News and notes: Tyler Donovan retained the backup quarterback spot….Bryan Savage quickly overtook fellow true freshman Sean Lewis as No. 3, with walk-on Craig Meier No. 5…Marcus Randle El, recruited as a quarterback/athlete, was moved to wide receiver.
Fall MVP: John Stocco. After running away with the quarterback competition last spring, Stocco was steady this fall. The Badgers threw a lot at him defensively, especially in blitz period, and he handled it well. He had his struggles against the top defense, to be sure, but his competence within the offense is clear-cut. He knows what he is doing and where to deliver the football. His arm strength rivals that of Brooks Bollinger and Jim Sorgi and he can make plays with his feet when the opportunity arises.
Player on the rise: Bryan Savage. The only quarterback to move up the depth chart, Savage showed the arm strength and ability that made him a highly-touted prep prospect. The true freshman made his share of mistakes and could use time to develop but he has the tools to succeed as a Big Ten quarterback.
Questions answered: The No. 2 quarterback role was one of the Badgers' biggest questions heading into fall camp. Tyler Donovan outplayed Savage to lock down that spot. Donovan looks very good when he scrambles, whether to run or throw. He still needs to develop as a pocket passer but he showed progress in this area as well.
Questions remain: After only throwing 17 passes last season, how will Stocco react when put under center Sept. 4 and beyond? He looked like a gamer last spring, when the annual intrasquad contest was his best performance of the spring practice season.
How, if at all, will Wisconsin's offense change this season with Stocco taking the snaps? There was no discernible difference in the practice packages this fall, but that is practice. How will the Badgers' offense adjust to this starting quarterback?
What happens if Stocco gets hurt? The Badgers have gone some time since they last had a quarterback make it through an entire season unscathed. Tyler Donovan would step into the huddle but the offense could change dramatically with Donovan on board. If Wisconsin is going to be without Stocco for only a short time, do the Badgers take the redshirt off Bryan Savage or use Owen Daniels or Marcus Randle El as an emergency quarterback?
Final note: The prediction here is that the 2004 Wisconsin passing game will look similar in formation and play-calling to the 2003 edition, only with a slightly more nuanced attack (re: less vertical, more myriad underneath and in-between throws). With 2003 top target Lee Evans running with the Buffalo Bills, watch for a more even pass distribution this year as well, with Stocco developing three or four favorite targets.
Fall camp wrap, quarterbacks
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