August 4, 2010

Tolzien poised to build off junior season

Wisconsin senior quarterback Scott Tolzien is a perfectionist.

From the fact that he studies the playbook longer than most anyone on the team to the way he approaches the game for each practice and game, perfection is the No. 1 thing on his mind.

Everything has to be perfect. If not, it just bothers the man of detail.

It's that mindset, that dedication and that determination that elevated Tolzien from a lowly depth chart wanderer to a legitimate Big Ten quarterback on a title contending team in a matter of one short fall camp a season ago.

That perfection Tolzien strives for is what has gotten him to this point in his career.

"I know there are times when it's great and it pushes me to work harder and put more time in," Tolzien said earlier this week at Big Ten Media Days. "It can also be a bad thing when you're over analytical. You've got to move onto the next play and being a perfectionist you're always wishing you could correct that.

"It can be both ways. I think you've got to try to make the most of it."

Though all seems rosy for a guy that led his team to 10 wins a season ago after throwing for the second most yards in school history while becoming the most accurate passer Wisconsin has ever seen, the first three years at Wisconsin were anything but.

Though he tries living the life of a perfectionist, it took several mistakes and even more growing pains to get Tolzien to a level of comfort he currently portrays. And that was a long road that hadn't been traveled much from a guy who led his high school team to great success and never really felt the wrath of failure prior to stepping foot on UW's campus.

But, like anything in life, often times one has to start from the bottom in order to reach the top.

"I've heard stories of everyone," Tolzien said. "I heard about coach Jim Tressel who was eating Spaghettio's and sleeping in a locker to start his career. Like I said earlier, adversity only makes you stronger. It's the only thing that makes you appreciate things when you work your way up the ladder."

During his first season as the starter for a Wisconsin team that was lacking high expectations, it was Tolzien's attention to detail and ability to listen that allowed him to accomplish some of the things he did a season ago.

But he'd also be the first to tell you he probably wouldn't have reached those goals if it hadn't been for the mentorship of then senior Dustin Sherer.

"I'll reiterate that he was invaluable last year," Tolzien said. "Just having been under fire and being an older guy, he took me in since I came to spring practice as a high school senior. He was talking to me and making me feel at home. But I know we have other guys too.

"I'm good buddies with John Moffitt and Curt Phillips and they want nothing but the best for me. I trust them and everything they have to say and we have so many other guys in our locker room that are stand up guys and willing to help me along the way."

Head coach Bret Bielema is excited to have Tolzien back in the fold for a number of reasons. One, he's the first UW returning quarterback since John Stocco in 2006 and should lend a stacked offense some stability at the most important position. Two, he is one of the more cerebral players on the team and three, he has the drive to be the best.

So when asked who Tolzien would turn to this season when Sherer was no longer available, Bielema didn't seem to be too concerned.

"Because of the experiences that he had last year, I don't know that he needs that same recipe for success," Bielema said. "We all like certain things and everybody wants everything to be the exact same way. But bottom line, it's not going to be because Dustin is not there. Last year, in my opinion, the failures or the bumps in the roads that he experienced were the first time he's ever had to go through it.

"Now he's been there and done that. I really expect those types of hurdles to be miniscule into where he is now."

In a perfect world, that's how Tolzien would want it.

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