With Bielema stating that tomorrow would begin Washington State preparation for the season opener in 11 days and that he would name a starting quarterback, Donovan has done nothing that would warrant him losing the starting job he entered camp with.
His passes have been crisp, his mobility has been just, his reads have been stellar, his decision making has been above average and his play action plays continually confuse the experienced Wisconsin defense.
Watching Donovan's play action bootleg in first team work Tuesday could convince even his biggest naysayer. With his entire offensive line moving to the right, Donovan faked the handoff to P.J. Hill, only to spin around, switch into overdrive and go 20 yards downfield before there was a Wisconsin defender within an arms length.
"Tyler gives us an option with his legs that can't be ignored," head coach Bret Bielema said. "Tyler's ability as an athlete … presents an option to [do] things with both [his] legs and [his] arms that we couldn't do in years past."
Don't get me wrong, Allan Evridge is no slouch either. He put up solid numbers at Kansas State in only his second year and is, without question, the starter in 2008. The problem with Evridge is the system; a system that is vast, complicated and takes more than a Madden IQ and an itchy trigger finger to master.
"To compare Donovan's experience in [Coach Chryst's offense] to mine is not fair to Tyler," Evridge said during the first week of camp. "I think X's and O's and mentality, as far as on paper, I feel very confident. Now, it's just getting under center, seeing it from that angle and processing it. I'd be hard-pressed to name one route I have thrown more than ten times. When you think about it, it's really pretty low."
For that main reason, Donovan is the clear leader in this two-man race. During Saturday's scrimmage, Donovan was 6-for-8 for 141 yards and two touchdowns during the first segment of the scrimmage. Throughout practice, Donovan has been able to successfully hit every receiver no matter their position on the field. Whether it is Paul Hubbard on a deep route, Garrett Graham in the middle of the field or P.J. Hill in the flat, Donovan has successfully pulled the trigger to each wide out and wound up with a completion.
While still being able to find his receivers, Evridge has become the victim of overthrows, botched snaps and the inability to hit the running back out of the back field. Does that mean he's pressing or doesn't have the ability? No. Does it mean that he's still a rookie to his offense? Yeah. It's a tricky offense to master and Coach Chryst is the master of building an offense and the identity of an offense around a player. With the increased number of bootlegs, options and play action Wisconsin has done thus far during fall camp, it seems the offense is being molded around the fifth-year senior.
"We're going to need to move the ball [and] we're going to need playmakers on offense," Donovan said. "That's going to be key for us. We have to attack
"I'm put in a position that people expect big things out of me," Donovan added. "Having the right mind set and be mentality sharp day in and day out [will be] the key for me."
Oh yeah, that whole Donovan winning two games in crunch time last season bodes well for him too in the eyes of his head coach.
"I think a defining moment in our season a year ago was when John Stocco went down in the Penn State game and Tyler Donovan was able to step in, finish that game, go down to Iowa and win that game," Bielema said at media day. "Not only how Tyler played but how he handled himself from week-to-week showed his level of maturity to me and this program."
Whoever the choice to lead the No.7 Wisconsin Badgers in the home opener against Washington State on September the first, Bielema, his coaching staff and the teammates are looking for one major quality out of the starting QB.
"[He needs to be] a playmaker," said Bielema. "We definitely want [him] to be a guy that can make plays. That's what that position is all about."
With the way these last three weeks have gone, that playmaker's name is Tyler Donovan.