Statement game for Stocco

Wisconsin quarterback ignores critics, makes plays

COLUMBUS—Darrin Charles felt John Stocco took greater command in the huddle.

Brandon Williams said he grew up in the Badgers' 24-13 win at Ohio State Saturday.

Barry Alvarez thought Stocco played his best game, making more plays than he previously had.

Brian White said that the Badgers' starting quarterback played as he has all season, doing the things Wisconsin asked of him and making plays.

Any way Stocco's performance (14-for-25 for 160 yards passing and two touchdowns) is characterized it was remarkable. In the most important game to date in his first season as a starter, Stocco was exceptional.

The sophomore signal caller and Wisconsin's passing game generally have been criticized from many quarters this season but Stocco has not let those echoes deter him.

"He's a tough guy, he's smart, he just goes about his business and he knows that we think he's an excellent player," offensive coordinator White said. "He's not worried about all the whispers and all the noise that starts going around him."

"I don't read anymore," Stocco said. "I used to and I just said, ‘forget this.' I'm not going to win, not everyone is going to like me and I don't care. I found that out early, so now I just don't deal with it."

In only his third year on campus, Stocco has seen the routine play out before. He was redshirting when Brooks Bollinger was a senior and heard the calls for backup Jim Sorgi to replace him. When Sorgi was a senior last season, he also dealt with regular criticism.

"You can't control what the press thinks, you can't control what fans think. If you listen to them we'll be checking him into the insane asylum," quarterbacks coach Jeff Horton said last week. "It has got to be like water off a duck's back. You have to let it go. There hasn't been a quarterback here that anybody's liked."

"I actually talked to (Sorgi)," Stocco said last week. "He said, ‘don't worry about it. You are doing a good job.'"

Saturday, Stocco put on sharp display what he is capable of, taking exactly what the Buckeyes' defense gave him and dictating the flow of the game.

"He really managed the game well, made some great throws, critical third-down throws, avoided sacks again, which everyone all of the sudden wants to figure out why we're so good at minimizing sacks this year," White said. "Well, a lot of it has to do with a smart quarterback that understands what we're trying to do and competed really well and was the difference-maker in the game."

Wisconsin ran the ball 48 times and threw just 24, but the onus was on Stocco to make plays against a defense daring him to do so. He delivered, particularly with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Charles and a 10-yard strike to Jonathan Orr.

"I was impressed. Being in that huddle he was a whole lot more vocal and a whole lot more persistent," Charles said. "He was a lot more confident and I think he really prepared himself for this game and I think as the games continue he is going to continue to get better and build that confidence."

"I kept telling him all throughout the game, ‘you growing up, man,'" Williams said. "‘You come into the Horseshoe for the first time against Ohio State, you are 5-0, but going 6-0 is better. You are growing up.' He did what he had to do. He was in a zone all day."

For the sixth time in six tries, Stocco came away with a win at the Badgers' helm. And no matter what has happened in each game, he is collecting experiences along the way.

"It definitely gives me confidence but I do have to get a lot better," Stocco said. "I've just got to keep getting better each week and this definitely helps, to play better than I have before."

"He'll be seeing things over and over again," Charles said. "It's just an experience playing quarterback. It's an unbelievably hard position to play and nobody can take that away from any quarterback. I think he's doing a great job and he's just getting better and we're winning games regardless."

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