It’s safe to say that Graham Mertz’s main backup quarterback Chase Wolf hasn’t panned out. While he has seen only limited action, there is plenty of evidence to draw this conclusion. Back in 2019, Mertz passed him on the depth chart despite just learning the system and Wolf being in the program longer. Whenever Wolf has seen action, it has been mostly in garbage time. I believe sophomore signal-caller Deacon Hill could push Chase Wolf to be Graham Mertz’s backup.

When the Badgers took on the Michigan Wolverines; it was the first time we got a non-garbage time look at Chase Wolf. Graham Mertz went down with a chest injury in the third quarter forcing Wisconsin to put him in the game. His outing overall was ugly. He completed just three passes on eight attempts for 52 yards with one touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. The touchdown didn’t come until near the end of the game. The Badgers would be blown out 38-17 and the aerial attack was grounded for most of the second half.

Besides the long appearance against Michigan, Wolf was used sparingly in 2021. He mopped up against Eastern Michigan, Northwestern, and Rutgers. In those appearances, he was mostly unproductive. He finished the 2021 season in unspectacular fashion throwing just one touchdown compared to two interceptions. He also has more interceptions in his career than he does touchdown passes. While he’s had limited opportunities to make an impact, I never got the sense the coaching staff fully trusted him.

Deacon Hill is the quarterback on the roster with the most upside. He was a four-star recruit according to rivals.com. Hill has been in the system for a year now and I think he’s ready for the opportunity to try to crack the two-deep. He has a powerful arm and can throw the deep pass with accuracy. Hill has a quick release and can change speeds as well. He also brings great pocket presence and knows where the pass-rush is coming from. This past season, Deacon Hill has been working hard at becoming more athletic and making plays outside the pocket.

I don’t believe Wisconsin has had that kind of athlete at the quarterback position since Russell Wilson. Most of the time Wisconsin quarterbacks are your classic pocket passers with little mobility. Hill has the potential to bring new elements to the Wisconsin offense. The amount of upside he brings should make it very tempting to give him some snaps. All the tools that he has are something we don’t get with Chase Wolf.

In the era of the transfer portal, the Badgers have to be careful with how long they hold Hill back. It makes no sense for the Badgers to keep Chase Wolf in front of Deacon Hill. After all, Wolf has been passed over by the coaching staff multiple times. The reason he was on the backup this year was that Danny Vanden Boom has had very little experience and Hill was just learning the offense. Badger freshmen tend to take a year to develop before seeing the field. This means by default; the Badgers had no choice but to name Wolf as Mertz’s backup.

With a year in Paul Chryst’s offense, Hill is now ready to challenge Wolf for the top backup spot. I believe he has more talent than Wolf and is the future of the Badgers quarterback position. Chase Wolf has reached his ceiling as a quarterback and the Badgers need to understand that. A player only gets better if given opportunities to make an impact. The last thing the Badgers want is for Deacon Hill to become the “one that got away.”

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Eric Katz

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