One of the side effects of University of Wisconsin senior quarterback Curt Phillips’ three ACL surgeries on his right knee is he has had to change his throwing motion.
Phillips admittedly has spent the last two years throwing mostly with his right arm alone and not utilizing his lower body, which generates most of the power.
When Phillips was asked about his arm strength early in preseason camp, he insisted it wouldn’t be a problem.
“The biggest thing, if anything, my arm may be stronger at this point because I’ve had two years to throw without my legs,” he said. “Now, I’ve finally got my legs back. I feel great.”
On Monday, when media were allowed to watch practice for the first time, it looked like the biggest obstacle to Phillips winning the starting job might be his problem getting much zip on his passes.
Phillips was moving around fine, but still was having problem driving off his back leg when he threw.
The top three quarterbacks — Phillips, redshirt freshman Joel Stave and junior Danny O’Brien — split the snaps evenly.
Stave did some good things and had one of the best throws of the practice, a completion of more than 20 yards to tight end Sam Arneson against double coverage. But Stave is still developing and needs to improve in several areas, including getting a quicker release.
That means O’Brien, the transfer from Maryland, looks to be the odds-on favorite, as expected, to win the starting job.
O’Brien didn’t do much to stand out. He showed a strong arm, although most of his completions were short. He seemed comfortable with the offense and knew where to go with the football.
But he also missed a couple throws he should have made. He got great protection on play action and had tight end Brian Wozniak open behind the defense about 20 yards down the field, but sailed the pass over Wozniak’s head.
UW coach Bret Bielema said on Sunday he expected to name the starting quarterback by a week from 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.”
Bielema has been saying this is the best quarterback depth he has had in seven years.
“Really, over the last three or four years, we’ve had a clearly defined one and that was it,” he said. “We really haven’t had the depth we have now, which I think is a good thing.”