It had been four years since the Badgers had a new quarterback open the season, and all eyes were on fifth year senior Bart Houston as he made his debut against LSU.
Despite being the winningest Badgers quarterback in team history, many were excited to see someone other than Joel Stave lead the Badgers offense. Houston neither underperformed nor overwhelmed the LSU defense, but he did what he was supposed to do—and that was to win.
“[It was] very encouraged and [I’m] not satisfied,” Houston said of his performance on Monday. “I could do a lot better to put this team where we need to be this season.”
Houston’s dissatisfaction may have come from the two interceptions he threw in Saturday’s game, including a costly red zone interception in the first half. Of that interception, Houston simply said he should have thrown the ball away.
Houston did show both his mobility, running for 13 yards, and his ability to make some throws and continue the drive throughout the game, as he went 19 for 31 with 205 yards on Saturday.
“I thought he was himself,” Coach Chryst said on Saturday after the game. “I thought that he competed. I thought that he made some plays. Obviously, a couple plays that we’ve got to learn from and you’d like not to do, but I thought he kept his poise in it and did some good things.”
Both Chryst and Houston stressed the quarterback needed to improve on his situational analysis. Houston also emphasized his need to work on ball security. Houston spoke highly of his work with Chryst following the game and the criticism given to him on his performance.
“We’re expected to do what we have to do,” Houston said. “His [Chryst’s] approach is to make us better and take those learning opportunities where we probably got a minus on the play and make them a plus next time.”
Though Houston has some key things to improve on, what he excelled at on Saturday was his ability to maintain composure through the adversity.
“I love the way he competed and responded when things didn’t go well.” Chryst said on Monday.
“I think he did really well,” wide receiver George Rushing said of Houston’s performance. “He responded. I mean – he threw two picks, never once put his head down, never once got down on himself. He did really well. I think he had an awesome good game.”
Other receivers Houston targeted included Jazz Peavy with two catches for 11 yards and Robert Wheelwright with four catches for 60 yards.
What everyone noticed, however, was the combination of Houston to tight end Troy Fumagalli, who recorded seven catches for 100 yards on Saturday.
“Me and Bart have been working together for a while now,” Fumagalli said. “People don’t see it, but we’ve been working together on the third and the second team in practice growing up. I’ve been getting to know him on a personal level too. Just feeling comfortable around each other, I think that’s the answer [to their chemistry].”
“I know where’s going to be, and I can lean on him more,” Houston said.
“I don’t know what chemistry is between quarterback and receiver, but we’ve got it,” he continued.
Though Houston enjoyed the big upset on Saturday, his and the team’s focus is to improve and focus on Akron this weekend.
“We did enjoy the win,” Houstin said. “We got LSU. We beat them. It’s all Akron now. We can’t be satisfied.”
Photo courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports.