Film room: Graham Mertz has officially put the Big Ten on notice

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Ah, another week brings another Sunday look at how Graham Mertz is progressing throughout his second year as Wisconsin’s starter.

We know his and the team’s struggles through the first four weeks. The offensive line was struggling to protect him, the team played some tremendous pass rushers and, as a result, Mertz had a tough time finding a rhythm and leading the Wisconsin offense down the field.

There have always been signs of the quarterback’s talent. But consistency was needed with how turnovers plagued him and how many opportunities he was unable to capitalize on.

Related: Big Ten Power Rankings after Week 11 — Wisconsin keeps pace

Notice the tense there….it’s in the past. Since the Wisconsin Badgers began their win streak Graham Mertz has gotten better by the week. The offensive line is giving him clean pockets, Braelon Allen is giving him a great run game and the young quarterback is taking leaps forward as a result.

I looked at his performance against Rutgers last week & showed why Badger fans should be excited about his play. Yesterday’s win against Northwestern only furthered everything we saw, and actually led me to the title of this piece.

Wisconsin has a real pass offense and Graham Mertz has officially put the Big Ten on notice. Follow along:

Progression through reads

Nov 6, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) drops back to pass as Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Julius Turner (50) defends during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

One of the common critiques of Mertz’s play is his tendency to lock on to a receiver and fail to progress through his reads.

Well, we can start putting that to bed.

Accuracy

Oct 30, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Mertz was surgical with his ball placement against Rutgers. That continued this week.

Eyes

Nov 6, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) drops back to pass as Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Julius Turner (50) defends during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A quarterback’s best weapon is his eyes. If he can move a safety or hold a linebacker, that’s what often gives a wide receiver the space to get free and catch the football.

He was great in that department yesterday.

Anticipation

Nov 13, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass under pressure from Northwestern Wildcats defensive lineman Sean McLaughlin (97) during the second quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

There were times early in the season when Mertz waited for receiver to break free, instead of delivering the ball to find them coming out of the route.

With using his eyes, this is the biggest area we’ve seen him progress (credit the protection for allowing many of these plays to develop).

We’ve reached the point where great performances aren’t an anomaly. Graham Mertz is getting good, guys, and the Big Ten should be on notice.

Follow BadgersWire

Contact/Follow us @TheBadgersWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion and analysis.

1

1