Sep 15, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema (right) talks with quarterback Joel Stave (2) during a timeout during the fourth quarter against the Utah State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Utah State, 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Nobody could have envisioned a Danny O'Brien benching in favor of Joel Stave this early in the season. But nobody also could have predicted the Badgers' offense being one of the worst in FBS football and in the middle of an identity crisis. It's tough to put too much blame on O'Brien without much help from his offensive line and wide receivers, but Bielema saw it best to bench him in the Utah State game for ball protection purposes and to light a spark under his players.
The Badgers released an updated depth chart on Monday, revealing O'Brien and Stave as co-starters at quarterback. You'd assume this means it's a competition for the starting gig against UTEP next week, but at his weekly press conference, Bielema essentially said the coaching staff knows who will start this week (as do the QBs) but he wouldn't tell the media which one would be lining up under center. To me, if you're going to list two players as starters, they're either both going to receive significant playing time or there's a quarterback competition. According to Bielema though, that's not the case.
"It's not really a competition," Bielema said. "I think we have a plan we'll move forward with as coaches. It isn't a thing we're sitting and waiting and wasting time on."
I'm not sure if I agree with Bielema's logic here. If he already knows who will start on Saturday, why are there two quarterbacks listed as starters? It's sort of making something out of nothing. Why make this seem like a QB controversy and create a distraction, if it technically isn't even a competition? The whole situation is a giant mess, and we can only hope the offense can start proving it still has a pulse.
Other news from Bielema's press conference: (full transcript here)
— Jared Abbrederis (who is desperately needs to return) is still day-to-day with his concussion. He still needs to pass tests with team doctors before he gets the green light to return.
— Defensive end Pat Muldoon broke his hand and had surgery on it last week. He will be sidelined for at least the UTEP game.
"The Coaches' Poll voters continue to embarrass themselves by putting Wisconsin in the Top 25." Adam Rittenberg puts the Badgers at No. 11 in the Big Ten power rankings (unfathomable, but fair).
It's been an ugly year so far for the Big Ten conference, but see which bowl the ESPN Big Ten bloggers see Wisconsin headed to now (hint: It's not on New Year's day).
A preview of week four in the B1G.
Why Danny O'Brien will most likely remain UW's starter.
The offensive line made costly mental and physical errors in the Utah State game.