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W LUCAS AT LARGE BY MIKE LUCAS // UWBADGERS.COM For QB Phillips, 'Coach' has a nice ring to it isconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig pondered the prospect of quarterback Curt Phillips going into coaching and cracked, "He'd be a great coach, but he's too smart to coach." Phillips laughed over the line, but not over the profession. "Right now, that's my plan," he said. "Early on, I was planning on going to optometry school. But at this point I feel like I've been around it (football) for so long that at least I want to give it a try first." Phillips is hoping to land a job as a graduate assistant next semester. He's not sure where yet. But he knows that coaches have a much greater time commitment than players. "I think it could be a rude awakening," he said. "But I figure if you like it as a GA when you're doing all the extra work, you're definitely going to like when you're actually getting to call the shots." Besides keeping in touch with former UW teammate, Nate Tice, who's a grad assistant at Pittsburgh, he's planning on tapping into another resource, Luke Swan, a GA on the Wisconsin staff. Phillips has seen how demanding the business can be on coaches. "It's hard work," he said. "You can see it on their faces. You know they love it. But at the same time you see how worn out they are." There has been wear and tear on Phillips, too, after six years of college football competition, multiple knee surgeries and a reduced 12 // VARSITY October 3, 2013 playing role in 2013 after starting the last five games in 2012. "It's tough, it's disappointing," admitted Phillips, who has been serving as the backup to Joel Stave. "Once you get a taste of it (starting), it's even harder. I feel like I'm plenty capable of doing it. "But I know Joel is a heckuva player and I'm excited to watch him grow. He has made some great strides and I think he has consistently gotten better. "He seems like he's more comfortable in the pocket. You see the flashes of what he can do in practice and how special he can be. And he's starting to show that in the games, as well." Staying focused is not an issue, but staying sharp with limited practice reps has been challenging for Phillips. It's an occupational hazard for the No. 2 quarterback. Considering the circumstances, Ludwig said, "Curt's phenomenal in the meeting room, on the practice field and on the headsets during the game." His mindset is what you would expect it to be. "Every game," Phillips said, "I go into it saying, 'This is going to be the game and I'm ready (to play).' That's just how you have to approach it." Beyond that, he's functioning as the equivalent of another coach on the sidelines. "He's a very calming effect for Joel and he adds input," Ludwig said. "When Joel gets on the headset to talk with me, Curt is on the headset as well, so we can have a three-way discussion." Ludwig is perched in the press box and he's focusing more on the big picture, breaking down the entire defense and the perimeter of the offense, whereas Phillips is monitoring Stave. "I try to read it as if I was playing from a quarterback's perspective," he said. "That way when Joel comes off, I can say, 'This is what's happening in the pocket, maybe you can step up' or whatever. "I'm just kind of giving him a second opinion." It's hard to imagine anyone handling his status better than Phillips, a consummate team player. It might seem like a broken record because everyone comes away from him saying the same things. "He's handling it unbelievably well," UW head coach Gary Andersen said. "There's no doubt he's a competitor. "He's disappointed, but you wouldn't know it how he carries himself, how he practices." Phillips has enjoyed his working relationship with Ludwig ― "He's an offensive guru and I've tried to absorb as much as possible" ― and Andersen ― "The older guys can definitely appreciate him." What has earned Phillips respect is the way that Andersen has put the players first. "It's something that the guys have really rallied around," Phillips said. "And that's the way I would to do things if I was a head coach." He may get that chance someday.