The focal point of the Badgers offense for coaches, opponents, team members, fans, and media is the quarterback position. Graham Mertz returns as the undisputed starter for the Badgers heading into the season with Jack Coan transferring to Notre Dame. This spring, Mertz should be able to make strides after what was a tale of two players in 2020.

Oct 23, 2020; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2020 season, Mertz had more hype than Wisconsin has ever seen at the position since Russell Wilson. Mertz started off the year well but struggled the rest of the way. Part of that struggle was due to team-wide coronavirus outbreaks (he caught it too), causing them to cancel games. He didn’t have an offseason to get ready and various injuries to receivers all factored into his struggles. He was also thrust into the starting role due to returning starter, Jack Coan hurting his foot in practice.

Make no mistake, Graham Mertz has the talent to be the next great quarterback for the Badgers. This talent was on display in the first two games of last season; he even won Big Ten Co-Offensive Player and Freshman of the Week. He’ll also have both Kendric Pryor, Danny Davis, and Jake Ferguson all returning; giving Mertz plenty of weapons to work with. Davis and Mertz appeared to have strong chemistry when they were on the field together.

If Mertz goes down, Chase Wolfe and Danny Vanden Boom would be the next guys up. Wolfe will most likely be second on the depth chart behind Mertz. He has attempted nine passes in his career at Wisconsin. Although Wolfe has proven to be useful in relief, he’s still raw as a passer and has a lot of work to do. Vanden Boom was nearly called into action until Nebraska was canceled. He hasn’t had much playing time, so it remains to be seen if he can execute the offense.

With a full offseason to prepare, returning weapons, an abundance of potential and more confidence, the tools are in place for Graham Mertz to be a successful quarterback. His success hinges on the Badgers’ ability to run an efficient offense.

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Eric Katz

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