University of Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema said he spoke to sophomore quarterback Joe Brennan on Friday night, and the two expect to speak again Sunday.
It’s not hard to gather that Brennan is unhappy. He has dropped to fourth on the depth chart after being the backup last season to Russell Wilson.
Bielema also hinted Brennan might be thinking about leaving. The coaches have a personnel meeting Sunday, and Bielema said players will have a clearer picture of their roles after that.
"There are guys on our roster, if they’re not where they want to be, I’m sure some decisions will have to be made," Bielema said, when talking about Brennan.
Brennan and redshirt freshman Joel Stave got most of the work in the spring, with Stave coming out on top the final two weeks. Since then, Brennan has also fallen behind junior transfer Danny O’Brien and senior Curt Phillips.
On top of that, the coaches have raved about true freshman walk-on Chase Knox (6-foot-1, 191 pounds), who is from San Diego. Bielema said a couple NFL quarterbacks called the UW coaches on Knox’s behalf, apparently including Jeff Garcia, who played for the San Francisco 49ers.
"We were in a panic mode to find some guys," Bielema said of adding Knox. "He kind of had a couple VIPs call in on his behalf. ... I don’t know what the connection was."
Bielema told a story of Knox kicking offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada out of a huddle because he wanted to get the signal himself from the sideline. Although it has been less than a week, Bielema even brought up former UW quarterback Brooks Bollinger as a comparison.
"He’s just one of those kids, he kind of reminds you of Brooks Bollinger," Bielema said. "Now, don’t go there with it. He’s just got that little vibe to him."
Biegel makes early rise
The Badgers appear to have an emerging pass-rush option in freshman linebacker Vince Biegel (6-3, 225) from Wisconsin Rapids.
Bielema said at the Big Ten Conference’s Media Days that Biegel was a more dominant pass rusher as a high school player in UW’s summer camp than linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor.
"He’s long, he’s explosive, he’s hyper," Bielema said.
That has shown in preseason camp.
Biegel practices so hard he is already getting under the skin of offensive players. Bielema said he watched a one-on-one drill pitting the running backs against Biegel.
"You can ask James White ... how hard he is to block, because James was struggling with that one," Bielema said.
UW almost lost out on freshman walk-on Joe Schobert (6-2, 210), a Waukesha West product who was set to walk on at North Dakota before a late offer from the Badgers.
Now, when Bielema talks about freshmen who have a chance to contribute right away, Schobert is one of the names mentioned.
He started out at wide receiver for three days, then moved to safety. But it’s on the kickoff coverage and kickoff return units where Schobert’s speed, instincts and fundamentals have really shown up.
"There are just kids that naturally understand playing square, feet underneath you, good base," Bielema said.
A couple high school coaches in the state reached out to UW on Schobert’s behalf after an his impressive performance in the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association all-star game for big schools in July.
"Really the last two weeks (before camp), we recruited Joe pretty hard," Bielema said. "I think it’s going to pay off big."
UW had a switch of sophomore linebackers on the camp roster after walk-on Ben Ruechel suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Cody Byers.