Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rose Bowl Preview: Quarterbacks.

As I did last year, today I will begin the position by position breakdowns for the Rose Bowl to see who has the hypothetical edge and presumably get everyone fired up for the big game. Also, if you want to remain uncontrollably optimistic as I do, I suggest you do not go back and reread last year's previews and compare them to the end results. I'm only human guys! Leave me alone!

Admittedly, and this is a disclaimer going forward, I've watched very little Wisconsin football this year, mostly because our games ran concurrent with one another, but also because I never could bring myself to wake up only to be lulled back to sleep by Pam Ward in the early ESPN Big Ten matchup. So, I'll be making a lot of assumptions, most of which will probably knowingly or unknowingly swing things in TCU's favor. It's just how I operate and I'm sure most of you will be appreciative of that. So PLEASE feel free to correct anything I've said in the comments if there are facts to prove me otherwise. You'll be wrong, of course, but dissenting opinions never killed anyone... except during the Spanish Inquisition, World World I, World War II, The Vietnam War, the Korean War and the 2008 and 2009 versions of the TCU/BYU game in regards to Max Hall vs. Jerry Hughes.

To kick things off, I'll start with the most important position on the field - The Field General himself, the Quarterback... except for both of these teams, the QB is actually of lesser importance than their backfield counterparts. Regardless, nothing happens until they say it does, so start there we must!

Wisconsin - Scott Tolzien. SR. 6-3, 205.



TCU - Andy Dalton. SR, 6-3, 220.



Underinformed Analysis:

Based solely on the stats provided above, which is usually how I do a lot of my business, Tolzien and Dalton are shockingly well matched. But, understanding how both offenses tend to operate - "Hey you! Yeah You! Running Back! Take this and run that way with it!" - this makes a ton of sense. As TCU fans, we naturally bristle whenever someone refers to Andy "the Winningest QB currently playing in division I" Dalton as a game manager; in fact, I'm pretty sure I've written at least 3-4 posts on the subject just this season. However, from a superficial standpoint - IE someone who never watches our games and only reads the stats - you can see how that mistake is made. When you look at a team that has the 8th ranked rushing attack in the nation but only the 58th ranked passing, that's a fair and logical conclusion to draw. However, like I said - being the winningest QB currently playing division 1 football has to give him enough street cred to be seen as more than a "game manager," right?

I think Tolzien struggles with the same perception as well, and arguably even moreso. We've all heard the talking heads go on and on and on about the Wisconsin run game, but Tolzien has quietly had a pretty solid year. Especially considering he may as well not even play for the Badgers if you listen to the media talk about the team. He hasn't had any monster games when compared to Dalton - Tolzien's biggest day came against Northwestern in the last game of the season when he went 15-19 for 230 yards and 3 TDs whereas Dalton had more than 230 yards in 6 of the 11 full games he played this year, and 4 games with at least 3 TDs. Overall, Tolzien is more accurate, but he matched AD's 6 picks despite throwing over 50 fewer passes. The big numbers to compare here, though, are total yards and TDs, which Dalton leads by 300 yards and 10 TDs, respectively.

If we want to talk "big game" comparisons, I suppose you'd use Oregon State, Baylor and Utah for TCU and Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State for the Badgers. For Dalton, the Baylor and Utah games were perhaps his two best of the whole year, as he combined to go 42/49 for 622 yards with 5 TDs and no INTs. The Oregon State game was less impressive as he only went 17/27 for 175 yards a TD and 2 picks, but at least he got the one thing that mattered in the end: a win. For Tolzien, those three games represent some of his lowest outputs on the season, most notably against Michigan State where he went 11/25 for 127 yards no TDs and a pick. And, of course, his team lost by 10. He fared better against Ohio State, going 13-16, but only put up 152 yards and still had to 0 TD/1 INT mark against his statline. And the Iowa game wasn't much better - 1 TD/1 Pick. I'm not naive enough to suggest that Baylor and Oregon State are as good as Michigan State or Ohio State, and pre-" I'm so faaaaddeeeeeddd, man" Iowa very well could be better than Utah. But the real thing to remember here is, while those teams are good, none of them have a defense that in any way compares to what the Badgers are going to see on January 1. They can talk all they want about how their offensive line is going to absolutely blow us up, but, if you read the quotes, GP doesn't seem all that worried based on what we've already seen this year. Besides that, our passing defense is arguably better than our run D, which has little to do with their offensive line. If Tolzien couldn't fling it against those three teams, why should we expect him to do it against us?

This one is a lot harder to analyze than it seems. If we're going straight stats and comparing overall ratings, TDs, picks, completion % and yards, it's dead even with each QB taking two each and tieing in the picks department. I think the most logical way to look at this is to ask, "If the run game for both teams goes stagnant and the end result comes down to a QB battle, who has the better odds?" Would you rather have the guy who hasn't had to win a game by himself all year, or a guy who, despite being bolstered by a solid ground game, can rack up yards against anyone? Would you rather have the guy who played his best games against the top competition on the schedule, or the guy who had his weakest outputs of the year in those games?

Besides, can I really go against AD on the big stage, especially after last year? If there's anyone on the team who wants to avenge last year's embarassment in the desert, it's Dalton. You could probably pick this one either way, but this is the last time I'll ever be able to pick Dalton. I'm taking advantage.

Besides, in the Michigan game, Tolzien threw ONE pass in the second half. We would never downplay Dalton like that.

Edge - Frogs.


shortnkerley's said...

I wonder if the Skiff thinks we should play Pachall in this game based on his high school stats and productive day against New Mexico...I'm sorry, I will just NEVER let them live that one down.

Slay Purple said...

I am still surprised that Tolzien won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (Best Senior QB) over Dalton. Once ESPN realizes that they will no doubt tout Wisconsin has "The Best O-Line, RB's, & QB in the NATION!!!" from Kirk "Terrelle Pryor gave me a buckeye in the locker room" Heirbstret

Sir Wesley Willis said...

Yeah, from what I can tell, he's a very accurate QB, but he's not asked to do near as much as Dalton is.. which isn't saying a lot.