PCP: Badgers’ MVP?

first_imgHolt:Scott Tolzien and the offensive line gave this Big Ten Champion team its identity. And for a team that set a program record in points per game (43.3), it’s hard to ignore such a prolific offense.But the defense, up and down as it was, came up big when it needed to. And defensive end J.J. Watt was what made the defense go. In my eyes, Watt was the MVP of this Badger squad. This isn’t a slight against Tolzien, who was phenomenal, or Carimi, who dominated some of the nation’s best defensive ends.But with Chris Borland out, all eyes were on Watt to be the playmaker on defense, and he didn’t disappoint.Against NU, the behemoth of a junior had three quarterback hurries (two that led to interceptions), a sack, two forced fumbles, three tackles for loss and a blocked PAT. He was everywhere. NU quarterback Evan Watkins can’t be blamed if he now dumps his trunks every time he sees the number “99.”And in talking about his performance against the Wildcats, Watt said he “was just trying to have some fun.” Just imagine what happens when he gets angry.With 21 tackles for loss on the year, Watt ranked third in the nation in that category and second in the Big Ten in sacks, with seven. He was tied for second in pass break-ups among Badgers, and that comes as a defensive lineman. He also recovered two fumbles, forced three and blocked three kicks.But as nice as numbers are, it’s the timing that counts.Montee Ball was unbelievable in getting the go-ahead touchdown at Iowa. But Watt blocked the PAT that allowed it to be a go-ahead touchdown. And with the game on the line, Watt got a just-barely sack of Ricky Stanzi to stall the Hawkeye’s would-be comeback drive. And with Terrelle Pryor leading a dangerous Buckeyes offense, who should get the huge and timely sacks, but Watt?As far as coming up in the clutch and making an impact on the game – any way he could – Watt was unparalleled on the UW defense. And while the offense was full of stars, Watt often shone alone on the other side of the ball. That’s why he’s UW’s MVP.Fiammetta:Average arm, average size, sort-of-fun-to-pronounce last name. It’s rule number one of selecting team MVPs: if they’ve got the name, they’ve got the award.That was stupid.But seriously, Tolzien’s a great name. You can say it in a number of ways, too. You can say it dramatically, with a pause in between Scott and Tolzien, “Scott…TOLZIEN!” Or, you can put some emphasis on the “ien” in Tolzien, a la, “Scott TolzieeEEN!” It’s funnier if you say it quickly too, kinda combining the name into one word, “ScottTolzieeEEN!”Just try it out. When I’m the next Brent Musburger (minus the booze), you’ll see.But if you don’t feel like waiting, I guess you can look to Tolzien’s stats as justification for his MVP candidacy – 2,300 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. His 169.80 efficiency rating is the nation’s fourth-best, and his completion percentage of 74.3 percent is No. 1.In all honesty, though, Tolzien (TolzieeEEN!) is the type of player that you can’t truly assess by stats alone. For instance, in that magical, holy-sh**-we-might-still-have-some-BCS-hopes upset of Ohio State in mid-October, Tolzien was efficient – 13-16, 152 yards – but he still threw an ugly pick. 81 percent completion percentage is phenomenal, but completion percentages hardly drop jaws. But make no mistake – and anybody that saw the game should be able to tell you this – the Badgers might not have put the Buckeyes away if it wasn’t for Tolzien’s ability to make the big throws when needed.That kind of talk, “make the big throws when needed,” sometimes gives the impression sportswriters are just too lazy and/or uniformed to develop a strong point. But the very next week after OSU, in Iowa, Tolzien led UW on a game-winning 15-play, 80-yard, 7:29 drive that won the game and simultaneously stopped the hearts of everyone watching. Tolzien completed two fourth downs on that drive – most notably the second, a fourth-and-four bullet to running back Montee Ball that cemented Wisconsin’s two-game return to national prominence.So, remember Tolzien’s presence on the Badgers goes behind his stats. It’s defined by his efficiency, his leadership (he’s one of six UW captains) and his kickass name. ScottTolzieeEEN!last_img