Junior QB Danny O’Brien will start for Wisconsin
Danny O’Brien seems to have a knack for taking care of the ball
and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is rewarding him for it.
Bielema has named the Maryland transfer his starting quarterback
for Wisconsin’s regular-season opener against Northern Iowa on
The coach took to Twitter on Sunday night, saying that the
junior earned the job ahead of senior Curt Phillips and redshirt
freshman Joel Stave.
O’Brien said Monday that he felt confident in his ability to
clinch the spot.
”I think I went into the competition with the mentality that
I’m going to start and just kind of focus on myself,” he said. ”I
didn’t know when the (starter) was going to be named, and I just
wanted to work every day. But I was happy to hear it, but now the
work really starts and we’ve got to move forward.”
O’Brien had two interceptions in a pair of seven-on-seven drills
through three weeks of fall camp. That number, coupled with game
experience in 17 starts at Maryland, pushed Bielema and assistant
coaches in O’Brien’s direction.
”The No. 1 thing probably, by far, (was) turnovers,” Bielema
said. ”A lot of those guys were in double digits with turnovers
with practice. And then I think just the presence he’s shown since
he’s been here.”
O’Brien announced his decision to transfer to Wisconsin in March
and moved to Madison for summer workouts in June. He followed in
the footsteps of Russell Wilson, a North Carolina State transfer
who played last season for the Badgers. Wilson helped lead the team
to an 11-3 record, the Big Ten Conference championship and a Rose
O’Brien, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, seeks to
make an impact of his own.
”To be a part of this team is a privilege in itself, but to be
named starting quarterback here was something I am proud of just
because it’s a lot of hard work,” O’Brien said. ”We have a great
quarterback room. It was a really tough competition, a lot of
talent in that room, which is awesome and something you want. I’m
Bielema has been impressed with O’Brien’s maturity and that he
didn’t try to ”gain all this allegiance with certain player
groups,” in an effort to win the top job.
Bielema also likes the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder’s tenacity and
mobility to make plays in tough situations.
O’Brien made 10 starts his freshman season at Maryland playing
in a pro-style offense. He threw for 2,438 yards, 22 touchdowns and
eight interceptions en route to ACC rookie of the year honors as a
freshman in 2009. In 17 starts with the Terrapins, he threw for
4,086 yards and 29 touchdowns.
”The thing that’s kind of intrigued me … is his ability to
make something happen when nothing is there,” Bielema said. ”He
has the ability to do some things with his feet that I didn’t
really know coming into this that he was as good as he is.”
Besides a desire to take care of the ball, senior running back
Montee Ball said he appreciates O’Brien’s work ethic in the locker
room and on the field.
”One thing about Danny is that he’s learning and willing to
help us win,” Ball said. ”There were three quarterbacks battling
hard, playing hard and contributing.
”Whoever steps up to the plate really deserves it. Danny is
deserving of the job and will do whatever it takes to help us