Wisconsin coach mum on starting QB decision

Wisconsin coach mum on starting QB decision

MADISON, Wis. (AP) Wisconsin will finish the season with a new starting quarterback. Badgers coach Bret Bielema, however, prefers to keep quiet about his choice.

Junior transfer Danny O'Brien and fifth-year senior Curt Phillips are listed as co-starters on the depth chart and split snaps with the No. 1 offense in practice during the bye week. The starter will be under scrutiny as Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) prepares to visit Indiana (4-5, 2-3) on Saturday.

``I know where we're going to go,'' Bielema said Monday during his weekly press conference. ``I will say this: I think Curt and Danny last week knew that everything was being watched and monitored.

``Both of them, Wednesday and Thursday in particular, practiced extremely well. Both of them have their own set of skills but I don't think the offense changes much when they are in there.''

Bielema planned to discuss the quarterback situation with his coaching staff Monday and inform players of the decision Tuesday. He said he won't publicly name a starter. The Badgers are looking to replace redshirt freshman Joel Stave, a six-game starter who broke his left collarbone in the third quarter of Wisconsin's 16-13 overtime loss against Michigan State on Oct. 27.

One thing Bielema did share is that barring injury or a specific play designed for a certain quarterback, he won't play two of them.

``For the most part, I would say one guy in, and you hope he takes the reins and runs,'' Bielema said.

O'Brien earned the starting spot in fall camp ahead of Stave and Phillips and made three starts. Stave replaced O'Brien in the second half of Wisconsin's 16-14 victory over Utah State on Sept. 15 due to a handful of turnovers by O'Brien, and Bielema named Stave the starter going forward.

Bielema said O'Brien has gained a better grasp of ball security and game management. He likes Phillips' mobility and leadership, and noted his story is an intriguing one.

Phillip has undergone surgery three times to repair anterior cruciate ligament injuries to his right knee. He was inserted for three plays in one series during the second quarter of the Badgers' 31-14 win against Illinois on Oct. 6. Prior to that appearance, he had not played in a game since the 2009 regular-season finale.

``The perseverance and the battle he's been through to get to where he is today, kids rally around him extremely well,'' Bielema said. ``He did a lot to get to where he is, and sometimes when you have that in somebody, it's very hard to deny them the opportunity to have success.

``Curt's a runner. He's a guy that can move the football around a little bit with his arm and with his feet.''

Because Penn State and Ohio State were ruled ineligible for postseason competition and the conference title due to NCAA infractions, a Badgers win would clinch first place in the Leaders Division and punch their ticket to the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 1 in Indianapolis.

Wisconsin has won seven straight against Indiana, but Bielema insists the Badgers aren't overlooking the Hoosiers, who have struggled to be competitive during his seven-year tenure.

The Hoosiers, who are two games back of the Badgers in the standings, have won two straight and are fresh off a 24-21 win over Iowa.

The Badgers boast a 17-3 record during November under Bielema, and keeping the one-game-at-a-time philosophy on players' minds is important.

``When I saw this schedule come out two or three years ago, I remember looking at it and taking a rough sketch of it and realize that we have Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State at the end of the year and knew those were going to be games that mattered,'' Bielema said. ``So for us here at Wisconsin, to have a game in November matter really isn't new. From Indiana's point of view, they've earned their right to get there, and obviously they're going to want to try to defend it to the fullest.''

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Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

The Wizards will catch a break on Saturday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in the second game of their regular season, as Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is being held out due to rest.

Leonard, who has been dominant so far for the 2-0 Raptors, is being limited in back-to-backs after he missed 73 games last season due to a quadriceps injury. The Raptors played the night before against the Celtics.

With Leonard out, the Raptors will likely rely on C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby at the small forward position. Shooting guard Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.

Though Leonard and Wright are out of the mix, Toronto still has plenty of talent including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging 21 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds through two games. 

Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer with 15 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. They also acquired Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to a strong start with 12.5 points and five rebounds per game.

Leonard's absence may be noticed more on the defensive end, as he is one of the best in the NBA on the perimeter. That could make things a bit easier for Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

The Wizards and Raptors next play on Nov. 23. That game is in Toronto.



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'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

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