Did Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz Successfully Silence His Doubters Week One?

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Wisconsin opened the season with a 38-0 win over Illinois State, and QB Graham Mertz played surprisingly well to start the year.

Going into the game, I predicted Mertz’s stat line would be 215 passing yards on 20/28 passing with a passing touchdown.

I begged and pleaded that he didn’t need to do anything to be a hero. He just had to be a successful game manager, and the running attack would take care of business.

Now, I’m not one to brag, but my stat line prediction was almost perfect.

Graham Mertz was safe and steady week one against Illinois State. (Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The junior quarterback finished the blowout win with 219 yards on 14/16 passing and got himself a touchdown. I was off by four yards and he even outperformed my completion percentage prediction. One of his incompletions also hit a receiver square in the hands.

More than anything, Mertz didn’t make any notable mistakes.

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz didn’t make any notable mistakes week one against Illinois State. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

So, did the embattled Wisconsin QB do enough to silence his doubters and haters? That’s impossible to say after one game against an at best average FCS team, but I will say he looked very different from the 2021 season.

Mertz is infamous for being skittish and scared under pressure. When he panics, he makes mistakes. Well, new OC Bobby Engram has built an offense that features plenty of release valves in the passing game.

Has Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz done enough to silence his critics and haters? (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Mertz made plenty of small check downs and short throws when there weren’t plays down the field. In years prior, he likely would have forced it downfield, and we all know how that story ends.

Instead, the physically gifted quarterback showed great patience and comfort with the offense.

So, I think it’s safe to say Mertz certainly did enough to build some confidence and have people believing in him again. Will it be enough to silence his doubters?

There’s a date on the calendar circled in red for September 24 against Ohio State. We’ll learn a lot more on that day, and I can’t wait to find out.

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

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