By TOM LEA
MADISON – Barring any unforeseen injuries the remainder of the week, senior Curt Phillips will be Wisconsin’s starting quarterback at Indiana, multiple sources have confirmed.
One source said Phillips has been receiving the bulk of the reps in practice and that it should ‘be fun to watch’ when the Badgers play the Hoosiers.
Head coach Bret Bielema has declined to publicly announce his starting quarterback this week, but did say he would inform the team on Tuesday.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada, also UW’s quarterbacks coach, met with reporters Tuesday night. He, like Bielema, declined to name the starter, but he did say the decision was made and that it was tough in some regards.
“I think it’s always tough,” Canada said. “It’s tough in the sense of you’re trying to find the right guy to do what he could do best and go through and look at what best fits our team. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, so that part is a challenge.
“But I do think we’ve felt like where we’re at is the right place to be at this moment in time.”
When the quarterback position was up for grabs during August’s fall camp, senior Curt Phillips was hell bent on giving it his all with hopes of earning the starting gig over transfer Danny O’Brien and freshman Joel Stave.
“You’ve got to do the best you can do each day and let it take care of itself,” Phillips said then. “If you’re looking over your shoulder watching how somebody else does…I can’t control how they throw or how they play so I’ve just got to do the best I can do.
“But at the same time I definitely didn’t come back from three ACL surgeries to sit on the bench.”
But it was O’Brien that eventually earned the starting gig, only to be benched in favor of Stave during UW’s week three game against Utah State.
It was also O’Brien that filled in for an injured Joel Stave during Wisconsin’s 16-13 overtime loss to Michigan State Oct. 27. But having failed to move the ball with any consistency, UW amassed just 40 yards of total offense in the second half and overtime, all but one play that came with O’Brien at the helm.
He finished 5-of-11 for 44 yards.
O’Brien has played in six games this season and has passed for 523 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He has completed 60.5 percent of his passes.
Bielema said both quarterbacks would get equal reps throughout the teams bye week and that he would name a starter early this week at the latest.
Speaking at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, Bielema said the offense wouldn’t change regardless of who emerged as the starting quarterback.
He also seemed to give Phillips a vote of confidence.
“I think Curt, just the perseverance and the battle he’s been through to get to where he is today, kids rally around him extremely well,” Bielema said. “He did a lot to get to where he is, and sometimes when you have that in somebody it’s very hard to deny them the opportunity to have success.”
Phillips played quarterback in three snaps during UW’s win over Illinois last month and 10 snaps in mop up time against Minnesota.
Those are his only snaps from scrimmage since playing in UW’s 37-0 win over Purdue in 2009.
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