Wisconsin Football: Bart Houston Building Lead in QB Battle

The early favorite to be the next Wisconsin football starting quarterback is Bart Houston

The Wisconsin football team is in search of a new starting quarterback, and Bart Houston is separating himself from the other options so far in spring ball.

After the graduation of Joel Stave, the Badgers have to turn to a new in charge of the offense. Immediately after the season and so far in the off-season, the general consensus among fans was that Houston, the most experienced returning option, would be the next guy.

The 6-foot-4, 232-pound senior has played in 15 career games, although some came as a punter in 2014, and has completed 29 of 51 career pass attempts for 295 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

His competition for the starting job in spring ball so far has been limited to redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook, as the only other quarterbacks listed on the roster are sophomore walk-on Bobby Dunn and early enrollee Kare’ Lyles, who is out with an injury.

So this spring has been a two-man battle, with Houston building on his role as the early favorite.

The Badgers hit the field for their first padded practice Tuesday, and in drills Houston reportedly looked more comfortable than Hornibrook.

Considering spring ball and practice reps are the only reps Hornibrook has taken so far in his career, it’s not surprising to see him still struggling a bit against the more experienced Houston, who has actual game experience under his belt, including guiding the Badgers to a win at Illinois when Stave was hurt.

As Jason Galloway reported for Madison.com, Houston simply looked more comfortable than the younger Hornibrook, who only completed eight of his 20 passes during team drills, and had two of his three interceptions returned for touchdowns.

The pressure of the starting quarterback job certainly won’t scare Houston away. Earlier this spring he told ESPN he was just going out each and every day to try to get better, and he’d let the rest work itself out.

“I’m just going out here trying to make myself better each and every day. Obviously there’s a competition because Coach [Paul] Chryst hasn’t named a guy. But I’m just worried about competing within myself, being a better Bart every practice, every day.”

And though Hornibrook is struggling at the moment, this spring will be very beneficial to his growth in the system. Should Houston win the starting job this year, the Badgers will be back in search of a starter come next spring when Houston graduates.

Only having two healthy guys in spring means there’s plenty of reps to go around, so Hornibrook must take advantage of these opportunities now, and Chryst said as much earlier this spring.

“One thing guys fight for is reps, and they’re going to get a ton of reps. What they do with those reps is really the key to it. But I think it’s a good situation for them, and I think they both can use the work.”

The duo will continue to get the work in practice, and each should see plenty of reps in the upcoming spring game on April 23.