The fan base of the Wisconsin football team thought they had secured the answer to their quarterback problems when they landed their highest-rated quarterback recruit in program history, Graham Mertz. Mertz was the 65th ranked player in his class – and 3rd ranked QB per 247 Sports.
Because of this fans expected Mertz to get them over the hump, and help transcend the program to new heights, possibly to the college football playoffs.
Through his first nine starts, the results have varied. Mertz has thrown nine touchdowns along with seven interceptions.
In games against ranked opponents with Mertz under center, the Wisconsin football team is 0-4. In addition, he’s completing under 60% of his passes in those contests with a TD/INT ratio of 1/7 – which is less than ideal. It’s clear he is talented but he is still making some mental mistakes that he’s going to have to overcome.
Through the first two games of 2021, Graham Mertz is completing 66.7% of his passes for 329 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Against Penn State Mertz was responsible for three total turnovers (2 INT’s, 1 fumble) and added two intentional groundings on top of that.
Against Eastern Michigan, he turned in an efficient performance against a much lesser opponent, but surprisingly the staff didn’t ask much of him.
It’s only two games into the season but his QBR is down to 110.0 from the 125.2 mark he finished with last season. In 2021 Graham Mertz is completing 75% of his throws when throwing from a clean pocket. When facing pressure, his completion percentage drops all the way to 35.7%.
You could point to the offensive line still finding their way (allowing pressures on more than 25% of drop-backs), but the truth of the matter is he needs to be better.
Taking a look at the struggles
- Happy feet in the pocket
- Issues on the exchange when handing the ball off
- Locking onto one receiver (one read quarterback at times)
- Throwing touch passes when he needs to let it rip
- Failing to read defenses
I want to make it clear, I am still confident that Graham Mertz can still be a really good quarterback during his career as a part of the Wisconsin football program, possibly even great. Badger fans just need to temper expectations as he continues to grow – he’s only 9 starts into his young career.
The areas in which Mertz has struggled are all very fixable traits that are likely to improve as he garners more experience. The program and this coaching staff are all very much behind him and willing to invest the time needed to help him correct his perceived weaknesses. Be patient because the best of Graham Mertz’s career is still to come.