Media huddled in circles last Friday, enveloping each Wisconsin Badgers quarterback in separate sessions after the conclusion of the program’s 12th spring practice. Reporters, beat writers and television journalists asked questions regarding each signal caller’s own development, what they see out of the others in the position group, and of course, the competition for the starting spot.
That included rising redshirt sophomore Danny Vanden Boom, who along with junior Jack Coan, redshirt freshman Chase Wolf and true freshman Graham Mertz, has worked this spring to hopefully earn significant reps for fall camp. Spring ball ends after UW’s 15th session on Friday afternoon, and with that, we will not see the quarterbacks until late summer.
Here are the highlights from his time with the media.
On how he was feeling after a taking a hit during the live scrimmage portion of practice
“Good. I hadn’t been hit in a long, long time. When [Wisconsin head coach Paul] Chryst said that we were live, I knew that there was an opportunity. I saw the ‘Lonesome’ signal, and to be honest, I was a little bit surprised. I had them give it to me again just to make sure I saw it right, but it was really exciting.
“Honestly, the edge didn’t collapsed as hard as it had in the past so they played it pretty well and got a pretty good pop, but it felt good. I have no problems now.”
**For those that do not know, the ‘Lonesome’ call is essentially a quarterback keeper. For example, Nate Tice received that play call on his touchdown run against Indiana in 2010. It is a call that has been used in the past in Paul Chryst’s offense.
How the game experience last year helped in preparation for this season and more this year and spring
“I mean every bit of experience, whether it’s a rep in practice or in the game, is very valuable. Particularly in that game setting, we play games in high school, and it’s just a totally different atmosphere when you’re here with 80,000-plus at Camp Randall. I know they starts to dwindle out a little bit towards the end of the blowouts. But it was really fun, a good experience. Good to get a couple of snaps under my belt. Any reps are good reps.”
Where he feels he has grown the most since last season and this spring
“I would say probably just continuing to learn the game. I feel like my feet over time have just kind of naturally improved, gotten a little bit quicker. Early on I was real long, but my timing has improved, but I would attribute that to just having a better knowledge, a better grasp of the overall playbook, feeling more comfortable out there. Just going out there and maximizing the reps when I get an opportunity.”
If he gives himself a chance for the starting quarterback job in fall camp if he does his job well
“Honestly, I haven’t thought too far ahead into the horizon. Again, just trying to maximize the reps that I do get. Focusing on what I can control, and like I said, earning reps and maximizing those reps and seeing where that puts me come fall camp and come next season.”
On the fact all four quarterbacks getting reps and if it brings the position group closer together while competing
“It’s a really tight group, a bunch of good eggs in the room. [laughs] It’s just a really good group of guys and I know a lot of people probably say this around the country, but it’s just a really, really tight group and there’s nobody else that I want to be working alongside. We learn a lot from each other, like you said, a lot of guys getting reps. It’s valuable to get reps yourself, but it’s also improtant to make sure you’re learning from other guys’ reps and going there.
“It’s just a really good, down to earth, humble group of guys, and I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work alongside them.”
How much he has leaned on Coan and what the junior brings to the QB room as the “veteran.”
“Obviously, Jack has got the most experience. He really dives into the film, does a great job of understanding the game. He’s just a great resource for all of us really, and like I said, there’s a bunch of good dudes in the room, and it really is. It’s a good group of dudes. We all care about each other. It’s ultimately the most important thing is to put a quarteabrck out there on Saturday afternoons that will give us a chance to win. The addition of Graham, obviously that’s really important from a competition level. He makes everybody better, adds to the value of the room.
“We just got to put out on Saturday afternoon a guy that is going to be able to get the job done, and Jack does a great job of ensuring that. Whether it’s him or whoever, he helps to make sure that we’re doing our job in the backfield there.”
If he noticed the hype with Mertz
“Yes and no. I mean everybody talked about Graham coming in, but I don’t have really any like social media. I mean I have my accounts but I deleted all the apps so I’m not really involved there.”
“With a guy like Graham, you hear about it from friends, whoever. There’s a buzz, and I understand why there’s a buzz. He’s very physically gifted, and he’s really off to a good start learning the playbook book, and he’s rolling.”