Defense dominates TD-free Wisconsin spring game
MADISON In its bid to find a replacement for Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin has discovered one quarterback who can play the piano.
It remains to be seen whether the Badgers have anybody who can hit the right notes on the field come fall.
Prospective starters Jon Budmayr and Joe Brennan both struggled under center for the Badgers, whose offense failed to score a touchdown as the defense dominated Saturday's spring game at Camp Randall Stadium.
Although nobody on offense truly stood out Saturday, freshman Joel Stave appeared to be the sharpest quarterback of the bunch. Stave isn't shy about being in the spotlight, as he proved with a recent piano solo in front of the entire team at a dinner with UW chancellor Biddy Martin.
Coach Bret Bielema said Saturday's game didn't mean "a lick" in predicting the Badgers' chances to put up the monster offensive numbers they did during last season's run to the Rose Bowl. But Bielema did acknowledge he needed to see more from his quarterbacks.
"The three guys that got the majority of the reps today aren't anywhere where we need them to be for us to be a competitive team in the fall," Bielema said. "So they need to continue to move forward."
Bielema also delivered discouraging news about another Badgers quarterback. Curt Phillips has had a setback in his recovery from a knee injury and will miss the upcoming season.
Bielema said Phillips had surgery Friday and would need an additional procedure after the current school year was over.
"It kind of was reassuring to him, because I think he didn't feel overall that the knee was right, where it was at," Bielema said. "It kind of gives him some answers for him to move forward."
Bielema said Phillips may petition the NCAA for additional eligibility.
The White team of defensive players was credited with a 29-27 victory over the Cardinal team of offensive players Saturday, under a scoring system that spotted points to the defense and included uncontested field goal attempts.
"Everyone wants to defend their pride," defensive lineman David Gilbert said. "(The) offense wants to show it can score, defense wants to show we can stop the score. I had a lot of pride out there. It showed."
Budmayr was 10 of 23 for 113 yards with an interception.
"It's been a good spring, but we're nowhere near where we need to be, and we can't be satisfied with what we have right now," Budmayr said. "We've got to get better."
Brennan was 3 of 17 for 42 yards with one interception, and Stave was 8 of 15 for 77 yards and an interception.
While Stave is young, Bielema praised his poise — especially after he played and sang Billy Joel's "Piano Man" at a recent team dinner with the chancellor, who asked if anybody in the room knew how to play piano.
"Then he just keeps playing," Bielema said. "He's like, 'Any requests?' I'm like, who is this kid?'"
Now that he has proved his prowess at the piano, Stave is eager to learn the nuances of playing quarterback in the Big Ten.
"I come in, try to get better every day," Stave said. "Have fun, make friends and move forward, I guess."
The defense also generally bottled up the Badgers' running game. James White had eight carries for 47 yards.
Brad Nortman was the busiest player on the field, punting 12 times. Bielema eventually gave him a rest, allowing linebacker Chris Borland to have a chance to punt late in the game.