UW football vs. Michigan: Tolzien shows durability, toughness and precision

2010-11-20T21:01:00Z 2010-11-20T21:37:08Z UW football vs. Michigan: Tolzien shows durability, toughness and precisionTOM MULHERN | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 madison.com

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The only problem with University of Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien on Saturday was his sliding.

At the end of three runs in the 48-28 victory over Michigan, Tolzien failed to get down or run out of bounds, subjecting himself to unnecessary hits.

For a team that basically has two quarterbacks — Tolzien and redshirt freshman Jon Budmayr — that was not something coach Bret Bielema wanted to see.

"We're going to work on the quarterback slide technique," Bielema said. "His ball security wasn't that good either on a couple of those."

Tolzien also threw an interception late in the first half, but almost everything else in his performance was spot on — right down to letting the play clock run down to help run time off in the fourth quarter.

"If there's anybody at that position playing better than him, I'd like to see who it is," Bielema said. "Unbelievable composure, ability to manage (the game), even in the fourth quarter, to milk the clock down to the final seconds — which gave Michigan no time at the end — is one of those little pieces of the puzzle that makes him very, very special."

Tolzien floated a pass a bit and cornerback James Rogers did a nice job of fighting through tight end Lance Kendricks to make the interception. It was the only incompletion Tolzien had in the game as he completed 14 of 15 passes for 201 yards. He completed the only pass he attempted in the second half for five yards; the rest came while building a 24-0 halftime lead.

All of his qualities were on display: durability, toughness and precision. The Badgers are 20-4 with Tolzien as the starter the past two seasons. He has completed 92 of 117 passes (78.6 percent) over the past six games.

About the only thing Tolzien doesn't do for the offense is block — which is only because nobody asks.

"Those guys do that because they know Scott Tolzien would do the exact same thing for them, if we let one of those (linemen) carry the ball, which we're not going to do," Bielema said of the way the linemen block for Tolzien. "Scotty will do anything to win. I think that's said for everybody on this football team."

Tolzien knows he has to do a better job of avoiding unnecessary hits.

"I've got to start getting down," he said. "It's something, you're playing and you don't really think about. But I think I probably should get down."

Onsides attempts foiled

After pulling within 31-21 in the third quarter, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez gambled with an onsides kick — and lost. It didn't surprise the Badgers and was recovered by fullback Bradie Ewing.

It gave the Badgers the ball at the Michigan 45-yard line, and they scored in seven plays to take a 38-21 lead.

Ewing said tight ends coach Joe Rudolph, who is in charge of the kickoff return team, told the players it could be coming in the huddle before going on the field.

"After they come back and score like that, to bring it in closer, they always try something, a sky kick or squib kick or something," Ewing said.

The play was fairly well executed and the ball was on the ground for a brief period before Ewing pounced on it. Earlier in the season, Ewing was one of the two deep backs, along with David Gilreath. But a change was made a couple weeks ago and Ewing moved up in the formation in the middle, where he can help direct traffic.

The ball might have hit a Michigan player prior to going the requisite 10 yards. Bielema said he would have challenged the play had the Badgers not recovered. Still, it was a heads-up play by Ewing, who also forced a fumble on kickoff coverage in the second quarter.

"It's another great example of a guy who goes above and beyond the call of duty," Bielema said.

Michigan tried another onsides kick after pulling within 41-28 and it was recovered by UW tight end Jacob Pedersen.

Coverage team struggles

Other than Ewing's forced fumble, the kickoff coverage team had problems for most of the game. Michigan returned nine kickoffs for 236 yards, an average of 26.2 yards.

Kickoff returns of 32 and 33 yards in the third quarter set up short fields for touchdown drives by the Wolverines.

The Badgers did a much better job in the fourth quarter, limiting returns to 21 and 17 yards prior to a squib kick at the end. With all the points put up by the offense, UW has 23 kickoffs in the past two games.

Extra points

After not attempting a punt in the previous game, Brad Nortman pinned the Wolverines on his only effort with a punt in the first quarter. ... Bielema announced no injuries after the game. ... It's the second time in school history UW has defeated Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan in the same season; the Badgers defeated the trio in three straight games in 1959. ... The Badgers have won three straight road games in the Big Ten Conference for the first time since 2006.

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