Donovan could play Saturday

Badgers may use redshirt freshman as situational quarterback during Outback Bowl

TAMPA, Fla. — Georgia may not be the only team with a change of pace quarterback Saturday. Bulldog junior D.J. Shockley will certainly play, providing senior star David Greene's heir apparent with experience, and Georgia with a more athletic look under center.

Wisconsin, though, could play redshirt freshman backup Tyler Donovan in the Outback Bowl, and not just in mop-up duty, providing the young signal caller with some worthwhile experience of his own.

"I'd like to get him in, get him some experience and be able to change some things up," UW quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton said. "Whether or not we can do that, don't know yet. Certainly, would like to somewhere in that football game give him an opportunity to play in this kind of environment."

Donovan has played sparingly this season as sophomore John Stocco's backup, appearing in just four games, all in mop-up time. He completed 2 of 3 passes for 7 yards but what is intriguing is Donovan's athleticism. He has run for 102 yards on just nine attempts, including a 44-yard run that was Wisconsin's longest until senior tailback Anthony Davis had a 45-yarder in the second-to-last game of the season.

"We'll see what happens," Donovan said. "It will be a game time kind of thing, depending on the situation, what Georgia's defense is doing a little bit. Maybe changing things up a little bit with a few plays. If the opportunity does arise it's going to be a great opportunity. It's going to be where I want to be."

As is customary during bowl season, Wisconsin's No. 2 signal caller is receiving more reps with the first team in bowl practices. Donovan typically received about 30 percent of the first-unit practice reps during the regular season, but is getting about 40 percent in bowl workouts.

"I wanted to try to get him more opportunities," Horton said. "He's one play away from having to play for real. I wanted to get him in there more with the first team where, one, he feels more comfortable. Two, try to put the pressure on him more. He hasn't had to go into a game this year with the game on the line and in one play he could have to do that against a great Georgia team."

As far as when Donovan could enter the game, Horton did not want to tip his hand. The point, though, is to give him a chance to prove himself if the appropriate situation arises.

"That's really exciting knowing that the coach is getting that much more confidence in me that they can put me in a situation like that and conduct an in-game situation and maybe doing some different things that could help benefit the team," Donovan said. "It's exciting and it's something that I can't wait to do."

Any playing time Saturday may also serve as an audition of sorts for Donovan. With all four quarterbacks returning next year — including talented true freshmen Bryan Savage and Craig Meier — competition for reserve roles will be fierce in the spring. A strong performance in spot work against Georgia would help Donovan make his case.

"I don't even let that get into my head," Donovan said. "I kind of stay away from that stuff. I just try to focus on my role. I just keep on trying to get better."

"I think he's getting a little better grasp of what we're trying to do," Horton said. "It's a big learning curve, trying to slow the game down, just trying to get him comfortable with the things we're trying to do. I see improvement in that area. Still needs to make improvement in just his decision making and understanding what to do. He's got a world of ability. He just has to become consistent.

"In order to play that position, you have to be consistent or I'm not going to put you in there."

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