Bret Bielema, Joel Stave

O’ Brien maintains tenuous hold on Badgers’ starting QB job



A freshman All-American in 2010 under Ralph Friedgen, Danny O’ Brien‘s performance took a precipitous drop in 2011 under Randy Edsall and the quarterback ultimately transferred from Maryland to Wisconsin.

The Badgers were hoping, after losing one-year rental Russell Wilson, they had gotten the ’10 O’ Brien model.  Instead, at least early on, it appears they have gotten the newer, less reliable model.

O’ Brien is ranked just 75th in the country in passing efficiency through three games, with the low point of the start of his Badgers’ career coming in the close shave against Utah State.  An O’ Brien fumble — the QB has turned the ball over three times in a game and a half — helped the Badgers dig a 14-3 first-half hole against the Aggies, and prompted head coach Bret Bielema to yank O’ Brien in favor of backup Joel Stave.  While Stave didn’t even remotely set a fire under the UW passing attack — he completed 2-of-6 passes for 15 yards — he was under center as the Badgers scored two third-quarter touchdowns — one on a punt return — and was able to stave off (see what I did there?) the Aggies the rest of the way for a 16-14 win.

While the coaching staff has yet to publicly name a starter for this weekend’s game against UTEP, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that offensive coordinator Matt Canada‘s “desire to ensure the players aren’t wary of losing their position too quickly suggests Danny O’Brien will retain the No. 1 job for at least another week.”  Canada intimated that he doesn’t want his players in general and O’ Brien specifically to be looking over their shoulders.

“I don’t think that is anything I’ve ever been a part of, and I don’t think that is anything coach (Bielema) has been a part of, having a quick trigger and have guys worry,” Canada said. “If that was the case, it would have happened [in the game against Oregon State]. That’s not how I want a guy to play.”

When an official decision on the starter will be made is unclear.

The drama surrounding the quarterback situation is the latest in what’s been a rough start to the 2012 season for the Badgers.

Following a narrow five-point win over FBS program Northern Iowa in the opener, UW “parted ways” with its offensive line coach.  The following week, the Badgers went out and lost to unranked Oregon State.  The next week saw the Badgers struggle with a member of the WAC.

Montee Ball, a Heisman finalist in 2011 and a preseason favorite for the award entering this year, is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry and scored just two touchdowns.  The past two seasons, the running back averaged more than 6.2 ypc and scored 51 touchdowns on the ground.

Aside from all that, all is well in Madison.

Report: Duke Williams injured Auburn teammate with punch in ‘bar rampage’

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 29:  D'haquille Williams #1 of the Auburn Tigers misses a touchdown catch in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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D’haquille Williams may have some additional explaining to do to NFL personnel if another report is accurate.

Monday night, Auburn announced that the star wide receiver had been dismissed from Gus Malzahn‘s football program.  A day later, reports surfaced that Williams’ dismissal came after he went on a weekend “bar rampage” following one of his friends getting the heave-ho from a local drinking establishment over a dress-code issue. It was alleged that Williams had punched a pair of security guards, a bartender’s assistant and an unnamed patron of the bar.

The unnamed, however, now has a name.

According to the ABC affiliate in Montgomery, Ala., and a citing a source close to the AU program, Tigers center Xavier Dampeer‘s jaw was on the receiving end of one of Williams’ alleged punches. The website wrote that “Dampeer has been treated and released from East Alabama Medical Center, according to a worker at the hospital.”

Malzahn was asked Tuesday if any other Tiger players were involved in the incident. “I’m not going to get into any details,” the coach said according to

No charges have been filed in connection to the incident.

“We cannot file charges until the injured person(s) comes forward,” Auburn police chief Paul Register told the television station. “Unless an officer personally sees a fight, no arrests can be made.”

Illini’s leading rusher, Josh Ferguson, officially ruled out vs. Iowa

Josh Ferguson, Jordan Italiano
Associated Press
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If Illinois is going to improve upon its solid 4-1 start to the 2015 season, it’ll have to do so without a significant cog in its offensive machinery.

On the official injury report release Thursday night, the Illini confirmed that Josh Ferguson has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against No. 22 Iowa.  The decision is not exactly a surprise as Ferguson has been doubtful in the run-up to the road game against the Hawkeyes.

Ferguson sustained an injury to his right shoulder in the first quarter of last Saturday’s last-second win over Nebraska, and has been unable to practice at all this week.

Ferguson’s 381 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 5.4 yards per carry are all tops on the team.  He’s added 12 receptions for 28 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

With Ferguson sidelined, the bulk of the running-game load is expected to shift to Ke’Shawn Vaughn.  Through five games, Vaughn is second on the Illini with 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns.