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Badger Bits: The unavoidable comparison: Russell Wilson and Danny O'Brien

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As hyped as it was, Russell Wilson's transfer to Wisconsin went better than even the most optimistic Badger fans could have imagined. He worked his tail off to get ready for the season, flirted with all kinds of efficiency records and helped the Badgers win a Big Ten Championship. Now, in preparation for the NFL draft, Wilson is working with former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke and wowing NFL writers, who are undoubtedly just starting to get an idea of how awesome he is on and off the field.

But as great as Wilson was and as cool as it is to read stories like that from the NFL media, his time at Wisconsin is long gone, and the Badgers have giant shoes to fill. The transfer announcement of former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien has been the college football story of the week, and O'Brien made it clear he's at least interested in following in Wilson's footsteps---footsteps that lead to Madison.

By now, you're probably familiar with the two quarterbacks' similar stories: both are former ACC Rookies of the Year who had disagreements with their head coaches and wound up deciding to transfer, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players who have graduated to play immediately after transferring.

But what about the stats? Can O'Brien really be as good as Wilson? Here's a closer look at the two quarterbacks' best seasons with their original teams (Wilson as a sophomore and O'Brien as a freshman):


Russell Wilson (2009)

228 378 3027 59.3 8.01 31 11 147.8
Danny O'Brien (2010) 192 337 2438 57 7.23 22 8 134.5

There's a lot to get excited about here. O'Brien's numbers aren't quite as good as Wilson's, but it's important to remember O'Brien put up those kind of numbers as a freshman. Additionally, he'll have two years of eligibility left at whichever school he decides to transfer, whereas Wilson only had one.

One thing Wilson had that O'Brien lacks is the ability to scramble for first downs when the pocket breaks down. However, Wilson was sacked 30 times in 2009, while O'Brien only took 13 in 2010. More importantly, O'Brien was sacked once every 25.9 dropbacks. Wilson was sacked more than twice as often: once every 12.6 dropbacks. Obviously, getting sacked is partially out of the quarterback's control, but I think that final stat illustrates the fact that O'Brien's lack of mobility might not be as damning as it appears because of his ability to get the ball out quickly.

Football Links

There's still some confusion in regard to whether or not O'Brien can transfer to Vanderbilt.

If he is prohibited, an appeal could be on the way.

Brian Bennet discussed which players need to have a big offseason for the Badgers.

Hoops Links

After being pummeled on the banks of the Red Cedar last night, the Badgers' two ugliest games of the season have been in the state of Michigan.

Here's Jeff Potrykus' thoughts on the game.

Hockey Links

Chuck spoke with Denver hockey beat writer Mike Chambers about the Pioneers' upcoming series with the Badgers.

Justin Schultz says he has no regrets about staying in Madison this season.