Wisconsin football needs to start thinking long and hard about what to do at quarterback moving forward.
Saturday night was bad for the Wisconsin Football program. That is about as true of a fact as there is. Alex Hornibrook played awful which has now left all of Badger nation wondering where the team goes moving forward at the quarterback position.
This team had about as high of hopes as possible entering the season with the real X-factor being which version of Hornibrook would show up each week. After winning Orange Bowl MVP and leading the Badgers to a 13-1 record in 2017, many fans thought that Hornibrook had taken that step forward and had what it takes to lead this program to heights it has never reached before.
That all came crashing down in disastrous fashion in The Big House.
Despite the letdown, Hornibrook tried to put the loss in perspective and talk about the what is left for the Badgers the rest of the season.
While this may be true, the outlook for Hornibrook might be less positive. I mean yes, the Badgers still control their path to Indianapolis and the chance to play for a Big Ten championship but there is a massive difference between playing in and competing in that game. If Wisconsin can reach Indy the outlook for whoever they would face can’t be good given what we all witnessed from Hornibrook Saturday night.
I know he has confidence in himself; what quarterback at this level doesn’t? From an outside perspective though, the rest of this season feels like a lose-lose situation for him. He can continue to perform poorly and the heat will only intensify. He can play well and show flashes of that Orange Bowl game or even the last drive against Iowa, which will have fans asking, “Where was this against Michigan?”
I know Michigan has one of the best defenses in the country and Wisconsin will not face another defense quite like that unless there is a rematch in the Big Ten Championship. That does not mean that every game will be a cakewalk either. Iowa still has a shot at winning the West division and Northwestern is staring over Wisconsin’s shoulder as well. This team is going to need to get consistently good quarterback play in order to keep this season from being a complete flop.
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So back to the original question: What does this team do moving forward at the quarterback position?
Hornibrook is 24-5 as a starter should remain the starter because he has earned that right. It his job to lose. With that being said, I am not opposed to seeing Jack Coan and/or Danny Vanden Boom get some snaps during some meaningful game time. If not to at least to maybe light a fire under Hornibrook, but because having backups with some game experience can never be a bad thing in case of injury. The quarterbacks on this roster other than Hornibrook have attempted just five combined passes during an actual game.
Paul Chryst has shown in the past that he will pull someone from a game as a form of motivation. He has down it with Jonathan Taylor and his fumbling problems and he even put in the second team offensive line against BYU for a series. He just hasn’t done it with the player who has probably deserved it most at times.
This kind of change also would not fall under that old adage of “If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” This team has a quarterback and I’m not suggesting that Alex Hornibrook is tossed to the side never to be heard again but seeing something different can’t hurt. There were a lot of people who had finally seen enough and would be fine if Hornibrook never started another game in a Wisconsin uniform; I’m just not one of them.
Football is a copycat game to some extent. Coaches see something on film that worked for one team and use that to their advantage when it is their turn to face an opponent. It works for x’s and o’s but not when it comes to players. Not every roster is equal in college football.
The counter argument to his response is that we don’t know what the Badgers have on their bench because no one has seen it. It might not be Tua Tagoviola or Trevor Lawrence good but it can’t be worse than what we all saw against Michigan.