Madison, Wisconsin — Wisconsin has a new offensive coordinator and a mostly new group of receivers this season.
The Badgers could also have a new version of quarterback Graham Mertz.
After throwing more interceptions than last year’s touchdown passes, Mertz improved efficiency and made fewer mistakes in his third season as a starter. Mertz ranks fifth among his quarterbacks in his subdivision every bowl in his rating for passers after he finished 92nd in that category a year ago.
“I think (I’m) solid,” Martz said. “It means nothing unless you build it. That’s what I’m excited about.”
He will face arguably the biggest test of his career on Saturday, when Wisconsin (2-1) opens the Big Ten schedule with third-placed Ohio (3-0). . According to the FanDuel Sportsbook, Wisconsin has lost their last eight matches against Ohio State, and this time he’s the underdog by 17.5 points.
Mertz will need to play the best game of his career for Wisconsin to have a chance. His teammates and coaches love how he’s looked so far.
“He trusts himself,” Wisconsin coach Paul Christ said. “He trusts what he sees. He trusts the people around him.”
Mertz’s progress remains difficult to measure given how Wisconsin has gone through the season so far.
Wisconsin has two lopsided victories against Illinois in the championship subdivision program and winless New Mexico, one of the worst FBS teams in the nation. Mertz played well against Washington State, but the Badgers lost 17-14 despite having a nearly 17-point advantage.
The Ohio State game is a better indication of how far Mertz has come.
Still, Mertz’s improved numbers cannot be ignored.
Mertz completed 71% of his passes, had six touchdowns and two interceptions. Last year, Mertz completed his 56.8% of passes with six interceptions and his one touchdown in his first three games of the season.
“The only[statistic]that really matters is the win rate,” says Mertz. “When you’re winning, you’re playing good football. Things like that go hand in hand. For me, that’s all I’m really focused on.”
Mertz is making these strides while playing under his third offensive coordinator in the same years as former Baltimore Ravens assistant Bobby Engram. Christo served as his own coordinator last season. Jo Rudolph, currently Virginia Tech’s offensive his line his coach, took the role in 2020.
Wisconsin remains a run-oriented team under the Engram, but the Badgers have also shown a willingness to air it from time to time.Mertz averaged 11.2 yards per pass attempt, ranking third among all FBS players. I’m here.
“I think he’s getting a little more opportunity to throw the ball down the field than he did last year,” running back Braylon Allen said before adding one more factor to Mertz’s improvement. I feel like he’s changed himself just by his approach throughout the season, and we’re seeing it now.”
Wisconsin’s offensive changes didn’t end with the staff.
Chimere Dike is the only wideout on Wisconsin’s 2022 roster to have three or more passes last season, with 19 receptions for 272 yards and a touchdown. The Badgers added his UCLA transfer Keontes Lewis and hoped for a breakthrough season with some returning players who failed to play a major role last season.
Martz believed that getting to know them off the field would pay off on Saturday.
“You can run routes here all winter, all spring, all summer, but you’ll never really know them unless you’re golfing, eating out, hanging out, grilling with them. No,” Martz said.
Dyke had 106 receiving yards and a touchdown against Illinois. Redshirting Skyler last year, his bell hit New York in his Mexico State game where he tallied 108 yards and his two touchdowns. Lewis also reached the end zone against New Mexico State. The Badgers’ new starting tight end Clay Cundiff scored twice against Washington State.
They have lived up to Mertz’s leadership.
“He’s always been someone who does his business the right way, but I think he’s a little more vocal,” Dyke said. It’s full, I think everyone is eating it.
https://www.morningjournal.com/2022/09/19/ohio-state-test-gives-mertz-chance-to-show-how-far-hes-come/ Ohio State test gives Wisconsin QB Martz a chance to show how far he’s come – Morning Journal