One thing you've got to give Wisconsin quarterbacks: they're not afraid to throw over the middle. Although Wisconsin's passing game has historically been a product of dropping darts into the outstretched arms of NFL caliber tight ends, the Badger attack is becoming dangerously balanced under the leadership of Scott Tolzien. Tolzien got the nod at the beginning of 2009 over veteran Dustin Sherer and almost immediately injected balance into a fundamentally solid unit. Along the way he set the school record for completions in one season, with 211, and racked up 2,705 passing yards. Not shabby for any team with John Clay on the roster.
Tolzien was last seen firebombing the Miami secondary with accomplice Lance Kendricks.
We know he's got the looks, what about the touch?
Big Ten Report Card:
1. Kirk Cousins (A-)
- Security/Ball Placement (B): A little too nonchalant with the football. Keeps a stiff "barbell" grip on the seams but holds the prize away from his body. This bad habit contributed to five fumbles last year. (All but two were recovered).
- Retreat Speed (A): Moves back from the line of scrimmage in a controlled, disciplined rhythm. Shows good balance and control.
- Footwork (A-): Has a bit of a wide "dueling" stance, but keeps his shoulders in step with his cleats. Bounces a tad on the release.
- The Fake (A-): All business behind center. Likes to throw the hot route, so there's not a ton of frills or embellishment. Showed an uncanny ability to freeze linebackers in the Champs Sports Bowl. On play action he pulls the ball back before it gets anywhere near the running back's hands. That motion isn't fooling anyone.
- Adaptation (A-): Appears as comfortable in the pocket as on the run. Good upfield vision and forward momentum.
- Survey (B-): This is an area where Tolzien has some room to improve. He frequently keys in on a receiver, does a brief scan in the opposite direction and fires. I'd like to see him test coverages a little more.
- Stance (B-): A bit of a sidewinder. Shrinks down in an apparent attempt to keep the ball low. Tolzien's "lean" exposes a lack of confidence in his ability to deliver front and center.
- Step (B+): The step is a little shallow, and Tolzien comes down flat footed. Still, it seems to do the trick.
- Wrist/Throw (B+): Great short, controlled arm motion, but the sharpness of Tolzien's windup is diluted by a soft release.
How the Offense Affects Mechanics (A-):
Tolzien is a quintessential NFL style quarterback playing in one of the few offenses in college football to employ tight ends for more than blocking. Although being asked to throw more high risk passes might boost his confidence, his arm and motion are well suited for timed throws to the flat.