QB short on vision, not heart

first_imgFacing second-and-seven from the Iowa 36-yard line and trailing 10-7 midway through the third quarter Saturday, Tyler Donovan dropped back to pass.Unable to find an open receiver and trying to buy some more time from the Hawkeye pass rush, the Badgers’ field general rolled out of the pocket to his left. By this time Iowa linebacker Mike Humpal noticed the broken play and closed off the corner where Donovan was determined to run.Rather than throwing the ball away to live another down, UW’s signal caller tried to slip out of a tough situation with his feet. It failed — and he took a big hit as punishment. Worse yet, the Badgers were forced back to the 39-yard line due to the sack, effectively moving them out of field goal range. After a pass downfield to freshman receiver David Gilreath fell incomplete, UW was forced to punt.In an earlier drive, he telegraphed a pass to wide receiver Luke Swan so badly that the two closest receivers to the ball were Hawkeyes. The pass was Donovan’s first interception of the year.These sequences didn’t change the outcome of the game, although the pick resulted in three points for Iowa, but they did offer a look at the man behind Wisconsin’s offense. Donovan is the starting quarterback and a successful one at that, having compiled a 6-0 record as a starter, yet he still makes inexperienced mistakes.Behind Donovan’s noteworthy numbers as a starter — 1,297 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, .622 completion percentage and just 2 interceptions — is a predictable quarterback.If the play is designed to go to Swan, that’s where Donovan will look. There have been times this season when the fifth-year senior has thrown into double or triple coverage because that’s the receiver he’s already decided to pass to.Against The Citadel, he threw such a situation to tight end Travis Beckum as the team was driving. Beckum made a great catch to save what could have been a disastrous outcome for Wisconsin, bailing out his quarterback in the process.At times Donovan has checked down at the line, that much is true, but it isn’t often enough to imply that it comes as second nature to him. Once the ball is snapped, it takes him a long time to see plays develop, hence the frequent scrambling. And his arm accuracy still isn’t there; he has missed open receivers on countless occasions.In back-to-back weeks against UNLV and The Citadel, Swan broke free from the coverage for what would have been easy touchdowns if the ball were thrown with any precision. They weren’t even close, landing about 10 yards in front of the senior wide receiver.He has also missed open teammates because he didn’t see them.When the pocket collapses and forces him to roll out, forget about it — he never looks to throw the ball away if nothing is there, and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll connect with someone downfield (unless the roll-out was designed).Not once this season has Donovan passed up an opportunity to either run with it or chuck the pigskin in a receiver’s direction.While these are some of the things Donovan doesn’t do or struggles with, he does a lot of things well that can’t be taught.Donovan is a gamer. He comes through when it matters most. Moreover, his running abilities add an entirely different dimension to the Wisconsin offense that the team didn’t have with John Stocco at the helm.”Tyler Donovan is a winner,” Bielema said during Saturday’s postgame press conference. “We hold the nation’s longest winning streak for a reason, he’s had great success and understands the flow of the game.”His “perseverance” and willingness to “do whatever it takes” attitude, whether that’s taking an extra hit or laying out to get seven yards when his team needs six on third down to extend a drive, have resulted in a perfect 6-0 record as a starter.Donovan may not possess the best skills at the quarterback position and may still miss a wide-open receiver downfield on occasion, but he has heart, and heart still wins games.Kevin Hagstrom is a senior double majoring in journalism and economics. Comment on his writing or share your thoughts on Donovan by sending an e-mail to [email protected]last_img

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