2 quarterbacks to receive consideration during bye

first_imgWith another lackluster performance from backup Danny O’Brien, redshirt senior Curt Phillips has a chance to win the starting job.[/media-credit]Since taking the reigns as Wisconsin’s offensive line coach following a Week 2 loss to Oregon State, Bart Miller said he’s tried to rid his unit of relying on excuses for its mistakes.But he did offer some explanation for why the Badgers clawed their way to just 19 net yards on 37 attempts against Michigan State Saturday. Lining up against the Big Ten’s best defense, one loaded with physical specimens, Miller said the Wisconsin O-line matched the Spartans’ physicality but missed blocks on the most critical plays. “It really comes down to consistency. We had one play, we fit it up perfectly and we had a crease for seven or eight yards and we get into the safety,” Miller said. “The very next play or a couple plays later, we’re running the same thing, same technique, same look. We don’t cut him off or we don’t reach in or whatever it is.”It was a surprising disruption for a unit that picked apart the substantially less dominant defenses of Minnesota and Purdue each of the past two weeks.The O-line coach acknowledged his players were more than disappointed with their play Saturday, as the Badgers’ surrendered a season-high five sacks after previously allowing only 13 on the year. Whether churning the ball along the ground or throwing deep bombs down the sideline, Miller said the group guarding the trenches assumes responsibility for the offense’s overall performance.“Any time our quarterback gets touched, whether it’s our fault or not, we take it very personally,” he said. “It’s a knock to you as a blocker, it’s a knock to you as an O-lineman, as a unit, as a coach.”Exactly who Wagner & Co. will be protecting against Indiana following the bye week remains unclear, as Wisconsin’s quarterback position has become a two-man race between Danny O’Brien and Curt Phillips.Offensive coordinator Matt Canada said Phillips and O’Brien will continue to split reps all week before coaches reach a decision on who will take the opening snap in Bloomington closer to the game.“[We’ve] got two guys who have definitely put in their time to earn the right to compete,” Canada said. “Curt has not had as many chances in the game as Danny has, but both of them work hard.”Whether the redshirt junior who started the first three games of the year or the dual-threat fifth-year senior takes over at quarterback, a fresh face will present plenty of challenges for the offensive line.Though the Badgers’ line worked with both O’Brien and Phillips throughout fall camp and the former for the opening games this year, neither has taken the majority of the snaps since conference play began Sept. 29.“Joel has played very well for us over the year; he’s gotten adapted to the way we block, the way we pick things up, that guys have trust in him,” Miller said. “It hasn’t been that way with Danny [or Curt] the last couple weeks because they haven’t really played.”Miller also said standout left tackle Ricky Wagner nearly played against Michigan State after practicing late last week and will rejoin the line against Indiana. When he returns, Ryan Groy will shift back to his usual spot at left guard, he added.Badgers run off courseWith a combined average of 2.2 yards per carry, neither Montee Ball nor James White could find any space along the line of scrimmage against Michigan State.While Miller and his crew along the line were quick to assume blame, running backs coach Thomas Hammock refused to use the Spartans’ consistent success stopping the rush as an excuse for a floundering ground game Saturday.With defensive ends Marcus Rush and William Gholston clogging up the line and a group of linebackers Miller said was likely the best in the conference, Michigan State now ranks seventh nationally in rushing defense.“They’re a good defense, but that’s what you want to do,” Hammock said. “In this game you want to play the best, and you want to compare yourself against the best. We didn’t step up to that challenge, so hopefully the next time we’ll be prepared for the next one.”After three straight games with at least 100 rushing yards – including a career-high 247 in a 38-14 win over Purdue – Ball pounded his way to just 46 yards. His longest run amounted to just 13 yards.But Ball didn’t deliver an emotional rally cry to his fellow tailbacks – White and redshirt freshman Melvin Gordon – following the Badgers’ second conference loss of the season.“I think we’re past that stage of delivering messages,” Hammock said. “We just got to go out and perform and we got to go out and … play at a high level.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *