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Hornibrook outshines Houston in first scrimmage of Badgers camp

All eyes inside Camp Randall Stadium have been on the Wisconsin Badgers backfield as fall camp opened up. With a massive battle between senior Bart Houston and redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook going on at quarterback, it was only natural.

However, as camp opened up there wasn’t a lot to separate the two dueling QB’s thanks to a lack of real game-like football happening in camp. With a lot of fundamental work and individual position work happening as the pads came on, those observing practice haven’t seen much separation happening over the first eight practices of camp.

That may have changed with practice No. 9 on Monday morning though, as the Badgers scrimmaged for the first time. It gave observers the first opportunity to see both quarterbacks in the most game-like atmosphere.

According to those observers of practice it was obvious who had the better day.

It also has been obvious that Hornibrook has possessed the better ability to stretch the field with his deep ball since the spring. That was on display in this scrimmage, as was his moxie. Apparently, facing 4th-and-15 from the 15 yard line, Hornibrook put up a pass in to tight coverage on a Robert Wheelwright flag pattern in to the end zone.

Hornibrook’s pass was spot on, and Wheelwright hauled in the huge reception.

That is hardly a move of a freshman with jitters about performing on a high level and competing for the starting job. Instead, that is a move of someone confident in his abilities and the offense in general.

While a schedule full of top 25 teams to start the year may seem daunting for a redshirt freshman to handle, if he’s handling the pressure of one of the nation’s top defenses for the better part of this decade, perhaps it shows he’s ready for a bigger role than most think.

Naturally, Badger fans will point out that observers also believed that then junior Joel Stave had beat fellow junior Tanner McEvoy for the starting job in 2014 fall camp only to see McEvoy get the start against LSU to open the season.

However, observers were proven right as McEvoy struggled with the pass game and was eventually replaced by Stave who led the Badgers to a Big Ten West division title.

One scrimmage may not be the difference between losing and winning a job like the starting quarterback, but it sure sets a trend of expectations for level of play. Should Hornibrook continue to produce at this type of level in practice this is easily his job to win.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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