Quarterback Mailbag

With Wisconsin football opening up its 2008 fall camp in preparation for the season opener August 30th against Akron, Badger Nation opens up the mailbag an answers the pressing questions involving the Badgers. Today, we answer your quarterback questions.

Who is going to be Wisconsin's starting quarterback in the fall?

BAM! Right off the bat! Instead of this topic being the elephant in the living room that nobody wants to talk about, let's get it out in the open right away.

Last year's backup Allan Evridge was stellar throughout spring practice in running both the pro-style and spread-option offenses. Evridge is a lot like Donovan in the sense that he can hurt opposing defenses with his arm or his feet. But unlike Donovan, Evridge prefers to throw than tuck the ball and run. If you were to compare Evridge's last two spring camps, they are night and day, as the fifth-year senior looked tenfold better in running the offense and having a grasp on the playbook.

After calling in the plays the last two seasons, there is no question that junior Dustin Sherer knows the playbook. Sherer was steady-eddy (as Bielema likes to say) throughout spring, admitting that there was only one practice where he took a step backwards. Sherer's most impressive attribute is his ability to connect on his timing routes. Whether it be an out route or a lob pass over the defense, no quarterback on the roster completed more of those passes than the Indiana junior.

The Badgers have three other QBs on the roster (Scott Tolzien, James Stallons and Curt Phillips) but the battle for the starting position will be between Evridge and Sherer.

At Big Ten Media Day, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema let the cat out of the bag by saying that he intends to follow the same game plan he did last season: naming the fifth-year senior (then Donovan, now Evridge) as the starter going into camp and let the backup (then Evridge, now Sherer) try and take it away from him. Basically, Bielema is saying that the job is Evridge's to lose.

I really can't disagree with Bielema's logic on this one. Evridge has the most game experience out of any of the other quarterbacks, he is the most mobile of the group and he has done nothing that would warrant him from not starting. Sherer is going to be a solid quarterback for UW in the future but unfortunately, he's going to have to wait one more year for his chance.

I've heard a lot about Scott Tolzien and his progression as a Wisconsin quarterback. What have you seen from him over the course of the spring?

Anytime you spend more time in an offense you are going to start to improve, but Scott Tolzien is a special case. Tolzien's performance on the field is what you would expect from a redshirt freshman: improvement with his throws and decision making but still needing to take his game to the next level in order to be strongly considered for the position.

The thing that his teammates and coaches have lauded about Tolzien is his understanding of the game. Nicknamed ‘Niedermeyer' by his fellow quarterbacks after the character in Animal House, Tolzien, according to Sherer, can diagram every offensive play forwards and backwards. Always having the right answers, Tolzien's intelligence has enabled him to understand how a play is going to unfold and what the results should be, a talent that is only going to help him as he continues in his Wisconsin career.

How soon until Curt Phillips becomes Wisconsin's starting single caller?

Without question, Tennessee prep quarterback Curt Phillips has a lot of expectations placed upon his shoulders, as his accolades, stats and accomplishments have been written about. Phillips was able to get a leg up by enrolling in the spring and performing admirably during his first camp, but the thing with Phillips is that he is a freshman in a complicated offensive system; a system that the likes of Stocco, Donovan and Evridge have needed a few seasons to get a grasp of.

There's no question that Phillips has the skills and characteristics to be a multi-year starter for the Wisconsin offense. However, it would be a huge shock if the Tennessee native did not redshirt this season to become more familiar with the Wisconsin offense. One would assume that Sherer would be the starting quarterback for the 2009 season and, should Phillips continued to progress at the rate he is now, could feasibly contend for the starting job as a redshirt sophomore in 2010.

How were the Badgers able to get Jon Budmayr away from the likes of Notre Dame?

One word: loyalty. Wisconsin was the first school to offer Budmayr and, while continuing to recruit him hard, gave him space and patience to go through the recruiting process on his own. While taking other visits and getting courted by other schools, Budmayr kept comparing the school to Wisconsin and, according to him, they never lived up to the program in Madison.

Notre Dame entered the picture late when Charlie Weis offered but Budmayr said that the Fighting Irish simply were like all the other schools that recruited him: they weren't the right fit and Wisconsin, with the academics, atmosphere and football program, was what he was looking for in a college program.

What are the odds that James Stallons transfers from the program?

I haven't heard anything to suggest that Stallons would transfer but, considering the amount of depth ahead of him and the talented newcomers entering the program, I would give if a 30 percent chance. Stallons had a monotone spring but continues to be well liked by his fellow quarterbacks and his position coaches. Of course, if it seems like a lot of players are ahead of Stallons in the pecking order and if he feels that he isn't going to get a shot at Wisconsin, he should pack his bags and relocate.


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