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Wisconsin football: the quarterback room talks to the media

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Graham Mertz apparently was suffering through a shoulder injury for much of last year! That, actually, explains a lot.

UW Athletics Communications

We are now a couple of practices in to Wisconsin’s 2021 season and the quarterbacks sat down with the media via Zoom on Friday morning to discuss how practice is going so far, the difference between former QB coach Jon Budmayr and current QB coach Paul Chryst and what they’ve spent the offseason focused on in order to be better prepared for the upcoming season.

All four quarterbacks, Graham Mertz, Chase Wolf, Danny Vanden Boom and Daniel Wright spoke and here are some highlights from their discussions.

Daniel Wright

  • On weight gain: “Just to clear the air, I haven’t quite gained that much weight...I was about 235 when I got to campus, but I have gained about 20 pounds just not as much as everyone was reporting.”

“It was all good weight, [the training staff] were happy about it.”

  • On potential position change: “If they feel that I’d be better off at a different position...I’m all about it. It has allowed me to be a little more explosive, it hasn’t really affected me much as a quarterback.”
  • What is he learning at UW compared to back home: “A lot of the things I’ve learned so far is how to be a professional...how to balance school, how to balance film study. I think those guys do a really good job and I just try to follow their lead.”
  • On what he has learned from Graham Mertz, “What Graham does really well is in the locker room, just relating with guys. He’s always walking around the locker room asking guys how they’re doing. He has great relationships around the team.”

Graham Mertz

  • What was the biggest challenge last year with all the injuries to pass catchers: “It all comes down to execution. We’ve only had two spring practices but its going to be a completely different team. Guys are playing with confidence and flying around making plays. From where we were last year to where we are this year, completely different.”
  • On Chryst vs. Budmayr: “The verbiage hasn’t really changed a lot.” The attention to detail has been what Chryst is emphasizing, according to Mertz and understanding how every play works from every position, even in the run game.
  • On shoulder injury: “I’m not the one to sit here and make excuses to how I played. Having a little banged up shoulder doesn’t justify losing three games an playing like that.” Also mentions that he was getting cortisone shots during the week.
  • Mertz notes that he worked hard on his footwork this offseason.
  • “The game has slowed down a ton. Having spring ball to just grow and learn and make some mistakes and then learn and move on. This spring is going to be big time for me.”
  • On being the starter for the first time in spring ball: “The way I try to carry myself as a leader and a QB on the team is how can I be as close with everyone on the team as I can. Not being on your phone, just engaging with guys in the locker room. It’s fun to learn about people and see how you can relate to them.”

Chase Wolf

  • On what he learned as the primary backup quarterback: “I think I learned to stay ready at all times. I can improve on understanding the situation in the game.”
  • Mentions that the game has slowed down greatly for him and he feels more prepared this year than he did last year.
  • Notes that he worked on his arm strength and that he has gotten quicker. He says that he understands the playbook and the game of football a lot better.
  • Calls the rest of the quarterbacks (twice!) “good eggs.” Love this verbiage.

Danny Vanden Boom

  • On goals for his final season in Madison, “First and foremost my goal is to be ready to play. Take every rep that I get an maximize it.”
  • “The biggest area I’ve seen Graham take strides is mentally.”
  • Difference with Chryst as QB coach: “It does seem so far that the emphasis has been a little bit more holistic. Maybe less focused on progressions and defensive coverage recognition and maybe more so on formations and the run game...so far the emphasis has been a little bit different but both coaches are incredible.”