The Badgers are once again entering the season with questions at the QB position. This decision, however, is a little different. Wisconsin will not have Joel Stave who started at QB for nearly four years. After his mediocre career at Wisconsin, it now raises the question, who will he pass the torch to? Whoever steps in and takes the keys to the Badgers offense, will not change the identity, but a better QB play could take this team over the top.
Now let’s talk about the candidates. The front runner of the group is a fifth year senior Bart Houston. After the backup to Stave stepped in and impressed during this past years win at Illinois, it really is not a question it is his job to lose. During that game, Houston threw for 232 yards two touchdowns with a completion percentage of 66.7 and led the Badgers to victory. Also, last season he made appearances in garbage time of blowouts vs Miami OH and Hawaii. In total, he finished the season with three touchdowns, two interceptions, 281 yards and completed 27 of 47 passes. While those stats are nothing too impressive, they show that he can have success. Houston is your typical pro style Badger QB, stay in the pocket and get the ball out quick. The odds are very much in his favor though being in the system for longer can only help Houston. Also physically being 6”4, 225 lbs. cannot hurt him. The confidence that he carries over as well certainly will help him prepare for the starting job. Houston said, “The Illinois game was big for me in helping me realize I can play at the competitive level.” With all this on Bart Houston’s side I would say the odds for him starting next season are 1 to 3.
The only thing preventing him from running away with the job is Alex Hornibrook. The redshirt Freshman really impressed the coaching staff during this year’s spring practices. During the spring game, Hornibrook showed what he can do best which is get the ball downfield. Hornibrook is a traditional pro style QB, he understands to get the ball to his playmakers. Three of his four completions during the spring game led to plays of at least 35 yards, two led to touchdowns. While there is not really any doubt Alex was better in this year’s spring game, one thing holding him back is experience. Being a redshirt freshman, he has not seen the field at all. The coaches would probably want to see him in real game time action before they declare him the starter, which means the path to the position is much harder for him. Houston physically has an advantage as well being twenty pounds bigger than Hornibrook. There really is no question though that this kid has talent, and Wisconsin could choose him based on the hype he brought this spring. I will put his odds at 13 to 4.
Next in line is Kare Lyles a dual threat freshman. Lyles is very unlikely to be the Badger QB this year, but has an exciting future ahead. Kare physically is not too far behind being 6’1, 215 lbs. The early enrollee missed this year’s spring practices with a left hip injury. This is a setback for Lyles who was expecting to compete this year for the job, for now his odds are set at about 100 to 1.
These Badgers QBs are all chomping at the bit to take the first snap at Lambeau against LSU in September. It seems the decision for Paul Chryst will come closer to the season. Whether it is Hornibrook or Houston the Badgers need to decide who will get this team back to the elite of the Big Ten. Right now the competition is “pretty neck-and-neck” RB Corey Clement said, so all we can do is wait and see. What the Badgers need is improved performance at the QB position, Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook have flashed the potential to possibly elevate the Badgers to accomplish big things this upcoming year.