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October 29, 2012
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave broke his collarbone against Michigan State, and will miss the rest of the season, according to head coach Bret Bielema.
Stave will not have surgery to repair the break, and Bielema said the injury should keep Stave out for eight weeks. If the Badgers make it in to post-season play there's an outside chance Stave could return to practice, but it's unlikely the Badgers would want to rush him back to action this season. Bielema said Stave should be "100 percent ready to go" for spring ball after the season.
"The good news is he's only a freshman, has three years of eligibility remaining with him, and arguably might have been playing his best game against what might have been the best defense we've faced to this point," Bielema said.
Bielema said the team's doctors decided against surgically implanting a plate on to Stave's clavicle. The redshirt freshman has also had two collarbone injuries before Saturday's game, but Bielema said they weren't anything to be concerned about long-term.
"This is a kid that's got a lot of football in front of him," Bielema said. "We wanted to make sure he was as strong as he could be for the future, and they felt that this route was the best."
In the meantime, either Danny O'Brien or Curt Phillips will take Stave's place as the starting quarterback for the rest of the season. O'Brien replaced Stave against Michigan State, but it seems like the Badgers haven't made a final decision on which quarterback will start going forward. O'Brien started for two years at Maryland before transferring to Wisconsin, and Phillips played sparingly behind former quarterback Scott Tolzien in 2009 before tearing his ACL and missing the nest two seasons.
"We'll take this first week and give [O'Brien] and Curt equal reps and see where we're at going into Sunday," Bielema said.
The Badgers might not make a public announcement on which quarterback will start against Indiana in two weeks, but Bielema said his players will know who will be under center early next week.
O'Brien and Phillips have been listed as co-backups on Wisconsin's depth chart for most of the season following Stave's installation as the starter, and it seems like Bielema is intent on giving both quarterbacks a fair shot at winning the job for the rest of the year.
Even with the Badgers' loss to Michigan State, they can still return to Indianapolis as the Leaders division's representative for the Big Ten title game. Stave's injury has thrown a wrench into Wisconsin's season, which appeared to be back on track after a rough start to the year. But Bielema said both Stave and his team will react the right way to the situation and move on to their next game.
"It's a shame, because I think we were on a path that was very, very good," Bielema said.
"But you deal with the cards that you're dealt. It's not what happens in life, it's how you react to what happens. And I think that [Stave] will react in a very positive way."
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.