Backup Quarterbacks Ready For Opportunity

Though Stocco could be back for UW's opener with Bowling Green, Tyler Donovan and Dustin Sherer will battle for the No. 1 spot for now.

Wisconsin's offense took a big hit Friday when it was announced that John Stocco underwent knee surgery that will sideline him for the rest of fall camp.

The third-year starter set four school records last season and helped lead the Badgers to a victory over Auburn in the Capital One Bowl. While the loss of Stocco is obviously not good news, it could be worse.

On Friday, UW head coach Bret Bielema said there was no timetable for return.

"John will be back when he's ready to be back," the first-year head coach said. "I haven't been told that it's going to be the opener and I haven't been told that it's not."

Bielema likened the surgery to that which sidelined former quarterback Jim Sorgi in 2003. Sorgi had surgery on Oct. 20th of that year, missed a game against Northwestern and benefited from an open week in the schedule before returning for a bout with Minnesota.

All Sorgi did that day at the Metrodome was throw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns—albeit in a Badger loss.

"I'm not overly concerned. It's something we needed to address," Bielema said. "It's very similar to—and I wasn't here—but when [Jim] Sorgi was here and there was an off-week and he missed a period of time. It's very similar to that type of situation."

Meanwhile, the battle continues for Tyler Donovan and Dustin Sherer continues, but the prize they are competing for will be much grander over the next couple of weeks.

With senior John Stocco on the mend from knee surgery, Donovan, a junior, and Sherer, a redshirt freshman, are now competing for the No. 1 job.

The competition between them is nothing new. They have been competing for the No. 2 spot since spring.

"I don't think anything should change," Sherer said after Friday's practice. "We should just keep doing the things we have been doing."

"Nothing has changed, I'm just out here trying to get better," Donovan said. "I wish John the best, but this is a situation for me to step up now and do my thing."

On the bright side, the next few weeks will give the backups some much-needed experience with the first-team offense. It may not be game-speed experience, but the two are planning on making the most of their new opportunity.

Donovan saw action in three games last year, but did more damage on the ground than through the air. He threw just three passes all year, completing two of them for a total of seven yards. For his career, he is 5-of-9 for 56 yards, but did rack up 117 yards rushing on just 11 carries in 2005.

As a freshman, Sherer has even less experience.

"The more reps you get at a one-spot, the more and more you get a feel for the game and get in a rhythm," Donovan said. "I think this is a great opportunity. This is a tough situation, but then again we can't just make it stop. We have to take this as a learning experience."

Both backups, who took some heat during spring football, feel like they have come a long way. Their play thus far in fall camp has shown improvement.

"Coach Chryst is a great teacher of the game and he knows how to break everything up into pieces for us," Donovan said. "You can really see everything come together the way he is coaching it. He just makes it a lot easier for you to see where you're supposed to be going with the ball."

Bielema said he was excited to see what all of the backup quarterbacks are capable of over the next few weeks.

"It's an excellent opportunity for us to get a look at everybody. With Scott Tolzien coming in as a freshman, we're not ruling out anybody," Bielema said. "There's a lot of pressure from the outside world looking on them right now and that's a great indication of how they'll respond over the next three weeks."

One thing is for sure, the next few weeks will definitely be interesting.

Badger Nation Top Stories