According to a report by ESPN Wisconsin's Tom Lea the Badgers have named Curt Phillips the starting quarterback for Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers. It would be Phillips' first career start and according to the report the decision wasn't an easy one for head coach Bret Bielema and offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
In the report Lea stats that "One source said Philips has been receiving the bulk of the reps in practice and that it should 'be fun to watch' when the Badgers play the Hoosiers."
My hunch, and we'll expound on this more during tonight's Badgers Power Hour, is that this was about comfort level. I mean the comfort level of the players around the quarterback and the comfort level of the offensive coordinator to the player.
It's been no secret that since coming on board Matt Canada has been very intrigued by what Curt Phillips could bring to this offense as that has been stated several times by Bielema and Canada themselves. Hell, even Bielema mentioned it as late as this week's Monday press conference.
That is what I believe separated these two in the end. Wisconsin saw what Danny O'Brien was and wasn't capable of on the field and in the end they just weren't sold on his ability to lead this offense to enough points.
Overall the struggles of O'Brien and the offense under his leadership have been well documented. Some have argued he is getting a raw deal since the offensive line was different at the start of the season and then he had to play without Jared Abbrederis and face the Michigan State defense. Others have argued that O'Brien shouldered a lot of the blame for what happened at the beginning of the season.
I will admit to being more convinced by the second camp than the first in this discussion, but again you'll have to tune in to Badgers Power Hour for my reasons why (I know, shameless plug, right?).
All that I will say right here is that when you put him in the game against Nebraska and against Michigan State, how did the rest of the offense respond and how did the play calling change? Well, the teammates around him seemed to lose a step of confidence (especially in the 2nd half of the MSU game) and the play calling reverted back to the shell of what it was with Stave under center.
Clearly no one is happy having to look at replacing Stave, who was becoming a better QB week after week of experience, but it is what it is and moving forward I think putting Phillips under center is the only decision the Badgers could've made to go out and win the two games it needs to to make a 3rd straight trip to Pasadena.