 touchdowns to eight interceptions with the help of Torrey Smith stretching the field. In his sophomore season his yards per attempt fell by a full yard, his TD:INT went to 7:10, and Maryland's record went from 9-4 in 2010 to 2-10 in 2011.

The popular explanation has been that the Terps' new coaching staff was more interested in putting their system in place than fitting the playbook around personnel. While true, O'Brien still had to put the ball in the air. He went 5-for-20 against Boston College and 7-for-16 against Florida State before both teams had to put in their second-string defenses, struggling with accuracy and decision-making.

When Smith jumped to the league, O'Brien failed to build a rapport any member of an admittedly weak receiving corps. Unfortunately, he may be stepping into a similar situation at Wisconsin, where outside of Jared Abbrederis there are no proven options in the receiving corps. O'Brien has proven he can produce in the right context, but whether he can carry a team by his lonesome like Russell Wilson did in fourth quarters last season remains to be seen.

Hinton hints that O'Brien's performance could mean the difference between a third-straight Rose Bowl and a take-your-pick trip to Florida. I'm inclined to agree, but as of yet it's impossible to tell exactly what version of O'Brien will be showing up to start the season.

Thursday's Links

Wisconsin is favored to win the Legends Division by Vegas, and was second in the league with 5-2 odds to win the B1G. Michigan was handed 2-1 odds.

Pete Carroll keeps fueling the idea that Russell Wilson can start for the Seahawks next season, which is fine by me:

"We'll find out if it is," Carroll said. "Everybody assumes that it is. We haven't seen any evidence of that so far in the camps that we have had. He's got extraordinary film from his college days. He can do everything that you need a guy to do. He's a very exciting young man, very exciting player. And he's going to get a heck of a shot here."

Sam Dekker scored seven points on an infected toe to help lead the United States U-18 squad to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship over the host Brazilians.

Wisconsin took third in the Big Ten in APR according to a progress report released by the NCAA.

Jazz Peavy and Hayden Biegel talk more about their commitments. Also, mention of Austin Ramesh also coming in as a grayshirt.

Adam Jacobi ranks the Big Ten's strong safeties, and tabs Shelton Johnson at No. 5.

Taking a look at the conference's best senior pro prospects.

The B1G features plenty of talented linebackers this season. Two familiar names top the list of the most productive returning tacklers.

Iowa is still waiting on Greg Garmon to show up. AIRBHG is cruel as he is cruel.

It's Michigan State week at OTE. Just one more week until the good guys get the spotlight.

BHGP final installment in their "Pro Combat Goes B1G" series looks at Ohio State, and holy crap is it awesome.

The Crimson Quarry takes a look back at what could have been under Terry Hoeppner.

Wrapping up: BCS commissioners agreed on a four-team playoff yesterday. Bust out the funeral music and speakeasy garb, the BCS is dead.

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