By TOM LEA
MADISON – Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is serious enough about this year’s fall camp quarterback competition that he’s willing to tab highly touted transfer quarterback Danny O’Brien as the No. 4 quarterback on the roster when practice begins Aug. 6.
Speaking on WISC-TV’s ‘Sidelines’ program Thursday morning, Bielema explained why he is making such a move, just days after he said he expects a legitimate quarterback competition at the annual Big Ten media days.
“We’re a big believer in that you stay with where you were at in the spring,” Bielema said. “So (Joel) Stave will be our starter that first day.”
Bielema went on to say both Curt Phillips and Joe Brennan would be next in line, followed by O’Brien.
“O’Brien will be at the bottom of those four,” Bielema said. “You kind of see those first couple days where guys are at. I’m excited for Curt because he’s been so positive, but he hasn’t had anybody around him or played in traffic the past two years. It’s going to be an interesting thing to see how he comes along.”
Phillips hasn’t played in a live game in two seasons. He suffered three ACL injuries in the span of 13 months starting in April of 2010. Bielema said one of the biggest obstacles Phillips will need to overcome is the mental aspect of playing when defenders are trying to take him down.
“Anytime you have somebody coming in your face or guys coming off the edges you have to make a quick adjustment not only with your physical presence, but mentally,” Bielema explained. “Seeing that for the first time when you haven’t seen it for two years is a big deal.”
Stave, a walk-on, ended the 2012 UW spring game 14-of-25 for 135 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He started the game with the No. 1 offense.
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