There was one bright spot in Wisconsin’s 38-17 loss to Michigan

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Wisconsin hasn’t done much but disappoint through the first four weeks of the 2021 season. The team sits at 1-3 with losses to No. 4 Penn State, No. 14 Notre Dame and No. 9 Michigan—two of those losses coming thanks to complete collapses in the second half.

The problematic signs have mostly have come along the offensive line, as the unit has struggled to protect the quarterback, establish a run game and give Paul Chryst a chance to call an effective offensive game.

Quarterback Graham Mertz was also one of those tough spots through the first few weeks (especially against Notre Dame). Saturday against Michigan, however, Mertz showed signs of the great quarterback many expect him to be. In all, his performance may be the only positive piece to come away from the offense’s performance.

Mertz finished 8/15 on the day with 115 yards, 1 touchdown and 9 adjusted yards-per-attempt. He did all of that after starting 0-4 as the offense couldn’t pick up a first down for more than an entire quarter.

Those three second-quarter throws saw Mertz deliver under pressure, place the ball perfectly and anticipate when his receivers would break free. In all honesty, that might be the first time we’ve seen the quarterback do all three of those things since Week 1 vs. Illinois last season.

So where was the game truly lost? When Wisconsin came out of half down 13-10, got the ball and couldn’t keep Michigan from consistently putting Mertz on his back.

It’s unfortunate because Mertz showed flashes of dominance despite poor protection the entire game. Hopefully he is healthy and ready to go this weekend against Illinois, as a few more really good performances could go a long way in his development.

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