Commentary

Scott Tolzien a liability in Rose?

Wisconsin QB had great season, but TCU could force him into uncomfortable decisions

Originally Published: December 29, 2010
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Getty Images Scott Tolzien's performance fell off when facing quality competition.

One of the most telling stories in David Halberstam's highly entertaining book "The Education of a Coach" details Bill Belichick's mindset in game-planning for Super Bowl 25.

The problem Belichick's Giants faced was a multifaceted Bills offense that was equally capable of moving the ball effectively through the air or on the ground.

It looked to be a pick your poison kind of contest but Belichick found a way to turn some of Buffalo's seeming strengths into weaknesses. Jim Kelly's play-calling at the line of scrimmage allowed the Bills to run a hurry-up scheme, but Belichick knew that it also took away some of the play-calling advantages a more experienced offensive mind might have given to that offense.

He used this fault to bait Buffalo into running the ball more than it might normally want to. This had the double advantage of taking Kelly's aerial attack out of the game and of milking the clock, which dovetailed perfectly into New York's overall plan of shortening the game. It was a risky gambit but in the end it paid off with a 20-19 Giants win.

TCU Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson could be in a similar kind of quandary in this Saturday's Rose Bowl matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers ranked 12th in FBS in rushing yards per game and third in passer rating, so stopping either aspect of their offense would seem to be difficult.

As daunting as the task looks at first glance, a review of the some of the Badgers' game tapes and metrics indicates the Horned Frogs may be able to take advantage of a surprising weakness in the Wisconsin offense -- quarterback Scott Tolzien.