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Badger Bits: The emergence of Scott Tolzien

Here are your Badger Bits for Friday, July 23rd:

When Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien was named the starter before the 2009-10 football season, there were many questions surrounding the red-shirt junior. One year and 2,705 passing yards later, Tolzien has established himself as one of the top signal callers in the Big Ten, if not the nation as well. The pre-season accolades continue to pile up for the red shirt senior, who was named to several watch lists for awards given to the top quarterbacks in the nation. Tolzien is on the list for the Davey O'Brian Award and the Manning Award, both of which are awarded to the top quarterback in the nation, as well as the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is presented to the nation's top senior quarterback.

Mike Lucas of has a piece chronicling Tolzien's rise to prominence from his previous role as a second-string afterthought. Instead of defying expectations this year, Tolzien will have to prove that he is capable of limiting his mistakes and living up to the high expectations set for him and the 2010 Badger football team by the fans and the media. One way he can do that is by proving that the Badgers have more than just a running attack. Eitan Horwitz at thinks that he and junior wide receiver Nick Toon will be the mainstays of an improved offense that will be able to keep opposing defenses off-balance and provide more opportunities for running back John Clay. Tight end Lance Kendricks and wide receiver Isaac Anderson will also give Tolzien more offensive weapons to choose from.

Tolzien also made the Badger Herald's list of players to watch in 2010. The list also includes Clay, Kendricks and Toon, but also mentions defensive end JJ Watt, linebacker Chris Borland, and safety Jay Valai. In my opinion, the listed defensive players will be the keys to success for the Badgers. Valai and Watt in particular will need to step up and replace team leaders Chris Maragos and O'Brien Schofield. As seen in this YouTube video from 2008, Valai has never had trouble hitting hard: it's just a matter of if he can anchor the defensive side of the ball.


In other news around Badger Nation:

Andrew Baggot analyzes a potential discrepancy in the hiring of female coaches. Baggot concludes that, while UW has the fewest women coaches in the Big Ten (Tied with Purdue at 3), it is a product of hiring the best available candidate for the job. Baggot also quoted Terry Gawlik, Wisconsin's associate athletic director for sports administration:

"You’re only as good as the pool of candidates you bring in," Gawlik said. "So when somebody comes in and shines during the interview and all the (administrators) are on board and this person was the best fit, that’s who you offer the job to."

Maddux has rated the Big Ten as the second-best football conference in the nation, only trailing the SEC. Given that the Big Ten has at least two other BCS-bowl contenders besides Wisconsin, it doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Speaking of the Big Ten, there are still a couple issues to sort out post-expansion. While it has been said that the league will announce the divisional lineups at a later date, there is still much speculation as to where the championship game will be held at the end of the season. The most commonly mentioned locations are Soldier Field in Chicago, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Jared Shanker at thinks that the league should settle on one location, and not move the game around as one popular theory suggests. 

I am personally in favor of having the game at Lambeau field, and it appears that the feeling is mutual with the Packers. The biggest problem with hosting the game in Green Bay is that the city may not have the necessary infrastructure to host so many people at one time.

Here's some follow-up information on two of the Badger's newest recruits:

Princeton de-commit Joe Faust signed his national letter of intent and will be eligible to play in the upcoming season. Head coach Mike Eaves scored a major recruiting coup by getting Faust and forward Gavin Hartzog to join the team a year ahead of schedule.

And finally, here are some video highlights of the basketball team's newest recruit, Jarrod Uthoff.

43 days until kick off!