A second test confirmed that Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz is positive for COVID-19. However, there are also two silver linings to this news.
First, Bruce Feldman reports that Mertz “is feeling fine.” Second, Mertz may be able to return in time for the Michigan game. Though it initially appeared that the 21-day absence mandated by Big Ten protocol (doubling the timeline suggested in CDC guidelines) would keep Mertz out against Nebraska, Purdue, and Michigan, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN now reports that Mertz could be back versus Michigan if his first test was administered last Saturday:
Two things on #Wisconsin, Covid and B1G:
– Longer quarantine is to rule out heart issues and give players time to catch up conditioning wise to prevent injury
– The 21-day clock starts from first positive test, so if Mertz tested Saturday, could return for Michigan on 11/14
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) October 27, 2020
Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel previously reported that Mertz’s first positive test happened on Saturday.
These two reports together give us hope that we could see Mertz in Ann Arbor on November 14th.
As we wrote earlier, Mertz was supposed to backup first-string QB Jack Coan, but Coan injured his foot during camp. Mertz was then moved from second string to starter. Third stringer, Chase Wolf, has also reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. We have not yet heard the results of his second test. The fourth stringer is redshirt junior Danny Vanden Boom.
Running back Garrett Groshek was also a dual threat quarterback in high school, so we could even see him in the wildcat against Nebraska and Purdue.
For those confused by all the different regulations governing Big Ten COVID protocol, we understand your pain. We’d like to help you out by explaining some of the math here:
If Mertz tested positive this past Saturday, then it is considered his first day of quarantine. Friday, November 13th would then become his 21st and final day of quarantine. Thus, he’d be clear to play on the 22nd day, November 14th, the day his team faces Michigan at the Big House.
Those who think that Mertz is ineligible against Michigan are counting hours rather than days. The kickoff time of the Michigan game has yet to be determined. If it occurs before the time that Mertz took his first test on October 24th, Mertz would not meet the required 504 hours of quarantine and could not play.