Spring football wrap: quarterbacks

Part 5 of BadgerNation.com's position-by-position look at who thrived and what questions remain.

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News and notes – John Stocco ran away with the starting job, earning the right to replace Jim Sorgi….Matt Schabert received few reps in an effort to give redshirt freshman Tyler Donovan and freshman Sean Lewis as many looks as possible.


Spring MVP – John Stocco. Wisconsin's coaches said during the spring that Stocco began taking command of the No. 1 spot during offseason workouts with strength and conditioning coach John Dettman. In the spring, Stocco grabbed the job and would not let go, leaving the rest of the team's signal callers trailing far behind. Stocco demonstrated the arm strength and accuracy to make all the necessary throws. He meshed well with the incumbent starters on the offense and coaches and teammates raved about his leadership skills. Despite having the arm to wing the ball all over the field, Stocco struggled to connect on deep passes for much of the spring but improved in this area throughout the 15 practices. The weekend before the spring game, Stocco put it all together and had a pair of excellent practices throwing down field. He capped spring with a very strong performance in the Cardinal-White scrimmage, completing 12 of 18 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns in one half. Stocco did not face much pressure in that game, but fared well against a variety of blitz packages during spring practices. His decision making was strong throughout spring.


Who is No. 2? – A situation developed this spring that is reminiscent of the 2003 season. Like Stocco, Sorgi was the No. 1 quarterback by a wide margin. Nobody seemed quite sure what to expect from Sorgi just as it is unclear what Stocco, however talented he is, will do when he starts his first game in September. And like last season, it is anybody's guess what will happen if No. 1 goes down.


Schabert opened 2003 as the No. 2 quarterback and could very well fill that role again in the fall by default. He received very little work this spring, which, according to Wisconsin's coaching staff, was because they know what he can do and they wanted a closer look at Donovan and Lewis. It also, though, sends a clear, if unstated, message that the Badgers view Schabert as an insurance policy they would rather not take out. In his limited practice time this spring, Schabert demonstrated exactly what he has throughout his career: he is a fundamentally sound player with distinct physical limitations.


Donovan, on the other hand, clearly has the athleticism to become a good Division I quarterback. He has the ability to make eye-popping plays, but continues to struggle to make the right decisions and remain consistent. After starting strongly in the spring game, he fizzled after a few poor throws and a dropped pass broke his rhythm. He appeared to lose confidence until completing the first of two long touchdown passes to Brandon White late in the game. The biggest thing to watch come August is how much Donovan develops after his first spring. Coaches and commentators have said that he is about at the same spot in his development that Stocco was at last spring. Wisconsin would like nothing more than for Donovan to state his case as the No. 2 quarterback early in fall camp. If he can maintain confidence in his abilities and cut down on mistakes then he will run away with the backup role.


Lewis endured growing pains. As advertised, he is big, strong, intelligent and athletic. His release time, though, is too slow and he struggled to pick up the offense and make the right decisions. However, Lewis kept his head high and continued working diligently throughout spring. He has the tools and demonstrated improvement, but he needs time to develop. It would be startling if he does not redshirt in the fall.


The lack of clarity at No. 2 leaves the door open for incoming freshmen Marcus Randle El and Bryan Savage.


Note to readers: BadgerNation.com's review of spring practice will continue Monday morning

Spring football wrap

Part 1 - wide receivers

Part 2 - defensive ends

Part 3 - offensive linemen

Part 4 - special teams

Part 5 - quarterbacks

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