Tolzien throws 2 TDs, Wisconsin tops Wofford 44-14
MADISON Wisconsin's fumbles infuriated coach Bret Bielema so much that he threatened to put his players back on the field after the Badgers' 44-14 victory over Wofford for an impromptu practice.
"I announced it at halftime, if anybody has football exchange issues in the second half, we'll go out there and we'll suspend the Fifth Quarter (band performance) and work on making sure we have ball security," Bielema said. "But because of NCAA rules, I can't. So, we'll get it tomorrow, I guarantee it."
Wisconsin's heralded running backs — John Clay and Zach Brown — fumbled three times in the first quarter alone before Scott Tolzien got the Badgers' offense off the ground.
Tolzien threw for two touchdowns in his third start, Brown bounced back with two second-half touchdowns and Wisconsin blocked a punt for another score on Saturday in an easy win over Wofford.
But questions remain for Wisconsin (3-0) heading into the Big Ten Conference opener against Michigan State after six fumbles and three turnovers. Bielema initially didn't want to talk about the mistakes, but couldn't help from voicing his displeasure.
"I know what I have to get across as a head coach," Bielema said. "That is ball security — one hand, two hands. We have to do everything we can to make sure they understand."
Clay, a sophomore, got the start after a career-best 143 yards against Fresno State last week, but finished with 70 yards on 12 carries and fumbled three times.
Brown, the previous starter, gained 63 yards on 12 carries and lost his only fumble. The junior joined Clay reaching 1,000 yards for his career with his 2-yard TD run late in the third quarter and added another 2-yard TD run in the fourth.
"If you put that ball on the ground, you don't know if you're going to get back in or not," Brown said. "For me to go out there and fix my mistakes and have better ball security and have the game I did in the second half was really great for me confidence-wise."
Tolzien finished 15 of 20 for 159 yards and helped kickstart the offense.
"We're a run-first team just traditionally, but we're going to have to make some plays in the passing game, too, and today we were able to do that," Tolzien said.
The Badgers also got a boost on special teams when freshman Chris Borland flipped head over heels to block a punt to pull away with 28 points in the second quarter.
"I'm on multiple special teams, so that's where I'm trying to make my mark," said Borland, who also forced a fumble on a punt return in the first quarter. "If the play's there to make, I do my best to make it."
The Badgers had struggled the previous two times they played a Football Championship Subdivision opponent. Wofford (1-2) managed to hang around for a quarter because of the turnovers by Clay and Brown.
Leading 3-0 on Philip Welch's field goal, Wisconsin scored a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter on Tolzien's 3-yard toss to Lance Kendricks.
Borland followed moments later with the blocked punt, flipping to get his hands on Chris Tommie's kick. Fellow freshman David Gilbert fell on the ball in the end zone to make it 17-0.
On Wofford's next possession, the Terriers failed on fourth-and-4 from their own 26.
"That's one of those calls where if it works, whoopee," Wofford coach Mike Ayers said. "If it doesn't, you're a bonehead. So I'm a bonehead today."
Wisconsin scored three plays later and again on Tolzien's second TD pass to take a 31-0 halftime lead.
Wofford, a Spartanburg, S.C.-based school of 1,400, scored twice in the second half on two runs by Austin Palmer, the first two TDs of his career. The Terriers didn't have top running back Eric Breitenstein because of a knee injury for the game, which marked Wofford's first against a Big Ten opponent.