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Wisconsin football fall camp 2019: quarterbacks preview

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Who’s taking the snaps under center this fall?

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Wisconsin vs Miami Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Fall camp for the Wisconsin Badgers has gotten underway so it is time for us to speculate wildly as to what the divvying up of reps during practice means for the depth chart come August 30th. Over the next two weeks we will be previewing each position group so that you’ll have an idea of what to expect once the season actually kicks off.

We’ve looked at all other positions, saving the burning topic in all Badger fan’s mind for last. So without further ado, lets talk about the ever important position of QB1, AND 2, AND 3.

By almost any metric, the game of football’s most important position is the quarterback. The offense runs through him, he’s got to know the plays, be the leader, yada yada yada. All that is true, and it’s a position that Wisconsin has had some good, bad and ugly play over the course of the last decade. However, hope springs eternal in 2019 as the Badgers look to a crop of new faces to help stabilize, and hopefully advance, the QB position.

2018 by the numbers

Alex Hornibrook: Nine starts, 122-for-205 (59.5%) on passing attempts, 1,532 yards with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions (transferred to Florida State for 2019)

Jack Coan: Four starts, 56-for-93 (62%) on passing attempts, threw for 515 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions

Chase Wolf: Redshirted in 2018, was a three star recruit out of Saint Xavier High School in Ohio

Danny Vanden Boom: Played in three games, made one pass attempt for a touchdown against New Mexico (what a QBR!)

Graham Mertz: High school senior in 2018, four star recruit out of Blue Valley North High School, Elite 11 quarterback, and 2018 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, numbers were good

The projected starter

Alright are you sitting down?

Take a deep breath. (Editor’s note: better make it two)

Jack Coan will likely be the starter week 1 against South Florida. The Badgers have not officially announced this decision, but every indication in practice shows me and other media members that Coan is going to be the guy to start.

He has taken more than half of the reps with the first team in practice, and in my opinion has looked strong in doing so. Coan appears to have put on a good amount of muscle this off-season, and the velocity on his throws have seen an uptick. He appears poised in the huddle and has taken care of the football so far.

To me, he’s the guy for week 1 and I think that is the correct decision. He’s the only QB with any real game experience, and I think he would have to do a lot to lose the QB1 role right now.

The Reserves

As we said above, every indication that the media has seen shows us that Coan is QB1 to start. The QB2 position is a race that could be much closer. Chase Wolf and Graham Mertz have split most of the secondary reps, and each guy has shown some flashes but also made mistakes.

Overall, I think Wolf has had a solid spring and showed a very good command of the offense. He does not have much game experience, but neither do the other two in the QB room. Wolf has a little bit of a funky delivery, but his touch and accuracy has been impressive despite the wonky arm motion.

Mertz is obviously one of the most highly touted prospects to ever grace Wisconsin locker room at the quarterback position, but one thing that can really hurt a kid’s development is throwing him out there before he is ready.

From what I have seen, I don’t know if he is quite ready yet. Mertz has been with the team since spring, but he’s still got a lot to try and pick up in a very short amount of time. In each practice i’ve seen, Mertz has made some great throws and you can see the talent he has when you see the ball he throws.

There’s no doubt that Mertz has the skill set to be a good quarterback, but the position is so much more than that. Mertz has missed some throws, and made some mistakes, but he’s also made a few more aggressive attempts than the others. At the end of the day you have to simply ask yourself what you want, need and expect out of the QB position both now and going forward.

Final Take

The position preview for quarterbacks is a little different than the other groups, so I am just going to give it to you straight. Sure, I could go over the stats and numbers and recruiting rankings but at the end of the day Wisconsin is going to go with the guy that they trust to both run the offense right, and take care of the football.

That guy right now is Jack Coan.

2019 Quarterback Depth Chart

Position QB1 QB2 QB3 QB4
Position QB1 QB2 QB3 QB4
Player Jack Coan Chase Wolf Graham Mertz Danny Vanden Boom
Class Junior RS Freshman Freshman RS Sophomore
247 Composite Ranking 3-star 3-star 4-star 3-star

Could that change in the coming weeks? Of course, but until we see them in game action I don’t think we can clamor for those changes. Coan has put in the work and has the experience to be that guy to start. If he is careful with the ball, and makes productive throws, I think he can be a very solid option for the Badgers in 2019.

The positive for Wisconsin is that they essentially have five weeks to make a final decision. We’re three weeks from kickoff against South Florida and on paper that game looks a little dicey, but the Bulls lost six straight games coming into this season. I think the Badgers will handle their business there with a heavy dose of Jonathan Taylor, and then you’ve got a poor Central Michigan team and a bye week to follow.

That essentially gives head coach Paul Chryst and company the opportunity to get each guy reps, in game, should they choose to do so. Essentially, you have three weeks to figure out who’s your guy before taking on Michigan. By then, you need to have a decision made and a guy to go with. I personally have full trust in Chryst to make that decision, and I have full trust that he is going to put what he feels are the 11 best players out on that field.