New Badger quarterback and Maryland transfer, Danny O'Brien, embarked on the long drive from North Carolina to Madison with his mom last Thursday. With summer workouts beginning this past Monday - the day O'Brien was cleared to play - the time has finally come for him to step into the Wisconsin football program and begin his new life as a Badger.
NCAA rules prevented O'Brien from gaining access to the Wisconsin playbook until he officially enrolled in the school, but he will have more time to learn the system than Russell Wilson did a year ago. By the time his minor league baseball contract expired and he arrived at Madison, Wilson just had one month to learn the playbook and prepare for fall practice in August. Luckily for O'Brien, he will essentially have two months to learn the Badgers' offensive schemes and terminology.
Many say it is unfair to expect O'Brien to perform with results similar to Wilson's, and the same can be said for the mental aspects of his game. In unprecedented fashion, Wilson mastered a completely new offense in his limited offseason and boasted an NCAA record passer efficiency rating of 191.8. His sharp mental skills shined through last season and have already impressed many NFL executives.
Wilson's quick success in a new system serves as a rare case, so do not be surprised if O'Brien struggles out of the gates. O'Brien can, and certainly should, use Wilson as an example of something to strive towards. This applies to how O'Brien handles becoming a leader in a new locker room and not just from an on-field perspective. But we still cannot use Wilson as the precedent and undermine the challenge of learning a new offense in two months.
It helps that the Badgers have another favorable nonconference schedule in 2012, so O'Brien and company can afford to not start the season on their "A" game. Do not forget, in 2010 the Badgers looked dismal in nonconference play and still managed come out victorious in all four games. Not to mention, veteran Scott Tolzien was at the helm and that Badger team finished its season in Pasadena.
I am not giving O'Brien a pass, but we need to give him plenty of time before we can fairly judge him as a viable solution at quarterback.
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