MADISON, Wis. - It seems to be the same story every time fall camp begins around Wisconsin football headquarters. Who will emerge as the starting quarterback after the month long competition? The only differences this season are the names of the quarterbacks in question.
Following Wednesday's practice, the first in shoulder pads, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the frontrunner. The following is a question and answer with Dustin Sherer, a seven-game starter from a season ago.
Talking about the receiving core, this time last year, people didn't know a whole lot about them. Could you just talk about that group and how much better they can make you just having worked with them as much as you have last season and all throughout the summer?
Sherer: They've made huge strides. I think the reason people didn't know as much about them is because we throw the ball to Travis Beckum so much and Garrett Graham. You know, we have a great tight end group, too, but about the receiving core, we have everybody back except one guy (Daven Jones). They're all really good and they all bring their own special thing to the offense. I think that's going to be a real explosive group and when you throw to the tight ends and the running backs that we have, it can be an offense that can put up a lot of points.
You talked about changes to your throwing motion, what have you changed?
Sherer: I can get technical on you but I won't. You know, just shortening it up. That was the biggest thing for me. People say I have a little whip when I throw it. That was something that I've done my entire life. I got by with it in high school, but you've got to be quicker with it in college. It's something that I just tried to tweak, not totally change. Once you get to this age, it's hard to change all at once just over a summer. So just little things, little mechanical things.
Have you noticed a difference?
Sherer: Yeah I have. I think that my release is quicker. I threw the ball better today. I didn't start off that well, but it's something that you have to build on. It's something you have to concentrate on and something you have to do in a game, not just practice.
How do you look at this competition?
Sherer: Like I said, I think I've been through it three times so it's something I'm really used to. It's fine. I think I just got to go out there and do my own thing. It's mine to lose. That's the mentality I have to have. I have to go out there and be a senior and be a leader and just play my game and not worry about that stuff.
Do these quarterbacks tend to bring out the best of Dustin Sherer?
Sherer: You know, I think they do. It gets annoying but its something you just deal with. I think that's part of competitive college football and something that you just deal with. I think being competitive and stuff like that does bring the best out of you and it does bring the best out of me.
How have the first couple days of practice gone for you?
Sherer: It's going pretty well. It's always rough with the offense at first because of getting back into things. You can throw routes 101 all summer and be good at it, but when you put a whole entire route concept together, it's hard to get the timing down. It's gotten better. Today in pads, it kind of slowed down a little bit, but it's something you just got to keep working. Like I said, we've got a lot of veteran wide receivers and veteran tight ends so I think something is going to come together pretty quick.
With the injuries to John Moffitt and Bill Nagy have you noticed a difference there with the younger guys taking their place?
Sherer: Obviously you notice their presence isn't there. You can look at it two ways, yeah it's not good to have them there, but it gives the younger guys a lot of reps. Travis Frederick has done a great job coming in at center, so just giving them reps and letting them get better and letting them go against the No. 1 defense, it's something that is going to help us in the future. So, its something that you have to take with a positive kind of thought and something I think we're running with.
The fact that you have an actual in-game experience more so than some of the guys in the quarterback competition, how much do you think that really factors into your comfort level?
Sherer: I think it brings a lot. Obviously having seven games under you belt is something that you can't really teach. I think, for me, I'm confident about it because I've been in a game situation and played with guys. That's huge. I think that improves your timing and just gives you more confidence.
You mentioned some of the veteran wide receivers, have any of the younger guys, maybe Kraig Appleton, jumped out at you?
Sherer: Yeah, Kraig is a very athletic kid. He's a big body. He's come in and he's learning fast. I think that is huge for us. If he can just keep doing that, that's something that he might be able to go out and do this year. If not, he'll be really good in the future.
You have to be kind of licking your chops with the wide receivers you have?
Sherer: Yeah, it's a great group. It's a veteran group. We didn't lose anybody. In my opinion, I think we have some of the best tight ends in the Big Ten in Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks and Mickey Turner. So, I think it can be an explosive offense, we just have to put it together.
You kind of mentioned it a little bit ago, but when everyone wants to talk about the quarterback battle, does that kind of weigh on you?
Sherer: Like I said, three years, I'm used to it. It's something that kind of happens every year here. It's something that you just got to take and something you just have to deal with. I've dealt with it before and I can do it again.