Change needed at QB position

first_imgAllan Evridge. That’s probably all that needs to be said. The mere mention of UW’s backup quarterback should be enough to reveal the entire point of the column. The name has probably been bouncing in your head for a while, since Saturday maybe? Since the loss to Illinois? From the start of the season? Doesn’t matter. The point is you’ve thought about it, thought about benching incumbent quarterback Tyler Donovan and going to the junior transfer, Allan Evridge. You know what’s coming then. Allow me to write it anyway.After consecutive losses that have dropped the Badgers from No. 5 in the polls and atop the Big Ten to an unranked spot and in the middle of the conference, it’s easy to call for the era of Donovan behind center to end. Wisconsin’s two losses were marked by Donovan throwing key interceptions in critical situations, and in the team’s five wins to open the season Donovan never looked too impressive. With the offense struggling to score points consistently, bringing in a new quarterback is the most obvious of the remedies.In fairness to Donovan, he was put in a difficult position from the get-go. Expectations were high — probably too high — heading into the season and things didn’t get easier once it started. Running back P.J. Hill, expected to significantly lighten the load for Donovan, has underperformed, which along with the defense’s ineptitude has put a lot of pressure on the signal-caller to put up points through the air. That, coupled with the injuries to starting receivers Paul Hubbard and Luke Swan, has meant Donovan has been asked to do a whole lot more than a first-year starter should have been. Now, though, after two losses and games against top-ranked Ohio State and Michigan still to come, it’s time to start thinking about the future. Donovan’s a senior and won’t be back next season. Any hopes of a Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, or even Capital One Bowl appearance this season seem dashed, which means the focus now has to be on next year. Evridge, barring a dramatic occurrence, will be the starting quarterback a year from now and it would be advantageous if he got playing time now so the learning curve for next year is reduced. Letting Donovan finish out the year may help the Badgers win an extra game in this already tainted season, but throwing Evridge into the fire would pay off for the yet-to-be-beaten 2008 squad.Inevitably, those calling for Evridge to usurp Donovan elicit one of two reactions. The first: that Tyler Donovan is taking too much criticism. The second: that he isn’t taking enough.Donovan, obviously, hasn’t been all-bad for the Badgers this season. He’s taken a lot of hits, made some big plays and has always given his best out there. You can’t ask for anything more than that from your quarterback. The defense’s inability to make tackles and their willingness to give up big plays has certainly been as much, if not more, a cause of the Badgers’ struggles this season. At this point, though, starting him over Evridge just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps Donovan’s biggest advantage over Evridge — experience in the system — has turned into his greatest liability. So comfortable has Donovan become with tight end Travis Beckum, and the injured Swan, that he tends to lock onto the receiver, refusing to look somewhere else regardless of the coverage he faces, which has often led to interceptions. Evridge, without a rapport with the receivers, is less likely to succumb to this problem.Not being harsh enough? Well, as stated before, Donovan has given it all for UW this season and you can’t fault a guy too much when he is doing the best that he can. Plus, at least it’s only the quarterback drawing the criticism in this column. If the disappointment that Badger fans are experiencing now was taking place in the Southeastern Conference, everyone with any relationship to the team — from the most loyal of fans to the objective media — wouldn’t just be calling for the quarterback’s head, but for the coach’s. Bielema’s lucky that it isn’t him being singled out for replacement.Validity of criticisms aside, this weekend is the perfect time to make the switch to Evridge. Northern Illinois comes to town, giving the junior a chance to wet his feet against a (relatively) weak opponent before the Badgers make the trek to current No. 1 Ohio State in two weeks. Eventually, Evridge is going to be the starting quarterback for the University of Wisconsin, and with this season already established as a disappointment, now’s as good a time as any to give him a chance.Mike Ackerstein is a sophomore majoring in poultry science. If you agree its time to make a quarterback switch but think Dustin Sherer is the right choice, he can be reached at [email protected]last_img

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