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The Voice: Wilson fills 'passion bucket' with big numbers

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The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgWisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson has many skills, including dealing with the media. Being a two-sport athlete with a degree in communications, it makes sense.

While it is unlikely he ever will provide the pen and microphone crowd with much in the way of controversial quotes, the man has proven he is capable of having some fun.

After last Saturday's Big Ten opening victory against Nebraska, Wilson spoke with ESPN's Chris Fowler. During the chat, Wilson used the term "passion bucket."

So why is that funny? "Passion bucket" happens to be a pet term for Dan Patrick on his national radio show. From time to time, Patrick or one of his producers will ask a guest to drop that "passion bucket" line in future interviews.  

Turns out one of the "Danettes," Paul Pabst, aka, Paulie was in Madison for the big tilt. On Friday, Pabst said he met Wilson and fellow QB Nate Tice. If the game went well for the home team, "Paulie" asked Wilson to find a way to fit those words into one of his answers. Wilson obliged, and he said it got a little laugh from Fowler, who of course used to be a co-worker with Patrick at ESPN.

I am thinking there is a future in this business for Wilson. Hopefully that is many years down the road. Already a minor league baseball player, his work so far this season seems to be getting him a bit more on the NFL radar as well.

Yes, there is a long way to go, but Wilson, while very humble, also is very confident. The Badger QB told Patrick that he believes he is pro-ready.

At this point of the season, it is difficult to argue with Wilson.  

At this point of the season, it also is interesting to look at Wisconsin's offense.

There are those who believe the Badgers are passing the ball a lot more. The fact is, they are not. Here are the numbers through five games of Scott Tolzien's 2010 season, and Wilson's from this year.

                     ATT         COMP
Wilson           111              83
Tolzien          109              75

Not much difference there, right?  

The difference lies in passing yardage and touchdowns:

                     YDS            TD
Wilson          1391            13
Tolzien           837              5

Keep in mind this time last year the Badgers had the bruising John Clay in the backfield, while receiver Nick Toon missed three full games with an injury.  

Each team has its own set of strengths, and certainly that applies to Wilson and Scott Tolzien. Wilson does things I have not seen from a Wisconsin quarterback, but that Tolzien guy was not half bad either, leading an offense that averaged 41.5 points per game last fall.

The beauty of this team so far is that it has added an extraordinarily gifted player without compromising what has made the Wisconsin system so successful. The Badgers still like to run the ball, and will not hesitate to go into ground and pound mode. Just ask Nebraska's defense. At the same time, the Badgers once again have the ability to hurt the opposition through the air.  

This is not new. In the last few years, the Badgers have been a fairly balanced squad. Yes, it will run the ball more, but since 2007, the rushing vs. passing yardage is in the same ballpark.

Obviously, Wilson is a special talent, and at this early stage of the season, it is fair to throw his name around for post season honors, including the one where the winner gets the trophy with a player using a stiff arm, if you know what I mean.

Yet Wilson is plenty smart enough to understand what makes the Badgers tick. At Wisconsin, he is surrounded by plenty of talent, and an offensive coordinator who knows how to use it.

Perhaps there will be quarterbacks with more eye-popping statistics, but if ever there seems to be a perfect fit, it is Russell Wilson and the Wisconsin Badgers. There is no doubt Wilson makes Wisconsin better. It also can be said that Wisconsin is making Wilson better.

From the outside looking in, it appears everyone in the program understands the formula is working. As long as that remains the case, this combination of talent and the ever-present "passion bucket" could make this a rather difficult group to stop.

1 Comment

Good analysis Matt...I appreciate your articles.

Go Badgers!
Class 1994

ON WISCONSIN