Monday, August 20, 2012

Danny O'Brien Named Wisconsin Starting Quarterback

It comes as a surprise to probably no one not named Joel Brennan, but Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema named his 2012 starting quarterback on Sunday.

It's Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien.

In June, O'Brien transferred to Wisconsin from Maryland, where he made 17 starts the past two seasons and passed for 4,086 yards with 29 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He graduated from Maryland in May and became eligible immediately at Wisconsin.

O'Brien beat out senior Curt Phillips and redshirt freshman Joel Stave for the starting job.

"Both Curt and Joel had great camps as well, we are very fortunate that we have 3 QB's that can play winning football for us," Bielema tweeted.

Insert "Free agency," "QB Transfer U," or "ACC" jokes here. It'll be the second straight year that Wisconsin has taken an immediate transfer from an ACC school and named that player its starting quarterback.

Of course, Russell Wilson won the gig last season, and he did all right, leading the Badgers to a second straight Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth. It sure wasn't his fault that the Badgers didn't beat a beatable Oregon team in the Rose Bowl, either.

O'Brien doesn't have Wilson's track record. In fact, the former Terp has seen his share of struggles at this level. After a more-than-solid freshman season, O'Brien stumbled in 2011, throwing seven touchdown passes to ten interceptions. Maryland stunk under new head coach Randy Edsall, and O'Brien didn't appear to be a great fit in the offense moving forward.

That said, O'Brien was Wisconsin's best option from the minute he decided to play there.

You see, he doesn't need to be anything close to Wisconsin's offensive MVP. That's Montee Ball, the Heisman Trophy candidate who will hopefully be fully healthy and ready to go for the opener against mighty Northern Iowa. O'Brien also shouldn't have to worry about getting overwhelmed by opposing pass rushers, as the Badgers have yet another pretty good offensive line in front of him. With Jared Abbrederis back, the receiving corps should be good, too.

Maryland allowed 34 points per game last season, putting even more heat on O'Brien and the offense, which simply wasn't built for big numbers. This offense is built for big numbers, and the defense won't be nearly that bad.

It won't be as explosive as it was with Wilson, but O'Brien is an upgrade for the Badgers at quarterback, and the Badgers are easily good enough to win another Big Ten title.

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