Let’s get this out of the way off the jump: the Wisconsin Badgers football team should NOT fire Paul Chryst as head coach of the football team. He is a good coach, he understands Wisconsin as both a state and a program and his players like him. There are things he needs to work, but he should get to work on them as the head football coach of the Badgers.
::extremely Stephen A. Smith voice:: HOWEVAH
Paul Chryst does need to fire himself as offensive coordinator.
The Badgers offense was, for the most part this season, a major disappointment. The play-calling was often questionable and unimaginative, the adjustments were few and far between and the execution was lacking. Let’s take a look at Wisconsin’s offensive rankings in the Big Ten this season:
- No. 8 in total yards, 377.5 ypg
- No. 13 in passing yards, 162.1 ypg
- No. 2 in rushing yards, 215.4 ypg
- No. 9 in scoring, 25.8 ppg
Let’s now compare that to last season, when everyone agreed that Joe Rudolph should be fired into the sun as offensive coordinator:
- No. 12 in total yards, 345.6 ypg
- No. 13 in passing yards, 181.0 ypg
- No. 7 in rushing yards, 164.6 ypg
- No. 9 in scoring, 25.1 ppg
That’s, uh, not that much better!
Wisconsin’s rushing attack improved greatly this season. Transfer RB Chez Mellusi was a good pickup in the offseason and the decision to make 4-star ATH Braelon Allen a tailback obviously paid off. You are left wondering, however, why Allen wasn’t given any carries earlier in the season when the Badgers were sputtering to a 1-3 start.
The passing offense is dreadful. QB Graham Mertz didn’t improve much, if at all, and was regularly put in unfavorable positions via playcalling. Unless Literally Russell Wilson is under center, the Badgers aren’t going to win by throwing the ball a bunch.
Mertz finished the regular season with a 58.7 completion percentage and 10 interceptions compared to nine passing touchdowns. Of all FBS quarterbacks who averaged at least 14 attempts per game or played 75% of their teams’ snaps, there were 85 who had a higher completion percentage. His adjusted passing yards per attempt (which takes into account TDs and INTs) of 5.8 was bested by 99 FBS quarterbacks. 95 QBs, including Spencer freaking Petras had a higher QB Rating than Mertz.
While Chryst can’t go out there and make the throws for Mertz, some of that comes back to playcalling and development...both of which fall under the purview of the offensive coordinator/QB guru.
Lest you think the advanced stats will be kinder to Chryst’s offense, here are the SP+ ratings from the last two seasons:
The Badgers need a new voice on offense and some new ideas. Chryst has, in recent coaching cycles, brought in assistants from outside Wisconsin’s circle of trust but the time is now for one of the three most important coaches to be a non-Badger. Chryst needs to show he has the decision-making capabilities to make this team better and get them back to winning the division, and beating Minnesota, with regularity.
Chryst needs to fire himself.