MADISON, Wis. – After Wisconsin’s starting quarterback Bart Houston struggled to get the offense rolling, head coach Paul Chryst opted to go with redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook for the remainder of the game against Georgia State.
Houston went 10-18 on his passes and managed only 91 yards through two and a half quarters. His last throw in the game was when he badly overthrew Jazz Peavy for what would have been a huge gain for Wisconsin. Houston also over threw open receivers earlier in the game.
“We were just off on some little things,” Chryst said addressing the offensive struggles. “We just weren’t in rhythm.”
Hornibrook would provide that rhythm.
Coming in to breathe new air into an offense that desperately needed to get rolling, Hornibrook brought everyone back into the game. Hornibrook’s first drive ended with on a rushing touchdown after two long passes from the quarterback. One was a 29-yard completion to Peavy and the other was a 19-yard pass to George Rushing. The crowd was back in it, the team looked better and Wisconsin was rolling.
On his ensuing drive though, Hornibrook again looked to connect with Rushing. This time though, Rushing couldn’t handle it, as it went through his hands and Georgia State made the interception.
The biggest play of the day came on Hornibrook’s third drive after an accurate long ball to tight end Kyle Penniston. It would eventually set up the go-ahead score for Wisconsin in which, on a good play call, Hornibrook faked the handoff and threw a one-yard pass to Penniston.
Hornibrook would end the day with 122 yards on 8 completions. The quarterback switch proved to be the decisive move that gave Wisconsin the edge. The accuracy of his deep ball seemed to be the biggest difference between the two quarterbacks.
“I just kind of wanted to get something going…I thought we needed a little spark,” Chryst said about the quarterback switch.
“It would have felt better, but we wouldn’t have won without Alex getting some real time,” Houston said, recognizing that the team needed Hornibrook’s play to get the win against Georgia State.
“I’m not sure. I’m not a big loud mouth guy. I’m just going to go out and try to make plays,” Hornibrook said on the prospect of him possibly starting next week. He also emphasized that he would be prepared for next week’s match up whether he was the starter or not.
Chryst did not officially name a starter after the game saying that for now Houston is the quarterback, but they needed to look at the film and see what happens at practice this week.
“Bart’s our starter right now,” Chryst said. “I’m proud of what Alex did and how he came in. So I’m not planning anything right now other than appreciating this win.”
It will be an interesting week of practice for the Badgers in preparation for Michigan State, that’s for sure.