A quarterback of any offensive unit is most times, for better or for worse, the driving force behind that offense.
One of the most important parts of being a quarterback, however, is trusting what you are seeing in front of you.
“I think the biggest part of quarterbacking is that you’ve got to trust what you see, and then you’ve got to pull the trigger and make it happen,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said.
Wisconsin quarterback, sophomore Alex Hornibrook has played well at times this season showing flashes of being a great passer. At other times Hornibrook has looked rattled and containable from a defensive standpoint.
Every time he has regressed and thrown interceptions or looked ineffective, Hornibroook has been able to bounce back showing more flashes of what might be to come in the young quarterback’s career.
But as Chryst said, trusting what you see in front of you is one of the most important aspects of being a quarterback.
With wideouts Quintez Cephus, Danny Davis, A.J. Taylor, Jazz Peavy and tight end Troy Fumagalli all out there in front of him it is hard to imagine he does not like what he sees.
Sophomores Cephus and Taylor have both come onto the scene as effective receivers this season. Cephus leads the team with 301 receiving yards on the season and four touchdowns.
Their athletic frames make it easier for Hornibrook to trust hucking the ball down field. Cephus sits at 6’1″ and 205 lbs and Taylor is just a tad shorter at 5’11” and 202 lbs. Both can run past defenders and both can go up and compete for any ball thrown downfield.
“I feel like it’s really working out. You can see in the packages we’re running they’re starting to trust the receivers more and put more on our plate and then we can do more,” Taylor said.
One player Hornibrook and the coaching staff has seemingly trusted since stepping foot on campus has been freshman receiver Danny Davis.
Hornibrook has continually targeted Davis for huge plays down field since the first game. So far, Davis is making plays. He is averaging 25.33 yards per catch to lead the team (the next closest player is about 10 yards away) and has also reached the endzone once in his short career.
“Yeah I’ve just always done that. That’s just something that I’ve done since high school. I love the 50/50 ball. I just go up their and try to focus on the ball,” Davis said about his big play potential. “You know, go and get it, attack the ball, squeeze it because they’ll be ripping at the ball. You know that’s all you can do is go up there and attack it.”
Peavy, who was last years best receiver, has seemingly been left out of the offense. The senior still starts and is on the field for most of the offensive snaps, but with Wisconsin’s offense slowly shifting towards big, chunk plays, Peavy has been left out.
In 2016, Peavy averaged 14.8 yards per catch on his way to 635 total yards and five receiving touchdowns. Most of his damage was done when taking quick slant or out routes for bigger yards after the catch.
This year however, the deep ball and receivers who can go up and get it are reigning supreme.
Although they are already gaining the trust of coaches and teammates alike, this group knows they are merely scratching the surface.
“As a group, I’d say the biggest thing is details. Between the younger guys and the older guys there’s just a lot of little things we can detail up,” Taylor said.
One of the smaller details they have already cleaned up is securing the catch. Earlier in the season against Utah State and FAU the receiving corps was plagued by dropped passes.
The impressive stats put up by this group could be even better, and they know it.
“We’re starting to get it together and you can see the group starting to come together,” Taylor said.