Even as he began his tenure as Wisconsin's starting quarterback completing just 2 of 9 passes, John Stocco maintained a calm demeanor.
"He was pretty level-headed when he came to the sideline. He never seemed rattled…He never showed any signs of any panic," quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton said.
Moreover, while Stocco struggled early against Central Florida, (he also fumbled twice in the second quarter, though the Badgers recovered each mishap) there were clear signs that he was not in danger of unraveling.
"I thought he made great decisions all day," Horton said Wednesday. "He really didn't make a bad decision the whole game. He's not going to hit every pass—nobody's 100 percent. Once he settled down—he was anxious, he wanted to makes some plays—as that game went on he got better."
Decisions, such as the play Stocco made in the first-quarter with the Badgers at third-and-six at the Golden Knight 22. The Badgers wanted to throw a screen pass to tailback Booker Stanley in the left flats, but UCF linebacker Ty Kalandyk immediately pressured Stocco from his right. In a similar situation a few series later, Golden Knight quarterback Steven Moffett would throw an interception to UW defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne. Rather than force the issue, Stocco threw the ball into the ground short of Stanley. The play avoided a possible intentional grounding penalty and allowed Mike Allen to kick a 40-yard field goal to give Wisconsin a 10-3 lead.
"Right there that showed that he was pretty locked in on what he needed to be," Horton said.
Horton was also pleased with Stocco's game management.
"He got all the signals in, he got the plays called, we didn't have any delay of games, we didn't have to take unnecessary time outs," he said.
Stocco settled into a rhythm late in the second quarter, throwing a touchdown pass to Jonathan Orr and setting up a field goal with a 30-year completion to Brandon Williams. He added a touchdown run and a second touchdown pass in the second half.
"I missed some passes that I shouldn't have missed but we got the win and that's all that I was trying to do," Stocco said. "That was my first complete game that I played so I think the next one will be a little bit easier now that I'm more used to the speed of the game and things like that.
"He just got better and better as the game went on," Horton said. "That was great to see. With each snap he gets a little more experience and a little more awareness."
On the right track
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