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Phillips inching ahead in Wisconsin QB race

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

MADISON, Wis. -- Redshirt freshman quarterback Curt Phillips is taking most of the reps with Wisconsin's first-team offense this week, and I can't say that I'm surprised.

After talking with Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst two weeks ago, the signs suggested Phillips had a good chance to overtake senior Dustin Sherer and junior Scott Tolzien. Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema told me this morning that all three quarterbacks have had good moments so far in camp, but the staff made the decision to give Phillips most of the work this week.

"[Phillips] hasn't gotten the reps that those other two guys have gotten," Bielema said, "and we want to see what he can do when he gets a lot of reps and a lot of work and if he can move forward as a football player. If it wasn't warranted, we wouldn't have done it. If he hadn't been performing, if he wasn't giving us reason to believe in something."

Phillips brings excellent athleticism to the quarterback spot and can scramble well if a play breaks down. He helped his cause with a strong effort in Wisconsin's spring game, completing 10 of 16 pass attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns as well as running for a score.

The coaches have liked the carryover to preseason practice. Chryst wanted to have some degree of definition by Week 2 of camp, and Phillips appears to have provided it. Bielema identified Phillips' composure as one of his biggest strengths.

"I don't think much rattles him," Bielema said. "You always hear cornerbacks have to have short-term memories. They get beat on a play and have to bounce right back. Probably the people who need to have the shortest memories of all are quarterbacks. They have to make all the right decisions.

"We're not ready to crown anybody king yet, but the part that we can do is begin to see how we handle situations."

Bielema would like to have a starter in pace 10 days before the opener as Wisconsin begins its scouting report for Northern Illinois. True freshman Jon Budmayr will be redshirted in all likelihood, but both Sherer and Tolzien are still alive in the race.

Sherer started Wisconsin's final seven games last fall, and Tolzien has experience as a reserve and turned in his best practice of camp Monday night.

"Those guys are definitely moving forward," Bielema said, "and that's a good thing."