Tolzien’s study gives No. 12 Wisconsin confidence

Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien walked into his bedroom in

the apartment he shares with offensive linemen John Moffitt and

Bill Nagy and made a startling discovery.

His room was upside down.

The furniture. The posters on the wall. Everything.

”We had his bed turned upside down, his TV stand upside down,”

Moffitt said, laughing about his prank. ”I’m naturally kind of a

slob. I don’t put things back and he likes things very in order.

It’s really kind of creepy.”

It’s a little mild to call Tolzien just a perfectionist. He’s

into the smallest of details – and that’s a good thing.

Moffitt and receiver Nick Toon say Tolzien’s relentless pursuit

of perfection inspires confidence. The 12th-ranked Badgers know the

fifth-year senior won’t be unsure or unprepared in crunch time on

Saturdays, when they take on the likes of Ohio State and Iowa.

”It’s a really good thing to have as a quarterback,” Toon

said. ”He’s just organized in all aspects of his life, from his

football to his playbook to his room to anything.”

Most of the attention at Wisconsin goes to the line or to the

running game, led this year by dynamic tailback John Clay. Last

year, Tolzien wasn’t the starter or even the backup heading into

fall camp, but he climbed the depth chart in camp and landed the

starter’s role.

”This year, my outlook is just going to be one of a little bit

more responsibility,” said Tolzien, who was recruited by

Mid-American Conference schools until Wisconsin came into the

picture. ”That’s what you want as a quarterback, the

responsibility to make changes if things aren’t right and just

lead.”

Last year, he threw for 2,705 yards with 16 TDs and 11

interceptions, leading Wisconsin to a 10-3 record and a win in the

Champs Sports Bowl over Miami after making just eight attempts

previously in his college career.

Tolzien has traveled so far that one national publication called

him the ”perfect quarterback” for Wisconsin because of his

demeanor. Tolzien chuckles at the compliment, describing what type

of player that would be.

”First and foremost you’ve got to take care of the ball. We win

games by winning the turnover battle,” he said. ”Secondly,

playing within yourself. Don’t play out of your abilities or try to

do too much in this offense, which is great because you know that

it all starts with the run game and just trying to chip away, just

trying to move the chains rather than always having to make big

plays and have the whole thing on your shoulders.”

Tolzien tries to shrug off that he’s obsessed, pointing at his

father, Mike, as the real neat freak of his family with the

perfectly manicured lawn outside their suburban Chicago home. He’s

not really that bad, he says as Toon shakes his head in

disagreement nearby.

”I’ve been in his room, it’s spotless,” Toon said.

Does Tolzien get frantic if he can’t find something?

”Yeah, yeah. That’s why his roommates go in and move stuff

around sometimes to mess with him,” the receiver said.

Moffitt, the lineman roommate, stays up late, plays video games

and lounges around. Tolzien is gone early each day, choosing a

morning routine.

”He and I are polar opposites. He’s very ‘productive’ – that’s

the word he uses,” Moffitt said.

Tolzien doesn’t see why he’d squander time being messy when he

could use it toward building something special.

”I feel like you only get so many opportunities and when you

miss details, I feel like you wasted an opportunity – on the field

and in the classroom,” he said. ”I’m not perfect, but I get

frustrated when I don’t have the details down.”

And just because teammates know how to needle Tolzien, it

doesn’t mean he’s a pushover. Far from it, he uses all that work to

his advantage against his opponents – and his teammates.

When backup quarterback Curt Phillips sat in the third row of a

recent meeting and donned Tolzien’s No. 16 jersey to get a rise out

of the straight-laced leader, Tolzien didn’t miss a beat.

”What are you doing with a Joe Montana jersey on?” he

asked.

Touche.