At any given moment, any given player can go down with an injury, and his backup will be called upon to take his place. This became apparent last Saturday as senior quarterback Brooks Bollinger took one shot too many and had to leave the game with a concussion.
In came junior quarterback Jim Sorgi, filling in admirably. Being a second stringer, he knows that any moment could be his opportunity to shine.
For third- and fourth-string quarterbacks, however, the reality of getting into a game is slim to none. Nevertheless, this does not take away from the significance of their roles on the team.
Third-string quarterback Matt Schabert and fourth-stringer Owen Daniels are dedicated to helping the Badger team of the present, as well as developing for the future teams.
For the sophomore Schabert, being a backup is still relatively new. In high school, he was the star starting quarterback for a coach he highly respected: his dad.
“I got to play for my dad,” Schabert said. “That was an adventure.”
While playing in high school, Schabert got to play a huge role for the offense, on and off the field.
“After a while [my dad] gave me the reigns to the offense,” Schabert said. “I’d go home with my dad [after a game] and draw up some plays on napkins.”
While Schabert and his father are no longer handing over napkins to each other, Schabert admitted he sometimes still lends a play to his old coach.
For Daniels, having to watch the game from the sidelines is not a totally new experience. After an extraordinary junior year, Daniels went into his senior year with a lot of momentum. However, after two huge games, Daniels went down with a year-ending knee injury.
“It was one of the worst experiences of my life,” Daniels said. “Getting a huge opportunity taken away, it was heartbreaking.”
Daniels persevered and bounced back to make it onto the UW squad.
Along with football, Daniels is also a member of the National Honors Society and found that his upbringing has helped him juggle schoolwork and football.
“I was always taught academics first,” Daniels said. “When I was playing sports I focused on that, but when I got home, it was time to hit the books.
Both Schabert and Daniels work extra hard during practice and prepare as if they will be starting the next game.
“You have to take advantage of the few reps that you get,” Schabert said. “Saturday you might not start, but you have to be ready”.
Daniels sees that the backup can easily be thrust into the game.
“Sorgi is one play away from playing,” Daniels said. “And his backup could be two or three plays from getting in.”
Even if the two don’t get into the game, Schabert and Daniels, have a very important role on the sidelines during games. They send information about the play calls or personnel who are on the field. From a spectator’s standpoint, what they do might look like a third base coach giving a signal to his batter.
As goofy as it may look, Schabert takes the important job with complete seriousness. “When you get to put those headphones on, you hear what’s going on, you’re part of the game,” Schabert said. “It feels good to be doing as much as you can to help the team win.”
For now, Schabert and Daniels will have to settle for being low men on the depth chart. Both hope to one day get in and lead the team to victory, but for right now the important part is helping the team from the sideline.
“I just love to make it to a Rose Bowl,” Schabert said. “As a starter or as a backup, it would be a tremendous experience.”