December 10, 2009

Tolzien looking for statement win in bowl

MADISON - Scott Tolzien put together a number of quality games throughout the year as he helped guide his team to nine regular season win. Though he struggled at times in some Badger losses, he excelled in Badger wins. After word came down that UW would play Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, Tolzien seemed excited for a shot to end the season on a high note.

After the Badgers returned from Hawaii, was there to catch up with the junior quarterback. The following is a question and answer with Tolzien.

For the guys that were on this team last year and going down to the Champs Sports Bowl and really getting crushed, has there already been talk about wanting to get redemption for this program? Even though it is a different opponent?

Tolzien: I haven't heard any, well, everyone was sleeping on the flight back, but I haven't heard any talk of redemption. I think more than anything, every game has been a different and exciting challenge for us. This game is no different. It's just a team like Miami from the ACC and the storyline is going to be their speed. It's going to be a nice challenge for us just in our preparation and for the game on the 29th.

As for the Hurricanes, what kind of challenges do they present. Obviously their ranked 14th in the country so they must be doing something right this season.

Tolzien: I remember seeing a few games, I think they were Thursday night games early on in the season, and they were very impressive. The quarterback, I was impressed with him as well as the rest of their team. They've got a lot of weapons and it's going to be a tough challenge for us.

The other guys said they were surprised when they found out the bowl destination. Were you surprised as well?

Tolzien: A little bit. I really hadn't put too much focus into that. I think that made it not much of a surprise just because I wasn't surfing the web to see what bowl game we were in. It really doesn't matter. We just got to take care of our business, play our best football and come out with a win.

Do you view this as a great opportunity? Especially against a team like Miami?

Tolzien: Yeah, no question. You see the tradition that they've had in the past and just the talent they've had and the way they've been able to recruit. It would be a statement win for our program.

How do you go about making a statement against a program like Miami that has such rich history and rich tradition of winning football games?

Tolzien: I think just worrying about us. With that being said talking about their tradition, we've got a lot of tradition here too. We just need to play our style of football and play our best game up to date. Hopefully that will set us up for a chance to win the game.

With this program having two more wins than it did last year but going to the same bowl game, did it kind of feel like a little bit of a snub?

Tolzien: I didn't feel that way just because we can only control what we can control. We can control which bowl game we're going to by our success in the win column, but I feel like we've had a good season. I'm not going to let what bowl we get invited to affect our preparation or how we're going to approach the bowl game.

How much do you think that Florida State game last year planted the seed for what you guys have done this year?

Tolzien: I definitely feel like it left a sour taste in our mouth. We came back in January after the bowl game and having the month off, you could kind of see a little fire and a little chip on our shoulder from the first day we stepped in the weight room for our winter conditioning. The guys had an edge and quite frankly, it was kind of embarrassing that game last year. Sometimes you got to go through those downs to get your ups. Hopefully it sets us up for a good bowl prep this year.

What did you take away from that experience?

Tolzien: I think the lesson was more just to play our style. It seemed like in that game, things kind of snowballed. I remember early on in the game we were with them step for step. It was a close game, a real good game. A couple of things went their way and not our way. The trick play, and it kind of snowballed from there on. Its just a good lesson to just play the next play and not let the last play affect you. Just run one play at a time.

Do you think this team is better able to do that this year and have you proven that during the season?

Tolzien: Yes and no. I've always felt good with our coaches and the guys we've had ever since we've been here. But I do feel like this team, we're real cohesive and play well together. I think we're a pretty focused team to have that next play mentality. Saying it is one thing, obviously we got to make that happen.

A big part of this program is winning bowl games and you guys haven't won the last two. How badly do you guys just need to win bowl games to get that straightened out?

Tolzien: For sure. I remember growing up and watching Wisconsin. They were always great in bowl games. The last two, we've had a little bit of a setback. There is a lot of talk about how that kind of defines your season. You have all this time to prep and improve from your last game until the bowl game. It will definitely be a good test for us to try to break the past.

It fits in with the re-establishing Wisconsin which has been a goal all year anyway. That's as big a part of the program and everything and a way to put a stamp on the year.

Tolzien: That's exactly what it is. All along we said that establishing Wisconsin football and there have been shades of us making that a reality this year. This is no different. This, I guess you could say, would put an explanation point on the season.

You talked about the improvement and having time off to prepare. You've had both bye weeks when you came out and it appeared that you played better coming out of a bye week. Did you feel that way at Hawaii as well?

Tolzien: I felt that way. You look at Ohio State and Iowa and then a bye week and we came out and played a real good game against Purdue and played well against Hawaii, too. Hopefully that's a pattern that you can continue on with. It's just a matter of keeping on improving in practice and having focus in meetings and practice. Like you said, the rest will take care of itself.

Would you call the season a success if you guys were to go down there and lose?

Tolzien: Yes and no. There are a lot of good things we've done this year and a lot of things personally and as a team I'm sure we wish we could have back. I just want to focus on prepping for the win and hopefully we won't have to worry about that.

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