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Post spring practice thoughts: quarterbacks

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A look at some of the news and notes from spring practice with the quarterbacks.

Graham Mertz controlling the offense during spring practice.
Kelli Steffes; UW Athletics Communications

The Wisconsin Badgers football team ended their spring practice period on Friday. After missing out on spring practice last year, having an extra 15 sessions proved to be extremely useful for Paul Chryst’s group. The Badgers didn’t have a spring game, or anything like that, but we were still able to glean a decent amount of information from the open practices and media availability.

Projected Depth Chart

Starter: Graham Mertz
Backup: Chase Wolf
Third string: Danny Vanden Boom
Hype man/giant with a headset on: Daniel Wright

Kelli Steffes; UW Athletics Commuications

Spring Standouts

It was hard to get a gauge on who really stood out in the QB room this spring. With the departure of Jon Budmayer the media did not get to interview a traditional position coach for the quarterback room, and instead got to hear from each signal caller. That being said, it sounds like Graham Mertz has developed, gotten better, and gotten healthier.

Mertz noted in his conversation with the media that he was battling a shoulder injury for much of 2020. Kudos to him for keeping that hush hush, and the quarterback added that is was not an excuse for the play that was below his standards.

Mertz also mentioned that he has really worked on his footwork this off-season and that the game has really slowed down for him from last year to now. That will be key for Mertz as he looks to not only improve his game, but also shoulder more of the load offensively. The running back room is banged up currently, so a passing attack could be more prevalent in 2021 but that starts with Mertz being comfortable being THE GUY leading the offense.

Questions we still have

I think the big question here is what the offense might look like, and how it will change now that head coach Paul Chryst has taken over as the quarterback's coach and resumed play-calling duties. 2020 was a disaster offensively with guys hurt and out of sync. Even the play-calling was in shambles with Mertz having to run to the sideline on every play for the latter half of the season after it appeared Wisconsin’s signals had been decoded. That can’t happen and will need to be cleaned up in 2021. I believe it will be.

Mertz noted that the verbiage between Chryst and Budmayer has not changed all that much, which shouldn’t cause any delay in his development. If anything, I would expect a much cleaner and crisper offense in 2021. There were a lot of outside factors in play last year, and the hope is that with a healthy receiving core, a stronger play-caller, and a more developed quarterback that the offense will not only get better but take serious strides forward.