Florida State head coach Willie Taggart said he had a plan to address the obvious need for a quarterback last month. A transfer option appeared to be the most logical solution to pad the depth at the position for the upcoming season, and now that transfer option has joined the program. Alex Hornibrook, a former starter at Wisconsin, has announced he is heading to Florida State to finish off his college football career.
The addition of Hornibrook gives Florida State an experienced starter to throw into the mix as a potential starter for the Seminoles this fall. In his last three seasons at Wisconsin, Hornibrook has played in 35 games and thrown for 5,438 yards with 47 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He has certainly had his highs and lows in a Wisconsin uniform, but there is something to be said about having the experience to fall back on.
Hornibrook is likely heading to Florida State expecting to start. Most fifth-year seniors don’t transfer without that expectation. Florida State’s quarterback situation is one of the bigger storylines for the program this offseason given the current state of the position. For the second straight recruiting cycle, Florida State did not sign a quarterback on signing day. The dismissal of Deondre Francois and the loss of a high-profile target to Maryland really hurt the depth. Justin Blackman returns, of course, and may be the biggest obstacle standing in Hornibrook’s way this fall.
After signing day, Taggart was secretive about his plans to address the concerns at quarterback. Whether Hornibrook was his primary goal will likely remain unknown, but Taggart at least got someone who has been a regular starter.
Forget about any questions about whether or not health issues will interfere with Alex Hornibrook at Wisconsin. Hornibrook is reportedly considering a transfer and has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.
“Alex informed us of his decision to leave the team earlier today,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said in a released statement. “He contributed to a lot of our recent success and we want to thank him for all he did for our program. We wish him the best of luck.”
Hornibrook released a statement of his own through his Instagram account.
Hornibrook will be a graduate transfer, which will make him eligible to play right away for any other FBS program this fall. He has one final year of eligibility at his disposal. In 35 career games played at Wisconsin, Hornibrook has passed for 5,438 yards and 47 touchdowns with 33 interceptions. Concussion concerns late last season took him out of action for a few games down the stretch of the regular season, although he did return for the regular season finale against Minnesota. He did not play for the Badgers in the Pinstripe Bowl against Miami, a year after thriving against the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl.
Hornibrook did return to participate in offseason winter workouts with the program last month, which was an encouraging sign. But now he will likely be on the move. Entering a name in the transfer portal does not require a player to leave his current school, so a return to Wisconsin is still entirely possible. This just allows Hornibrook to evaluate and be in contact with other programs as he decides what to do next.
If Hornibrook does leave Madison, the Badgers may simply put incoming four-star freshman Graham Mertz into a starting role. Mertz enrolled early in Madison, which makes him eligible to participate in spring practices for the Badgers. If Mertz doesn’t impress enough to get the starting job in the fall and needs a little more time to be prepared for the job, then Wisconsin still has Jack Coan to rely on. Coan served as Wisconsin’s backup quarterback last season and he started in place of the injured Hornibrook when needed.
Wisconsin is still in the running for the Big Ten West Division crown as they prepare for a road trip to Penn State this weekend. With the Badgers in need of a win, it remains unknown if starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook will be available.
Wisconsin’s injury report at the beginning of the week listed Hornibrook as questionable for this weekend’s road game against the Nittany Lions. Hornibrook returned to the starting lineup this past weekend at home against Rutgers after sitting out a game two weeks ago against Northwestern due to not passing the concussion protocol. Hornibrook left Saturday’s win against Rutgers with a head injury concern.
If Hornibrook is unable to play for Wisconsin, the Badgers will once again put the ball in the hands of Jack Coan. Coan, a sophomore, completed 20 of 31 pass attempts for 158 yards and a touchdown in a 31-17 loss to Northwestern, and he filled in for the injured Hornibrook on Saturday against Rutgers by completing five of seven attempts for 64 yards and a touchdown.
With Coan at quarterback, Wisconsin should be expected to stick to their running game with perhaps a little more emphasis on the ground with Jonathan Taylor against a Penn State defense that will be looking to bounce back after giving up 35 points to Michigan in a 42-7 loss in Ann Arbor. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has also been playing a little banged up in recent weeks as well, although there has been no indication his status will be adjusted this week against the Badgers.
Wisconsin trails Northwestern by one game in the Big Ten West Division standings and would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Wildcats. In order for Wisconsin to return to the Big Ten Championship Game for a third consecutive season, Wisconsin will have to finish ahead of Northwestern in the division standings. A loss at Penn State would severely hurt Wisconsin’s chances given Northwestern’s remaining schedule (at Iowa, at Minnesota, home vs. Illinois). The Badgers have a road game at Purdue after their road trip to Penn State and then a home game to close out the regular season against rival Minnesota.
Following a 31-17 victory at home over Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten), Northwestern (5-3, 5-1 Big Ten) will turn the calendars to the final month of the regular season with a chance to win the Big Ten West Division for the first time. The division is now officially in their control with just three Big Ten games remaining on the schedule.
Clayton Thorson struggled in the passing game at times but managed to do enough damage on the ground with two rushing touchdowns and a 27-yard run to help set up a score in the third quarter as he escaped from under pressure closing in on him to take advantage of a wide open right side of the field. It was the kind of gritty performance that bodes well for Northwestern, especially against a Wisconsin team playing without starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook and on a day where the fumble issues of Jonathan Taylor led to some self-inflicted wounds for the Badgers.
With Hornibrook out of the game due to not being medically cleared out of concussion protocol, Jack Coan made his first career start for the Badgers and was rarely asked to make too much happen through the air. Wisconsin relied on their running game with Taylor, Garrett Groshek and Alec Ingold leading the attack. But northwestern’s defense was ready for the challenge and played well at home to preventing Wisconsin from gaining an edge. If anything, Northwestern’s own running game leveled the playing field with Isaiah Bowser continuing to fuel the Wildcat’ running game, with Thorson complimenting the effort.
Northwestern took a 24-10 lead into the fourth quarter and essentially put the finishing touch on the win shortly after Coan fumbled the football deep in the Wisconsin end early in the fourth quarter. The fumble recovery by Northwestern, the third of the day, was followed by a touchdown run by Bowser to build a 21-point lead.
The win moves Northwestern to 5-1 in the Big Ten West, which now includes head-to-head wins against Purdue and Wisconsin. Having played one more conference game than the rest of the division, the Wildcats will own no less than a half-game lead in the division after all games have been played on Saturday (Purdue was playing at Michigan State at the same time and Iowa was kicking off against Penn State later in the afternoon). Northwestern will host Notre Dame next week (looking to play spoiler against the Irish?) but the next Big Ten test for the Wildcats will come in two weeks on the road at Iowa. That game should be of much significance, as a win could potentially put Northwestern one giant step closer to playing in the Big Ten championship game at the end of the season. Northwestern has the road game at Iowa and then a road trip to Minnesota and a home game against Illinois to wrap up the regular season and the Big Ten schedule. It may all come down to what happens in that Iowa game for Northwestern.
Wisconsin, the runaway favorite in the Big Ten West and picked to win the Big Ten and play in the playoff by some in the preseason, now needs a good amount of help if the Badgers are going to make a third straight trip to the Big Ten championship game. At 3-2 in the Big Ten, Wisconsin will look for a rebound win next week at home against Rutgers before two straight road games at Penn State and Purdue. But Wisconsin now needs to finish ahead of Northwestern in the standings to avoid losing out on a head-to-head tiebreaker. That may be wishful thinking at this point.
With first place in the Big Ten West Division on the line, Northwestern holds the upper hand at halftime in Evanston with a 14-10 lead on Wisconsin. Clayton Thorson has run for a pair of touchdowns as the Wildcats look to pick up a big win in division play this afternoon.
Wisconsin started Jack Coan at quarterback with Alex Hornibrook not medically cleared from concussion protocol. With a backup making his first career start, it was no surprise Wisconsin would look to rely on the running game in the first half. Coan attempted just three passes, but he did complete all three of them for 13 yards. On the ground, Jonathan Taylor led the running game and fullback Alec Ingold scored Wisconsin’s touchdown shortly after an interception by the Badgers defense gave the offense a short field.
After the Badgers capitalized on an interception thrown by Thorson, Thorson and the Wildcats responded on the ensuing possession with a 15-play drive covering 75 yards for a game-tying touchdown. Thorson pushed the ball just across the goal line to cap the drive. Northwestern made another trip down to the goal line in the second quarter, but this time Wisconsin came up with a goal-line stand on fourth down to keep Thorson out of the end zone.
Taylor fumbled the football at the Wisconsin 15-yard line just moments later, which gave the Wildcats a short field and allowed the home team to take the lead for the first time. Neither team should be expected to open things up offensively so there will be a ton of grinding in the second half to come as this game comes to a close.