Badgers' Marz tabbed with blocking Clowney

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By Jeff Potrykus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Friday, December 27, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla.--Wisconsin left tackle Tyler Marz understands the enormity of the challenge he will face in the Capital One Bowl:

Meet South Carolina junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

He stands 6 foot 6, weighs 274 pounds, explodes out of his stance with the ease of a sprinter and can run around or over even through the most dependable offensive tackles.

“He is long, quick, shifty and strong, too,” said Marz, who has been hampered by a right-ankle sprain suffered Nov. 2 at Iowa. “He’s got it all. I think they are good at jumping the snap count, and he is pretty quick, too.

“And I’ve seen him bull-rush and he just walks the tackle back into the quarterback. He has got the best of both worlds on his side.”

Marz, a 6-5, 321-pound redshirt sophomore from Springfield, Minn., is coming off arguably his least effective performance of the season.

He struggled in pass-protection in the 31-24 loss to Penn State and watched the fourth quarter from the sideline as offensive line coach T.J. Woods shifted Ryan Groy to left tackle from left guard.

“I am really excited about it,” Marz said of facing Clowney, who generally lines up over the opponent’s left tackle. “I didn’t have a great performance against Penn State. This gives me the opportunity to play against one of the best.

“The spotlight is going to be on him, so that puts its on me. Whether I can get my job done is going to be huge. I am looking forward to it.”

Clowney’s numbers—three sacks, 10 tackles for loss—can’t match up with those of tackle Kelcy Quarles (9 sacks, 13 tackles for loss).

However, Clowney was slowed by bone spurs in his right foot and a rib injury.

He recently announced he was fit for UW.

“Right now, my mind’s on the team, trying to finish the season off strong and win this game against Wisconsin,” Clowney said recently.

Marz held up through three games after injuring the ankle at Iowa—BYU, Indiana and Minnesota. He didn’t play well against Penn State’s front but wouldn’t use the ankle injury as a crutch.

“I wouldn’t say he is fully back but he is working on it,” UW offensive line coach T.J. Woods said. “The good thing is he has time. It was a pretty significant deal.

“It has been some time now but he has battled through it, and he has re-tweaked it every time he gets in there.

“But I expect him to be full speed by the bowl game.”

Woods said that until the Penn State game he never thought the injury significantly affected Marz’s play.

“He proved the weeks prior that he was able to execute his assignments and do his job,” Woods said. “Against BYU, Kyle Van Noy√ is a tremendous pass-rusher and Tyler held up well against him.”

Van Noy is good. Clowney, when healthy and motivated, is outstanding. He could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

“The Clowney kid is a great player,” UW coach Gary Andersen said. “He is one of the best college defensive ends I’ve ever seen play the game, without question.”

UW’s players and coaches understand Clowney isn’t the only threat on the South Carolina defensive front.

Quarles, 6-4 and 298, generally lines up next to Clowney, which makes it difficult to double-team both players.

“You’ve got to pick your poison,” Woods said.

Chaz Sutton, 6-5 and 263, has two sacks, four quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and 7 tackles for loss. Tackle J.T. Surratt (6-2 and 307) has 1 sacks and four tackles for loss.

“I think they are all kind of the same in that they are physical and they are athletic,” Woods said of South Carolina’s front four. “So you never really know what is coming. They can beat you with speed or they can be physical with you, too, if you’re not geared into that.”

Fair or not, the spotlight will fall on Marz and Clowney. Marz knows that. Is he ready for the challenge?

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