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Spring Football 2021: quarterback preview

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It was an up and down year for the quarterback room, but a normal spring should benefit in a big way.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl - Wake Forest v Wisconsin Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

If it seems like there have been more sports than ever this March it is because, well, there have been! What’s one more to add to the pile? The Wisconsin Badgers football team starts their spring practice on Tuesday, March 30 and we are going to start previewing each position group. UW will have 15 practices after having zero last year due to COVID-19.

Instead of the traditional position previews we’ve done in the past, these ones are going to be a little more focused on just a couple of players. We will feature one or two players who we think a full spring practice will really help and focus on one position battle that we think will be important.

Next up, the quarterbacks!

Players who will benefit from a full spring practice schedule

Graham Mertz...next question.

Ok but seriously, everyone in that room and offensive coaching staff will benefit from a normal spring practice but nobody more so than Mertz. After a year of up and down play, spring football will be a Godsend to Mertz as they try to get back to basics.

Last year we saw what Mertz had in terms of ability, but now is the time to put it together consistently. What will help do that? Well, a whole host of things. Firstly, head coach Paul Chryst is taking the quarterback's room back under his wing to go along with the play-calling duties. That in itself should bolster Mertz and the entire quarterback room. Joe Rudolph just wasn’t cutting it, and it was clear there was a disconnect there.

Additionally, a spring season to work with receivers that were either banged up or young should really help Mertz. Danny Davis III is back along with Kendric Pryor and Jake Ferguson. Those connections should really improve after a Spring and Fall camp. Add in more time to work with young guys like Devin Chandler and Chimere Dike and you should have a passing game that is much cleaner in 2021.

Mertz has to shoulder some of the poor play, but there we’re a lot of outside factors that we’re at play here. In addition to the things mentioned above Mertz was still young, with little experience and a pandemic going on...a return to normalcy will do him and them all some good.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl - Wake Forest v Wisconsin Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Key position battle

I could lie to you and say there is a quarterback battle here, but there is not. Wisconsin has their guy in Graham Mertz and they are going with him through thick and thin in 2021. I think the real competition will be who takes the number two reps behind him.

Mertz will be your QB1 but who takes the snaps behind him will be something to watch for. Jack Coan is off to Norte Dame, so the battle lies between Chase Wolf and Danny Vanden Boom. Daniel Wright is also on the roster, but I doubt he’s pushing for QB2 reps. Wolf is the leader in the clubhouse after some brief appearances last year but Vanden Boom could certainly make a run at it as Wolf was shaky in his outings.

I think the big key with this group is will they be able to signal the play into Mertz this year. Last year teams reportedly knew Wisconsin’s signals which in turn caused Mertz to have to run to the sidelines to get the play. Frankly, that’s JV football shit. No division one team should have to be doing that. If Mertz is able to get the calls from the field it will allow him to get to the line earlier, make his reads, and move through his progressions in a timely manner. It seems minor, but that has a really big impact and should improve things if it’s cleaned up as the offense moves back under Chryst.