Alex Hornibrook vs. Illini Pass Defense
Alex Hornibrook needs a bounce-back game badly after his performance against Michigan. He has been shaky at times in his Wisconsin career but nothing like what we saw this past weekend. He was unable to adjust to the pressure brought from the Michigan defense and missed open receivers. What was especially uncharacteristic about Hornibrook was his inability to convert on third down. Hornibrook has proven to be an efficient quarterback on third down in his career, which was nowhere to be found last Saturday night.
Seeing Hornibrook’s ability to bounce back from bad performances has me less worried than probably most. Hornibrook has proven he can forget about the past and move on to what is in front of him. It is probably the quality that Coach Chryst respects the most about his quarterback.
He has a short memory and is always looking to make a play the next time he has the football in his hands. Many Badger fans are critical of Hornibrook and his ability to lead the offense. Some of it is justified, but some of the criticism is a bit ridiculous. In my mind, there is no reason to even consider benching Hornibrook. He is by far the most experienced quarterback and is the best equipped to be under center going into this weekend. Everyone just needs to take a deep breath.
Let’s not all forget what Hornibrook did a couple of weeks ago in Iowa City. He was solid throughout the game and led an incredibly clutch drive to win the game for Wisconsin. He simply just needs to find the consistency that will elevate the Wisconsin offense to a much higher level.
Hornibrook will be facing a much different defense than what he saw going up against Michigan. The Illini defense features a scrambling secondary and a pass rush that struggles to get after the quarterback. A depleted secondary and an ineffective pass rush is essentially the worst combination a defense can have. Illinois’ defense can be exploited for big plays through the air as well as giving up chunk plays on the ground. If Jonathan Taylor can get going early, it will open up the passing game and allow Hornibrook to distribute the football.
I know that Illinois is not a big-time opponent, but it might be exactly what Hornibrook needs at this point in the season. He needs to go up against a team that will give him a chance to regain his composure and gives himself the confidence to throw the ball downfield. The Wisconsin Badgers will need Hornibrook to perform at a high level if it wants to compete for a Big Ten Championship this season. Look for Hornibrook to establish a rhythm early and to prove his doubters that he is still the best option under center.