It’s time to give a collective “I’m sorry” to Jack Coan. Why is this the case you might ask? He’s certainly had a great season and the fans certainly seem to recognize the success he’s had up to this point. If anything, we should thank him for the massive contribution to the offense he’s made this year.
So why the apology? It has something to do with the man hailed as a “Kansas Jesus” in that he was the savior of a Wisconsin offense bogged down in old-fashioned run strategies that nearly brought one back to the days of leather helmets.
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I’m talking about Graham Mertz. The four-star quarterback is surrounded in enough hype to make you think Russel Wilson himself was reincarnated as a Kansas native with the sole purpose of returning the Badgers back to their former glory.
The Badger Herald was no bystander to this rampant excitement at the news of Mertz’s commitment and his arrival in Madison. Just to get a taste, here’s some examples of what was printed by the Herald about Mertz.
A subhead of an article published last April read, “Can quarterback Graham Mertz bring Wisconsin to the promised land?”
In discussing spring training, another article read, “Mertz may have the greatest expectations on his shoulders of any Wisconsin football player in recent memory, but he seemed to pass the first test by pleasing the Badger faithful with a strong showcase Saturday.”
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I mean, come on, the guy hadn’t even played a snap for the Badgers, yet he was surrounded by the greatest expectations of anyone on the team? I point out these absurdities not because I saw through them at the time, but because I now find it ridiculous how quickly everyone forgot about Coan.
Coming into the season, Coan had more game experience and total time with the offense than Mertz and, despite an overall disappointing season, really played pretty well given the situation he was thrown into.
During the five games Coan played in 2018, he managed to complete a total of 60% of his passes for an average of 118 yards a game. While that total yardage number is nothing to gawk at, it’s important to remember he did not play the entirety of the five games he participated in last year.
Furthermore, Jonathan Taylor was being handed the ball an extremely high number of times each game as the offense reeled from the loss of Hornibrook in the middle of the season.
Despite the fact Coan had shown himself to be a viable option in a system that was still primarily built around the talents of Jonathan Taylor, he was all but tossed aside in the minds of fans once Mertz made the decision to bring his talents to Madison.
Don’t get me wrong, Mertz is still an extremely strong talent who the Badgers are lucky to have as an option for quarterback moving forward. Throwing a record-breaking five touchdowns at the Army All-American game, as well as earning the MVP trophy for that game, is no small feat. Does this mean he was going to be the answer at quarterback for a power five offense with Coan sitting as a viable option?
Probably not. I don’t think it’s out of turn to say the hype surrounding Mertz got a bit out of hand. It’s entirely possible that writing this piece is solely cathartic as I force myself to get over the fact we have to wait at least another year to see Mertz in action at the helm of the offense.
This realization was in the making since the beginning of the season. It culminated when Coan dropped an incredible 18 of 21 performance for 180 yards against Michigan State. Coan was methodical in his dissection of the Michigan State defense, something I doubt Mertz would be able to do as a first-year starter in collegiate football.
What is this realization? That it’s time to say “I’m sorry” to Coan. Sorry for ignoring you during the offseason, sorry for hyping up a quarterback you hadn’t had a chance to beat out yet and, most importantly, sorry for discounting #JackyHeisman as simply a funny joke within the team.