“It was definitely fun,” Mertz said after the game. “I attribute this to Coach (John) Badmayar and Coach (Paul) Crystal, we took a ton of time in a meeting and really sorted out the game plan and knew what we were doing and gave me the ability to Trusted. Execute and I think there are definitely some stuff we need to clean. Too much stuff we can clean. ”
Mertz, a redshirt freshman, was moved up to an early role after a non-contact injury to his leg for practice and foot surgery by Jack Cone. It was the first career start for Mertz, and his five touchdown passes set the record for the most touchdown passes in a game in 2003 with Jim Sorgi and 1993 Darrell Bevell.
“I think he had a good poem, he seemed to have seen the field well. You never know how someone has reacted to his debut.” “I felt that he is himself and you applaud. I thought that was a good plan by the offensive coaches and he was able to execute it.”
Wisconsin could not make its usual effective run from its run game, with Garrett Groshe as the leading ranger for the Badgers 70 yards and no touchdown runs. But Mertz picked up the slack that opened the game by completing his first 17 passes.
An incompletion in the game was a dropped pass from Groshek on third and 19 in the third quarter. Mertz said it was his fault that he needed to run the ball back quickly and the two joked after the drop passed. sport.
Tait and Jake Ferguson were their favorite targets with receptions on the night and five of three touchdowns. Ferguson was second in the yards last season with 407, behind Quintez Cephas, who is now in the NFL.
Those three touchdowns are tied for the most games from a Wisconsin tight end, with Owen Daniels in 2005 and Garrett Graham in 2009.
“The baby’s smooth, the baby’s definitely smooth,” Ferguson said. “He was smiling cheekily after that first touchdown. He knew, and everyone in that hurry knew, that we were rolling. It’s just terrible to see him.”
Ferguson said that at one point in the game Wisconsin ran the same four plays with success against Illinois and Mertz showed some degree of confidence, joking and keeping his teammates focused.
Mertz’s performance caught the attention of many, including Kansas City head quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tweeted, “That man @ GrahamHartz5 is going crazy tonight!”
Despite that national focus and breakout game, Mirtz is not celebrating yet, knowing that it is only a game and there is still a lot of football left.
“I haven’t checked my phone yet, but it’s great to hear from them and that means a ton.” “But I’m happy now that the people in the locker room are pumping right now and we’ll keep building on it.”