One day after multiple reports confirmed that Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz tested positive for COVID-19, the Badgers were without another quarterback in practice. Third-string quarterback Chase Wolf was not on the field with the team on Monday, per Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
On Sunday, it was initially reported by the Wisconsin State Journal that Mertz had tested positive for the virus just days after his five-touchdown performance against Illinois. Coan is still awaiting confirmation of his positive test, but Big Ten rules dictate that he’ll have to miss the team’s next three games if he does have COVID-19.
With Jack Coan sidelined indefinitely due to injury, the redshirt sophomore Wolf was in line to take over the starting quarterback role if Mertz had to miss time. Now, the team will really be in a bind if both Mertz and Wolf are unavailable.
Wolf was a three-star recruit and the No. 39 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 signing class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Last fall, Wolf completed his only pass attempt for two yards.
The Badgers do have two more quarterbacks on the roster — junior Danny Vanden Boom and freshman Daniel Wright. Wisconsin’s next game comes this Saturday on the road against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
In Friday night’s win over the Illini, Mertz lit up the Illinois defense in his first start. He threw for 248 yards and five touchdowns while connecting on 20 of his 21 passing attempts. After that win, in which Mertz tied a school record for consecutive completions with 17, the Wisconsin quarterback admitted his team was playing with an edge.
“I was happy with how we played with a little extra chip on our shoulder and a little swag,” Mertz said.
Badgers head coach Paul Chryst was pleased by what he saw from the redshirt freshman in his first career start behind center. Chryst said that it’s tough to know exactly what you’re going to get out of a young quarterback making his first start, but Mertz settled in immediately and found a rhythm with his pass-catchers.
“I thought he had good poise,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said. “I thought he saw the field well. You never know quite how someone is going to react in their first start. I thought he was himself.”