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Badgers prepare for season opener against Utah State

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Something is different about quarterback Alex Hornibrook at No. 9 Wisconsin.

He's a little calmer and more confident in the huddle going into his sophomore season. There are more two-way conversations about what Hornibrook saw on defense compared to his wideouts.

All good signs for the offense in training camp. The key is whether Hornibrook can continue to develop when the Badgers open the season Friday as Utah State visits Camp Randall Stadium.

"His calmness with all of us in the huddle and controlling things, I feel like is the biggest (improvement) for him" senior receiver Jazz Peavy said about Hornibrook's growth since his freshman campaign. That translates into better execution on the field.

"There's no more, 'Oh I didn't know this, I didn't know that,'" Peavy added. "It's being always able to communicate things and telling us what we could have done different, or he asks us 'What did you see?'"

It's not like Hornibrook is starting from scratch, though. The left-hander started all nine Big Ten games last year after taking over as the starter from senior Bart Houston. Hornibrook completed 59 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,262 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.

As the season wore on, coach Paul Chryst gradually gave Houston more series during games. This year, it's just Hornibrook at quarterback.

This is Wisconsin, though, and the Aggies rightfully expect Hornibrook to hand the ball off a lot to his running backs. Chryst hasn't named a starter yet between sophomore Bradrick Shaw, freshman Jonathan Taylor and junior Chris James, a transfer from Pittsburgh.

"They're going to try and 'big boy' you up and down the field, then around the logo they're going to take shots," Utah State safety Dallin Leavitt said. "It's going to be a great opportunity for us to show what we've been working on and show exactly who we are."

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