Badgers quarterbacks splitting reps ahead of Michigan State game

MADISON, Wis. -- If Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst has made a final decision on who will start at quarterback for the 11th-ranked Badgers at Michigan State, his players are doing their best to not reveal the pick.

Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook have been splitting reps in practice. The depth chart lists Houston as the starter, but Chryst has said that he will let each quarterback's performance in practice through the week dictate who wins the job.

Unless he's already made up his mind.

"That's what I've heard, yup," Hornibrook said after practice on Tuesday evening when asked if he would start this weekend against the eighth-ranked Spartans .

Or maybe not.

"Coach is getting us both ready to go. If I'm the guy, I'm ready to go. If Bart's the guy, I'm ready for that, too," Hornibrook said when asked to clarify.

Hornibrook was surrounded by reporters, as if facing a huddle. Houston endured similar questioning.

"Both of us are preparing like we're going in to start. That was the same thing the past three weeks," Houston said.

The quarterbacks tried to follow their coach's elusive lead.

"Both have to be ready to play, to be sure. I'm positive of that," Chryst said Monday when asked if Houston was still the starter.

Houston won a competition for the starting job in training camp. The senior started all three games this season, completing 62 percent of his 71 passes for 527 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

He said that he was a little frustrated with the starting job in limbo, but that was "a little selfish of me. It's not who I am. It's whatever I can do to help the team."

Hornibrook has played in two games, completing 76 percent of his 17 passes for 183 yards, with two scores and one interception. He led three second-half scoring drives to help jump-start the offense in last week's 23-17 win over Georgia State.

Houston and Hornibrook split practice reps evenly this week, as Houston said they have done all season.

"You're a play away every game from the other guy being your guy from then on," offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. "We've got to get both guys ready every week ... and I think it's helped both those guys continue to develop, so we're not going to change it."

The Badgers could also be trying to just keep the Spartans guessing about the quarterback situation. Rudolph sounded just as elusive about his injured running backs.

Starter Corey Clement (left ankle), along with backups Taiwan Deal (right leg) and Bradrick Shaw (right shoulder) are each listed as questionable on the injury report.

"All those guys are a little bit here and there right now. So everyone or no one will be ready, I feel pretty good about that," said Rudolph, drawing laughs.