University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema said he would like to name a starting quarterback 10 days out from the first game against Northern Iowa on Sept. 1, if not sooner.

Based on the first practice open to the media on Monday morning, bet on sooner.

During the team's media day on Sunday, Bielema said the plan was to name the starter by next Wednesday.

"If it happens before that, it'll be just because we feel comfortable," Bielema said. "Not in a big hurry to make that decision."

Still, after watching the first open practice, it will be shocking if transfer Danny O'Brien is not the starter.

As promised, offensive coordinator Matt Canada split up the snaps evenly among O'Brien, senior Curt Phillips and redshirt freshman Joel Stave.

Ordinarily, it would not be wise to make a snap decision, based on one practice. But it's a simple process of elimination.

As impressive as Phillips' return from three ACL surgeries on on his right knee has been, he has lost some zip on his passes. It's not because of his arm, but his legs. Phillips still has a hard time planting his back leg and driving the ball on his throws.

The good news is, he did run around well, with no apparent limp.

Redshirt freshman Joel Stave did some good things at times and remains a nice walk-on prospect. But the chances of him being ready to be the starting quarterback this season for a team with Big Ten Conference title aspirations are slim and none. He must continue developing.

Stave has a bit of a windup in his throwing motion, which is an issue. He also holds onto the ball too long at times and doesn't always look graceful moving around in the pocket. But when the protection is good and he can set up in the pocket, he makes nice throws.

Stave had probably the best throw of the practice, a completion of 20-plus yards to tight end Sam Arneson against double coverage.

But Stave remains a work in progress.

That leaves O'Brien, who was everybody's pick as the likely starter anyway.

I thought O'Brien looked just OK. He has plenty of arm strength. He seemed comfortable in the offense and appeared to know where he was going with the football.

Yet, there were a couple throws I'm sure the coaches wanted to see him make.

One was a third-down sideline pass to A.J. Jordan in which the two were not in sync. It's tough to know who to blame in a situation like that, without talking to the coaches.

The other missed chance was on play action, when O'Brien was given ample time. He had tight end Brian Wozniak open behind the defense, going toward the left sideline, but sailed a pass well over Wozniak's head.

It was only one practice and, as promised, the quarterback competition between the three quarterbacks will likely go on, possibly for several more days.

But the announcement of who the starter will be seems like a foregone conclusion at this point.

 

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