Tolzien starts with the Packers on Sunday, nearly 3 years after his last start
MARK HOFFMAN/MHOFFMAN@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM Image by Mark Hoffman
GREEN BAY - We’ve seen him play up close and on the big stage before, but now Scott Tolzien has graduated from the Wisconsin Badgers to the Green Bay Packers. Tolzien’s last game started, before Sunday of course, was the 2011 Rose Bowl. A 21-19 loss to TCU that for all intents and purposes ended when his two-point conversion pass was batted down by Tank Carder.
No surprise, the line just a couple of weeks ago to interview Tolzien was almost nonexistent . But, at least for now, those days are over, as the former Badgers quarterback is now the main attraction in Titletown.
But even when Tolzien was still on the practice squad and had absolutely no chance whatsoever – even in an emergency – be called in to the game, there he was; on the field hours before kickoff with quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, going through the paces of a starter, taking snaps and throwing passes in different formations.
Tolzien knew full-well he wouldn’t be playing that day.
"Well, it's one opportunity to get better," Tolzien says. "Every day matters and it doesn't matter if is game day or mid week, you've got to fight for reps. That's what it's all about."
But now Tolzien gets the bulk of the reps as the third starting quarterback in as many weeks for the Packers; something that hasn’t happened since the replacement-players strike 1987 season. Ironically, one of those quarterbacks was also the last Badger to start under center in Green Bay – and another former No. 16, Randy Wright.
So Sunday it’s the Packers and Giants from the Meadowlands…1,051 days since Scott Tolzien’s last start. Two years, 10 months and 16 days since he had to prepare as not the hypothetical starting quarterback but rather the actual starting quarterback.
But at least that start was at the Rose Bowl, under the bright lights, and in front of a national television audience. After all, It’s every Wisconsin kid’s dream – even the ones who may have happened to grow up behind Illinois’ enemy lines; quarterback the Badgers to the Rose Bowl and then head to Green Bay to take over the Packers’ offense. The rarest of opportunities to go full-circle.
"You try to minimize that right now," Tolzien says of his rare Badgers - Packers distinction. "But I'm sure I'll look back on it and kind of have that perspective on it."