Mertz makes history in his first start for the Badgers

Graham Mertz ties the program record for touchdowns in a game (5) and consecutive completions (17) whil setting a new record for completion percentage at .952
Recurring 10 p.m. news recording
Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 11:16 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Even as the most highly recruited quarterback in Wisconsin football history, Graham Mertz exceeded all expectations in his first career start for the Badgers.

The former 4-star recruit out of Blue Valley North in the Kansas City, Missouri area completed 20-of-21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns while completing his first 17 passes of the game.

“It was definitely fun,” Mertz said after the No. 14 Badgers 45-7 win over Illinois.

The .952 completion percentage surpassed Alex Hornibrook’s .947 effort against BYU in 2017 for anew program mark while the five touchdowns tied Darrell Bevell in 1993 and Jim Sorgi in 2003 as single-game highs.

Mertz’s 17 straight completions tied Tanner McEvoy for a program record as well.

For the RS freshman under center, it was about much more than the numbers, but how he achieved them.

Mertz completed passes from sideline to sideline, attacked the middle of the field, sold the play action and made every throw with confidence that is rarely seen from a freshman in his first start. Regardless of how many stars they entered their program with.

“I owe it to coach (Jon) Budmayr and coach (Paul) Chryst. I mean we took a ton of time in one-on-one meetings and really sorted the gameplan out and we knew what we were doing and I felt confident in my ability to go execute.” Mertz said.

“In the end I just wanted to get a W and I’m most proud of that. I’m most proud of this team. This week of preparation was great for everybody. I felt like the o-line played great and I felt like our playmakers just kept making plays. So my expectations were to win the game and I exceeded my expectations but I’m happy we won.”

For junior tight end Jake Ferguson who caught seven passes from Mertz for 72 yards and three touchdowns, he saw the confidence click with Mertz right from the very first drive.

“I mean the kid’s smooth. The kid’s definitely smooth. He was smiling cheek-to-cheek after the first touchdown. He knew and everybody in that huddle knew that we were rolling.”

“It’s just awesome to see that out of him. First game I mean, Golly... kid can play.”

Junior cornerback, Rachad Wildgoose who has gone against Mertz everyday in practice expected his stellar performances to translate to the main stage.

“He do it everyday in practice. Nothing he did surprised me. Nothing he did is shocking. Everything he did is expected.” said Wildgoose after the defense allowed just 218 total yards and eight first downs.

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