Wisconsin's Quarterback Situation Just Got Stickier

By Connor Muldowney

It was every Wisconsin fan’s worst nightmare. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave was scrambling out to his right to avoid Michigan State defenders and then it happened.

William Gholston, the Spartans 6-foot-7-inch, 280-pound defensive lineman, got to the quarterback and slammed him to the ground. Gholston got up and Stave was still grounded, leaving Wisconsin fans worried for the young player.

Stave gingerly walked off the field and was later diagnosed with a broken collarbone, sidelining the Greenfield, Wisc. native for the remainder of the 2012 season.

Junior-transfer, Danny O’Brien, was waiting his turn to play after being benched following three starts in which the Badgers’ offense failed to get anything going to begin the season. Wisconsin fans didn’t know what to expect of the Maryland-transfer– he has had an up-and-down career. His freshman year at Maryland he finished with 22 touchdowns and just eight interceptions, but followed that up with a sophomore-slump, tossing just seven touchdowns and giving the ball away 10 times.

It was no secret that O’Brien was basically a toss-up. He could either be the quarterback that earned him the starting job as a freshman, or the quarterback that lost his starting job to a freshman.

Well, according to several reports, O’Brien won’t have a chance to shake the inconsistent image that he has portrayed to Badger coaches, fellow players and also fans. Fifth-year senior Curt Phillips has been named the starting quarterback for the Badgers according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Phillips is a surprise decision because of the fact that he has thrown just 12 career passes and never connected for a touchdown. The fifth-year senior hasn’t thrown a pass, in fact, since 2009 and has appeared in just one game this season– his first since the 2009 regular-season finale.

The main reason for Phillips’ lack of playing time? The senior quarterback has undergone three surgeries for a torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, and has been hobbled ever since. If you’ve ever torn an ACL, you know how painful it is to rehab and try to come back from that, especially as an athlete. Try doing that three times over.

Coach Bret Bielema loves what Phillips has to bring to the table.

“The perseverance and the battle he’s been through to get to where he is today, kids rally around him extremely well,” Bielema said. “He did a lot to get to where he is, and sometimes when you have that in somebody, it’s very hard to deny them the opportunity to have success.”

So for all you Wisconsin fans worried about the final three games of the season, Curt Phillips is a tough young kid and people everywhere will be cheering him on– as he is the underdog that people seem to love.

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