Here’s our lesson for the day: Don’t listen to Matt Canada when he tells you who will be playing quarterback. Early in the week Canada flat out said he expected Danny O’Brien to start Saturday despite his benching against Utah State. If that was indeed the plan Monday, by Tuesday it had changed. Instead of O’Brien, Joel Stave got the snaps with the first unit on Tuesday, indicating that he’ll be the starter instead of the Maryland transfer. O’Brien took all his snaps with the second team.
Sources have since confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Stave will be under center on Saturday. That of course doesn’t mean that Stave will play the entire game. It could be that Bret Bielema plans to alternate his quarterbacks or maybe just give O’Brien a series or two along the way. Or maybe Bielema has made up his mind that O’Brien’s not the guy. Which would be somewhat of a stunning development given all the hype that attended O’Brien’s decision to play at Wisconsin.
The story of O’Brien’s downfall really starts with turnovers. He fumbled the ball away in the Oregon State game and did it again against Utah State. Ball security is huge at any time but it’s especially huge when you’re not really moving the ball at all on offense. Another issue has been O’Brien’s tendency to break out of the pocket and run around as if he thinks he’s Russell Wilson. Bielema would obviously like O’Brien to step up in the pocket and deliver the ball, not bail and try to make plays that he’s really not capable of making.
Of course it hasn’t helped that the O-line is struggling and that Jared Abbrederis hasn’t been in there. But a lot of the problem has been O’Brien and clearly Bielema thinks it’s time to see someone else. So O’Brien sits and Stave is thrown into the fire.