Wisconsin could run out of quarterbacks soon [UPDATED]

The way things are going for Wisconsin, one of these guys might have to suit up at QB soon.
The way things are going for Wisconsin, one of these guys might have to suit up at QB soon.
Image: (Getty Images)

The Big Ten wrapped up Week One. Yay!

Wisconsin may already be down to their fourth-string quarterback by Saturday.

Wait what?

Yup. It’s hard to socially distance in the quarterback room. Or the offensive line room. Or ...


Over the weekend Wisconsin starting quarterback Graham Mertz tested positive for the coronavirus. Mertz’s backup, Chase Wolf, was not seen at practice Monday, and has also reportedly tested positive.

Updated on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 at 6:05 p.m.: On Tuesday, Graham Mertz recorded another positive COVID test and will have to sit out a minimum of 21 days in accordance with the Big Ten COVID policy. The team is still awaiting second test results on Wolf.

Heading into the 2020 season, Jack Coan was assumed to keep his starting job as the Badgers quarterback. He took Wisconsin to a Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl appearance last year. But Coan was ruled out indefinitely in early October after foot surgery.

It’s the 21-day policy Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst seems to have no problem with. He said the conference told its member schools that their COVID rules would be “more conservative,” but “if that is something that’s in the best interest of everyone involved, then I completely support it.”

If Wolf isn’t able to play that would leave Wisconsin with their fourth and fifth string QBs for the next three weeks, against Nebraska (10/31), Purdue (11/7) and Michigan (11/14).

Danny Vanden Boom, a redshirt junior who’s attempted just one pass in his college career (a three-yard TD), would start assuming Wolf is out and Wisconsin is allowed to play this next game.


The Big Ten is late to the party, but college football has already seen a number of teams postpone games due to team outbreaks. Notre Dame, Florida, BYU, Baylor and others have been among the schools who have had to reschedule games.

Unfortunate as it may be for college football fans who want to see more of Mertz, who lit up Friday night with 5 TDs, it’s not surprising to see COVID-19 continue to infect college teams without a bubble and in hotspot states. The University of Wisconsin checks both boxes.


College campuses, too, have become hotbeds for disease. UW has one of the highest college caseloads in the nation (3,258) since the pandemic began. And last week, Michigan gave students an emergency stay at home order.

Whoever Wisconsin plays at QB this weekend is not relevant to college football. The show will go on and matchups will continue to be rearranged like a game of Tetris until conferences physically run out of players: just like Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly saw coming months ago (that’s not a compliment).