To continue our summer of football preview content at Bucky’s 5th Quarter, we are counting down Wisconsin’s Top 10 Most Important Players for the 2019 football season. These aren’t necessarily the “best” players on Wisconsin’s team, although you will find many of those listed, but they have been deemed the most important to Wisconsin’s success this year by our motley crew of writers.
There was much debate via email over who should be on the list and it even resulted in Drew going to Owen’s house and ding dong ditching him. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and now we have our final list to present to you.
Here is No. 4 on that list, a rare daily double: quarterbacks Jack Coan and Graham Mertz
2018 stats: Jack Coan- 4 starts, 56 of 93 (60.2%) for 515 yards and 5 touchdowns
Graham Mertz- 3,886 yards and 51 touchdowns at Blue Valley North HS (Kansas), 2018 Kansas Player of the Year, All-American Bowl Selection and MVP
2018 year in review: Jack Coan and Graham Mertz had very different 2018’s. Coan came into the season as the projected back up behind former Badgers starting QB Alex Hornibrook, but after various injuries was thrust into the starting role for the latter half of the season. Coan made four total starts and had moderate success, showing flashes of brilliance at times including a 16-for-24, 160 yard, two touchdown performance at Purdue. While Coan certainly had some positive appearances, he also struggled at times including his showing at Penn State where he went just 9-for-20 for 60 yards and two interceptions. Its fair to say that Coan’s 2018 season was very much up and down.
Mertz on the other hand had a 2018 that seemingly continued to rise. At Blue Valley North High School Mertz dominated the competition in his senior season. He threw for 3,886 yards and 51 touchdowns over the course of 2018. Blue Valley also finished the season as a runner up for the state title after winning the title in Mertz’s junior season. After his high school season Mertz was selected to the Elite 11 Quarterback Competition as well as the All-American Bowl. In that game, Mertz went 7-for-14, for 181 yards and 5 touchdowns which led to him winning the MVP award for his display.
2019 Year in Preview: Look, there’s no question that the 2019 Wisconsin quarterback position is the hottest topic among Badger fans everywhere. It’s the first time in a few years where there truly is a competition at quarterback. We’re still a few weeks away from Fall practice, but I’d have to imagine that Coan has a slight advantage heading into camp. He’s got age and experience on his side and should be in the lead out of the gate.
Graham Mertz could come into practice and dazzle us all, but you don’t give someone the reigns until they earn it. You don’t give a 16 year old a Ferrari until you know he can drive, or something like that, right? In my personal opinion I don’t believe it’s a matter of IF Graham Mertz will get significant playing time, it’s a matter of when. I’m sure many reasonable Wisconsin fans feel the same way, and that’s great! But the fact is we are not the football coach, and therefore we do not make that decision. I believe in Paul Chryst, and I believe he will put the 22 players on the field that he feels give them the best chance to win. You may not agree with those 22, but has a fanbase ever completely agreed with their respected coaches?
Overall, both of these players will be important to Wisconsin in 2019 and both will probably see a lot of the field. In football you often go as far as your quarterback takes you, and even more so at the college level. While the quarterback position is certainly contentious, its also a nice problem to have. It can’t hurt to have two players capable of winning football games. So lets all take a deep breath and realize that both will be important, and that both will contribute to winning football games. In Paul we trust.