Tag:Scott Tolzien
Posted on: June 27, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 2:50 pm
 

Roundtable: Russell Wilson impact

By Eye on College Football Bloggers

Occasionally the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron- style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:

So Russell Wilson is transferring to Wisconsin. What does his decision mean for the Badgers? For the Big Ten race? For the Auburn team he spurned? Could it have an impact on the national title picture?

Tom Fornelli: I think it puts Wisconsin right there with Nebraska in the role of Big Ten favorite, and considering the uncertainty surrounding T-Magic in Lincoln and the quarterback position there, Wisconsin may in fact be the favorite. We already know they can run the ball, and now they added a new dynamic to the offense they've never had before.

Adam Jacobi: I'd like to caution everyone from going overboard here. This will be Wilson's first year in the Wisconsin offense, and while Paul Chryst (pictured bottom right) is a solid enough coordinator to craft his offense around its strengths year to year, there's just naturally going to be an adjustment period.

Further, at what point, has Russell Wilson ever been a great quarterback? Sure, he threw the ball a lot at N.C. State, but he wasn't great at it; his passing efficiency last season ranked 62nd in the nation, right above Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz (who looked promising last year, sure, but no one's arguing he's "there" yet).

I'm willing to grant that Wilson is an upgrade over Wisconsin's returning quarterbacks, and that he makes the Badgers better than they were before. I just don't think setting high expectations on Wilson has ever been a recipe for success beyond eight or nine wins.

Chip Patterson: When Wilson exploded on the scene as a freshman in 2007, it was his playmaking ability and natural athleticism that caught his opponents off-guard and led to Wilson being named the ACC Rookie of the Year. But in 2010, it was a change in his game that helped the Wolfpack finish with their first nine-win season since 2002. Instead of scrambling to the sidelines, Wilson improved his pocket presence. He started stepping up in the pocket and hurting teams with his legs up the middle. Wisconsin doesn't need a dual-threat quarterback; it needs a competent one who will take what the defense gives the Badgers.

As Adam said, Wilson is not the most efficient passer. He also benefited last season from having a receiving corps made up mostly of tall pass catchers who could "go up and get it" when Wilson got in trouble (T.J. Graham was the only receiver on the two-deep last season under 6-foot-3). But there will be many upgrades that Wilson will get offensively in the move to Madison, most notably the availability of a dominant run game. Since his arrival at N.C. State, the Wolfpack have ranked in the bottom half of the ACC in rushing offense every single season. In 2010 Wisconsin's rushing offense ranked 12th nationally.

Wilson's addition answers perhaps the biggest question mark in Wisconsin's 2011 outlook. But his arrival also brings about new concerns, such as how his late addition might affect team chemistry or how quickly he can adjust to Paul Chryst's offense. The Badgers now become a favorite for the Leaders division, but there are still plenty of adjustments to be made before penciling them in for a return to Pasadena.

Jerry Hinnen: Well, no, it's too early to project the Badgers for a return trip to the Rose Bowl. But as I think Wilson's arrival puts Wisconsin firmly in that mix, I don't think we should undersell the importance of this decision, either. I don't know about "great" (to respond to Adam's question), and yes, he took a step back last year even as his team was taking a step forward. But in 2008 and 2009 Wilson was pretty damn good all the same: a combined touchdown-to-interception ratio of 48 to 12, a healthy 7.6 yards-per-attempt in that span, 640-plus rushing yards for good measure, All-ACC honors.

Much of Wilson's decline in efficiency can be attributed to N.C. State asking him to do too much, something we all know Wisconsin is most assuredly not going to do. The Badgers have already made the likes of Scott Tolzien and John Stocco into hyper-efficient stars, something Wilson's already proved himself more than capable of being with the Wolfpack. With the assets surrounding Wilson in Madison and the entire summer to bone up on Chryst's playbook now that he's already left his minor league baseball team, the Badger offense could be nearly as dynamic as it was in 2010.

And look at the Wisconsin schedule: no true road games until back-to-back dates at Michigan State and Ohio State in late October, and key dates with Nebraska and Penn State at home. If the Badgers can get past the Huskers and split the two October roadies, 11-1 and a second-straight BCS berth is right back in play. That's just not the case with Jon Budmayr under center, so, yeah, I think we're talking about a potentially major, national-sized impact -- maybe not crystal football major, but the next best thing.

(And as for the team on the other side of it, yes, Auburn could have used a player of Wilson's physical gifts during what looks like a rebuilding year. But as long as the Tigers have got Gus Malzahn (and two quarterbacks in Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley in their third year of his system to boot), there's only so far their quarterback play can slip; Wilson or no Wilson, they'll have bigger questions to answer than who's under center.)

Bryan Fischer: Going off what Chip said, Wilson's numbers are not the most efficient ones out there. He had to throw the ball 527 times last year, thanks in part to an inconsistent run game that had a few young running backs who tended to have trouble holding onto the ball. Toss in some wideouts that struggled and you get part of the reason he managed to only complete 58 percent of his passes last year. Still, you saw flashes of why he can be a threat with his arm and legs regardless of what talent is around him.

I still think it will take Wilson awhile to get adjusted to 1, playing football again after playing minor league baseball; and 2, Wisconsin's offense. With a big offensive line and very good running game, the Badgers won't need him to make plays right away but rather just be consistent with his play. He does hold the NCAA record for most pass attempts without an interception, and if he can take that part of his game to Camp Randall, I don't see why the Badgers won't be thinking about the Big Ten title game. I'm not ready to anoint them with Wilson coming in, but they certainly have a lot going for them now with an experienced signal-caller.


Posted on: June 9, 2011 9:11 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 9:12 am
 

Report: Russell Wilson favoring Wisconsin

Posted by Chip Patterson

During his off-time with the Asheville Tourists, former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson has been exploring the possibilities of being a starting quarterback at a BCS school this fall. After head coach Tom O'Brien stuck by junior Mike Glennon as his starter, Wilson was granted a release and has been visiting schools to discuss using his last year of eligibility in the 2011 season. Wilson drew a lot of attention with his first visit to Auburn, but it was this week's trip to Wisconsin that has caused quite a stir in Madison.

"It was a home run - a grand slam in baseball terms," a Wisconsin source told Madison.com. "He definitely liked Madison better than Auburn."

According to the report, Wilson arrived on campus Tuesday and wrapped up his visit Wednesday afternoon. He spent a significant amount of time with offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, learning about the team's personnel and offensive system. For the Badgers, who are still lacking a true starting quarterback, Wilson's arrival could be the final piece to making a return to the Rose Bowl this season.

The Colorado Rockies organization has acknowledged Wilson's visits, but maintains their stance that they expect Wilson to complete his season with Tourists - which runs until at least Sept. 5. The Badgers will kick off fall camp Aug. 4 and open the regular season against UNLV Sept. 1. If Wilson does leave the Rockies' farm system early to return to college football, he will likely have to repay the signing bonus he received as a fourth round pick in the MLB draft. That number has been reported to be as high as $250,000.

Some have argued that Wilson might not make a good fit in Wisconsin's hard-nosed offense. The athletic playmaker who has made a habit of extending plays with his feet does not look very similar to last year's starter Scott Tolzien. Tolzien was the perfect game manager, completing 72.9 percent of his passes. But Wilson is a smart quarterback, more than capable of adjusting his game to fit Wisconsin's system. Now whether Wilson, who has been considered soft-spoken at times, can come in and lead the Badgers to a Big Ten Championship will depend on his relationship with the team. But it easy to see why Wisconsin is interested in adding the all-conference quarterback to their roster in 2011.
Posted on: January 1, 2011 8:48 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Rose Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TCU says "Hello, BCS!" and beats Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl to finish season 13-0

TCU


Offense: It wasn't a great game by the TCU offense in this one, as while the Horned Frogs came out blazing in the first quarter and scored touchdowns on their first two drives, they only managed 7 points over the final 45 minutes.  Still, the Frogs got as many points as they needed, and didn't turn the ball over, using field position to their advantage throughout the second half.

Andy Dalton was on fire out of the gate, but TCU then got a bit pass-happy in the second half and his performance fell off a bit.  He did finish the game with 247 total yards and two touchdowns, running the offense efficiently enough to win the offensive MVP of the game.  That being said, had TCU been a bit more productive with the ball late, it wouldn't have had to sweat so much at the end.  Grade:B

Defense: His name is Tank Carder, and this game wasn't as much the Rose Bowl as it was the Tank Carder Show.  Carder was everywhere on the field for the TCU defense.  Knocking Scott Tolzien to the ground repeatedly, swallowing runners in the backfield, and knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage.  If you didn't know Carder's name before this game, you do now.

The only problem for TCU was its interior run defense.  While it was able to utilize its speed every time Wisconsin tried to stretch runs outside, the defensive line was getting manhandled up the middle quite a bit.  Still, considering how impressive Wisconsin's offense was over the final month of the season, holding the Badgers to 19 points is nothing to be ashamed of.  Grade: B+

Coaching: The only complaint I have about the job Gary Patterson and the TCU coaching staff did in this game was abandoning a game plan that was working so well at the start.  Andy Dalton was having successful early throwing the ball and running out of the read option, but for some reason TCU ditched this attack after the first quarter.  Instead Dalton just kept dropping back to pass, and things got a bit too predictable.  Grade: B

Wisconsin


Offense: Just looking at the statistics and not the scoreboard, you'd think Wisconsin won this game.  The Badgers rushed for nearly five yards a carry, converted nearly half of its third downs, both of its fourth down attempts and didn't turn the ball over a single time.  So what went wrong?  Well, once the Badgers got to the red zone things seemed to stall and the team had to settle for field goal attempts, one of which they missed.

Which was a big miss given the final score.

The big problem on offense was that Wisconsin just wasn't very efficient throwing the ball.  The Badgers have never been a passing team, but they've utilized play-action all season to pick up big chunks of yards and move the ball down the field.  Tolzien couldn't do this against TCU on Saturday, and it cost Wisconsin points in the end.  Grade:C+

Defense: Aside from the first quarter, Wisconsin's defense played pretty well.  It's just Wisconsin had trouble getting off the field on third down, which lengthened TCU drives and took more gas out of the tank as the game wore on.  The Badgers did a good job stopping the run and made life difficult for Dalton at times, but in the end, the Badgers defense had to make a play, and they simply didn't.

A turnover or two would have gone a long way in this game.  Grade:B

Coaching: Why did Wisconsin lose this game despite the stats? Coaching decisions.  Now, I loved Bret Bielema calling a fake punt deep in his own territory in the first half, but other than that, he left me scratching my head quite a bit.  There was the questionable clock management at the end of the first half that forced Wisconsin to settle for a field goal, as it seems Bielema thought unused timeouts carried over to the second half.  The biggest gaffe, however, came at the end of the game.  On Wisconsin's final drive the Badgers ran the ball right down TCU's throat with John Clay and Montee Ball.  After finally punching the ball into the end zone, the Badgers had to go for two, so what did Wisconsin do?  They spread it out with four receivers and decided to throw.  A Tank Carder fly swat later and TCU was Rose Bowl champions.  Grade:F

Final Grade


The first quarter gave me the feeling that this was going to be an epic Rose Bowl, one that would go down in history.  Things didn't quite play out that way, but it was still a very interesting game up until the last few minutes.  It was a huge win for TCU, and one I thoroughly enjoyed watching.  With or without the questionable decisions at the end.  Grade: A-
Posted on: December 9, 2010 12:20 pm
 

Terrelle Pryor could dominate, prefers winning

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Terrelle Pryor hasn't made much of a secret of the fact he's felt a bit disrespected this season.  He started the season as a Heisman contender, but quickly fell off the radar thanks to guys like fellow quarterbacks Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore.  Heck, Pryor wasn't even named to the Big Ten All Conference teams, instead being passed over for guys like Denard Robinson, Scott Tolzien and Dan Persa.  Which was something he's already voiced his displeasure over via Twitter.

It's obvious that this all bothers Pryor, whether he wants to admit it or not, because it seems like every chance he gets to tell somebody that he's better he takes it.  This time Pryor was talking to the Chicago Tribune when the topic of those other quarterbacks came up, and he made sure to point out that if he was in a different type of offense than the one they run at Ohio State, he'd be dominating college football.

"I'll put it like this: You put me in any of their offenses — any of them — and I'd dominate," Pryor said. "I'd dominate the nation. What those guys do, that's what they're supposed to do in their offense.

"They carry the ball 30 times a game. I carry the ball maybe five times. There are times I didn't even run the ball in a game. You put me in any of their offenses, where I can run the ball and have a choice to throw, I would dominate college football."

This is where I point out to Pryor that he could have been in one of those offenses had he chose to.  After all, he was being recruited at Michigan too, but chose Ohio State.  Which Pryor is fully aware of, but at the end of the day he makes sure to point out that while he may not receive all the accolades that the others do, there's only one thing he really cares about.

"People get into the statistical thing, and at the end of the day, what's the statistic that really matters?" Pryor said.

"We could have done better, but I'm 30-4. I want nothing else but to win. If I was having a lot of stats and I was losing, I would really be kind of mad. My competitive nature wants just to win, by any means. By any means, win. That's all I really care about, to tell you the truth, man."

Which is nice to hear, but it's obviously not the whole truth.  I'm sure Pryor cares a lot about winning, but if it's the only thing he cares about, why is he spending so much time complaining about everything else?
Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:20 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 10:10 pm
 

Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien wins Unitas Award

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the nation's top senior quarterback, announced its 2010 winner today. Wisconsin signal-caller Scott Tolzien , who led the Badgers to an 11-1 record and a berth in the 2011 Rose Bowl, won the award today.

[Check out the rest of the awards and nominees here.]

Now obviously, the pool for this award is always going to be diluted on account of it being limited to senior quarterbacks, and the tendency of high-level QB prospects to declare for the draft before their senior season only further weakens the available list of candidates. Tolzien won this award over a rather tepid list of finalists: Andy Dalton , Colin Kaepernick , Christian Ponder , and Ricky Stanzi.

Or, more to the point, Tolzien wasn't up against Cam Newton , Kellen Moore , Andrew Luck , Ryan Mallett , Dan Persa , or Brandon Weeden. And that's good for Tolzien, because his statistics and the context surrounding them are totally underwhelming. While Tolzien led all seniors with a 169.80 passing efficiency and 74.8 completion percentage, he was hardly the focal point of the offense or the main engine getting it into the end zone; Tolzien recorded just 16 passing touchdowns, compared to his team's otherworldly 46 rushing touchdowns (of which Tolzien had none). Tolzien's total yardage accounted for just 42.6% of Wisconsin's yards, which compares rather unfavorably to Colin Kaepernick's 57.7%. And yes, Wisconsin is ranked higher than Nevada and was involved in more blowouts in which Tolzien's services weren't needed ... but TCU just so happens to be ranked even higher than Wisconsin, was involved in many blowouts of its own, and Dalton's total yardage was still 51.6% of his Horned Frogs' total yards. Also, keep in mind Tolzien was facing a defense with eight men in the box basically all the time, thanks to Wisconsin's thundering ground game. That's a luxury Dalton and Kaepernick didn't enjoy, and they still outperformed Tolzien in every category except passing efficiency, where Tolzien's lead is utterly marginal.

Beyond this year, though, Tolzien's numbers scarcely fit the typical profile of a Unitas Award winner. Beginning in 1995, when noted option enthusiast Tommie Frazier won the award with Nebraska, the average passing touchdown total of the Unitas winner has been 32.5 TDs ... or basically twice that of Tolzien and his 16 touchdowns. The only winner in that timespan with fewer than seven more touchdowns than Tolzien was (no surprise) Frazier, and even he threw for 17 TDs his senior year.

It just seems, like John Clay inexplicably being named a Doak Walker finalist, as if Tolzien is being given this award in lieu of a team award, since Wisconsin is ranked fourth and hooray for that. And it's not as if Tolzien had a bad season, either; his performance against the Iowa defense, especially when he drove the team down the field for a touchdown in the third quarter with only Montee Ball healthy (and Ball lining up at wideout since Nick Toon was out, no less), was really a fantastic display of passing. But by and large, there's just no way Tolzien was a more deserving recipient of this award than Dalton or Kaepernick.



Posted on: November 29, 2010 5:58 pm
 

Broyles finalists have offensive flavor

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The ancient saw about football is that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. But based on this offense-dominated 2010 season, it may be time to admit that when it comes to college football, offense can just about handle the whole thing, thanks; likely BCS title game participants Auburn and Oregon both ride their record-breaking offenses first and their defenses second, and whether it's the Big Ten with Wisconsin , the Big 12 South with Oklahoma , or the SEC East with South Carolina (and their 100th-ranked pass defense ), defense-first teams are giving way to more explosive counterparts.

Which helps explain why of the five finalists announced today for the Broyles Award , given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, four of them are offensive coordinators at the helm of some of the nation's best attacks. They are:

Dick Bumpas, defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, TCU
Paul Chryst, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Wisconsin
Dana Holgorsen, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State
Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Auburn
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, Stanford

Of the five, Malzahn has become (almost without question) the biggest name in the group and with his unorthodox scheme producing not only an SEC West title but a probable Heisman Trophy for Cam Newton , he's your likely front-runner. But all five have done incredible work this season: Holgorsen took over a Cowboy offense missing its longtime quarterback and biggest receiving threats and helped make Justin Blackmon and Kendall Hunter All-Americans; Chryst has made Scott Tolzien  the most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten by a mile while maintaining the Badgers' bulldozing ground-based mentality; Roman, likely the most obscure name in the bunch, has coordinated an offense that lost Toby Gerhart and still averaged better than 40 points per game; and though a couple of off-games have denied TCU their run at being the best statistical defense of the decade , Bumpas's perenially excellent Frogs again lead the nation in both total and scoring defense.

But a vote for Bumpas in 2010 feels a bit like counterprogramming opposite the Super Bowl or something similar. This is the season of offense in college football, and the Broyles winner will likely reflect that.

Posted on: November 27, 2010 4:36 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 4:38 pm
 

Wisconsin smells roses

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With wins by both Ohio State and Michigan State on Saturday morning, Wisconsin came in to its regular season finale against Northwestern needing a win to grab a share of the Big Ten title and possibly punch its ticket to Pasadena.  So far, things are going according to plan.

The game is still early in the second quarter, but the Badgers aren't having any trouble with the Dan Persa-less Wildcats.  Montee Ball has three touchdowns in the first 18 minutes of action, as Wisconsin has jumped out to a 21-3 lead.  Not helping Northwestern's case are the three turnovers that it has already committed.

Illinois gashed Northwestern for over 500 yards on the ground last week at Wrigley Field, and it looks like Wisconsin may be able to top that.

This win is huge for Wisconsin not just because of the Big Ten title, but because if the Badgers do win, they'll likely be bound for Pasadena and the Rose Bowl.  With a three-way tie atop the conference, the BCS standings will be used to determine which team gets to go to the Rose Bowl.  Up until this week Wisconsin has been ahead of both Ohio State and Michigan State, and that's not likely to change considering the way things are currently going in Madison.

Update: As I hit publish on this post, Scott Tolzien hit David Gilreath for an 18-yard touchdown pass.  It's now 28-3 Wisconsin.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 9:22 am
 

Finalists named for Unitas Golden Arm Award

Posted by Chip Patterson

In the 2010 college football season, we have been fortunate to see exhilarating quarterback play all across the nation.  There has been Mallett and Newton in the SEC, and the big arms of Luck and Moore on out west.  Unfortunately none of those players are seniors, and do not quality for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.  As opposed to the Davey O'Brien award, given to the nation's most outstanding quarterback; the Unitas Golden Arm Award is saved for the nation's top senior quarterback.  So without further ado, here are the finalists who will be receiving coupons to Country Kitchen Buffet.

Andy Dalton, TCU
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Christian Ponder, Florida State
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa
Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin


Obviously all these quarterbacks have had great seasons, and should not be overlooked just because of their age.  In fact, many of the names on that list were favorites for the Davey O'Brien coming into the season.  However, winning the Unitas Golden Arm Award could be a good omen of things to come at the next level.  Recent award winners include Colt McCoy (2009), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002), and Peyton Manning (1997).  Not a bad crew to be associated with if you ask me.  

The 2010 winner will be presented with the Golden Arm Award in a ceremony on December 10 in Downtown Baltimore.  Many of Unitas' Baltimore Colts teammates will be on hand, including Unitas' center and current Georgia State football coach, Bill Curry.
 
 
 
 
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