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Wisconsin football: Graham Mertz speaks to the media for the first time as QB1.

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Quarterback’s coach Jon Budmayr, backup QB Chase Wolf and third stringer Danny Vanden Boom also joined the Zoom with the media.

Central Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Late Thursday morning, the entire quarterback’s room (except for injured starter Jack Coan) joined a Zoom call with the Wisconsin Badgers media contingent. Coach Jon Budmayr and his proteges Chase Wolf, Danny Vanden Boom and Graham Mertz each answered questions for about 15 minutes and offered some insight as to how they were coping with the loss of Coan, potential breakout wide receivers and Mertz’s ascension to the starting gig.

I would first like to touch on “it.” I don’t exactly know how to define “it,” but whatever “it” is...Mertz has. The dude is effortlessly charming and comfortable with a Zoom full of crotchety jags (except for Jake, he’s an angel), answering all of our questions thoughtfully and with confidence.

He seems wise beyond his years and sounds like he would command a huddle with a few words. Budmayr even said “Graham has a great presence in the huddle” during his availability. Every coach needs the quarterback to be the unquestioned leader of the offense, but they would also want the quarterback to be the unquestioned leader of the whole team. Mertz looks, and sounds, like a guy who will be standing in the middle of the locker room hyping everyone up before the game.

Anyways, now that we got the gushing out of the way, let’s dive in to what else Mertz, Budmayr, Wolf and Vanden Boom had to say.

It is important to note what sort of strategic work the team has been doing during practice and Mertz pulled back the curtain a bit for us.

While we are making jokes here, one very important thing that Coan did as starter was to limit turnovers. Budmayr said that was by design and it is something that Mertz, Wolf and Vanden Boom have to take seriously.

One area that will help Mertz with ball security is, uh, his brain. Vanden Boom mentioned that Mertz had improved there while also touching on Mertz’s God given ability.

Here are some other notes from the availability:

  • All three quarterbacks mentioned freshman WR Chimere Dike as a player to watch. They all said he’s smart, athletic and asks a lot of precocious questions. The word “stud” was even thrown out.
  • Coan was spoken of almost reverentially by everyone on the call. Budmayr noted that he “love(s) that kid,” and that Coan was the first one at practice on Sunday even after being hurt on Saturday. Vanden Boom said that Coan is now basically an additional coach for them. Wolf repeatedly said that Coan is “our leader” and “our guy.”
  • Other young skill players that were mentioned by the QBs include freshman WR Devin Chandler and newly converted TE (from OLB) Jaylan Franklin.
  • Budmayr said that the plans for the offense haven’t really changed with Coan out but that Mertz (and the others) need to develop “that muscle memory” before they’ll be fully confident under center.