AllBadgers.com Mailbag: Wisconsin Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers
AllBadgers.com prides itself on being a site that can be a community for Wisconsin fans to discuss and debate various topics throughout the year.
On Feb. 12, I asked you, the Badgers faithful, to send in your questions. Thank you all for those! As seen below, I have tried to answer them to the best of my knowledge (and also provided my opinion as well).
From BadgerfaninIL: What are the chances the Badgers employ a two-quarterback system in 2020?
Jake: A fun question. First, I do not discount anything when it comes to chances. For that matter, Wisconsin and head coach Paul Chryst have precedent of using that type of signal caller setup during the 2016 season with redshirt senior Bart Houston and a younger Alex Hornibrook.
The quarterback competition for Wisconsin in 2020 will be exciting to watch. Will I bring popcorn to practice? Properly not, though Greenbush Bakery donuts are always in the back of my head. Jack Coan asserted himself well as a junior last season, completing 69.6% of his throws and averaging nearly 195 yards through the air per game on way to 18 touchdown passes. He also is enough of a threat in running the ball to keep defenses thinking that he could take off when all routes are covered.
Graham Mertz's continued progression will be a storyline heading into his second year as a Badger. Fresh off Elite 11 and All-American Bowl MVP accolades in his four-star high school career, he flashed in spring ball and fall camp in 2019.
You can tell by the "eye test" that he has the potential to be something special under center. Heck, with Chase Wolf -- who I believe could be the most dynamic quarterback in Jon Budmayr's room in terms of dual-threat ability -- this may be the most talented group of signal callers Wisconsin has had in some time.
The competition will be one of the positions to keep tabs on before the Sept. 4 season opener against Indiana. Honestly, I think it comes down to which player (or setup) gives Wisconsin the best and most consistent chance for success on offense. Does Coan continue his development and improves further to have a standout senior campaign? Perhaps more importantly in terms of the asked question, does Mertz emerge and show enough that he is at the level of Coan or higher in leading the unit? Does a two-quarterback set-up actually benefit the team, or could it even hurt it? Do both buy into it if it is best for the program (and based on media conversations, both appear to be team players by all means)?
I say, 'Never say never,' as mentioned earlier. It's good speculation, and this will be intriguing to watch starting next month.
From BuckyFan11: Which wide receiver are you intrigued to watch during spring practices?
Jake: Good question. Gone are Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor and Aron Cruickshank. Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor each have shown their skillsets and likely will now have greater roles at the position group and in the offense. Behind them, however, it should bear watching who steps up in a room that's deep in numbers. Jack Dunn, Adam Krumholz, Taj Mustapha, A.J. Abbott, Cade Green, Emmet Perry, Stephan Bracey, Cam Phillips and more were on the 2019 roster. Who turns heads starting in March?
That being said, I'm intrigued to watch all of them. If I hone in on a few, I'll say Abbott, Bracey and Green. The former stood out a few times during practices last year with an ability to catch the ball well. He only played eight games last season as a redshirt freshman and did not catch a pass. However, I liked his skillset shown during the camps and want to see how he performs during what will be his second set of spring practices as a redshirt sophomore.
When asked on Dec. 27* about which young players had started to emerge during bowl prep practices, offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph called out Bracey as one of them. The true freshman redshirted this season but "has done some good things throughout the year and showed up,” according to the Wisconsin assistant in a quote provided by CollegePressBox.com.
Green has played one game in three years for Wisconsin due to injury. Coming out of Lake Travis High School in Austin, Tex., I thought he showed at the high school level that he could block, make plays in the passing game and impact the punt return game. UW eventually listed him as out for the season with a right leg injury for 2019. If healthy, I feel he could be a contributor for the offense in some fashion at some point in this career.
From Boston Badger: Will Logan Brown see the field this year?
Jake: Really depends on a couple of factors. One is the health of Brown, who was listed by UW as limited for portions of fall camp practices open to the media in August due to an arm injury. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus reported very early last month about his ailments both via the tweet below and in the linked article about a shoulder and bicep injury.
Based on Brown's Instagram account and a Jan. 21 post, it appears he is participating in winter conditioning. A UW official confirmed with AllBadgers.com on Thursday afternoon that both he and Cade Green are.
Along with health, you also have to look at the depth of Wisconsin's offensive line on the edges. Cole Van Lanen locked down the left tackle spot and returns for his fifth year. Logan Bruss played most of last year at right tackle, though he could slide down to right guard as he did during the early part of spring ball last April and at Illinois in October.
Then there's redshirt junior Tyler Beach, who made spot starts against the Illini and Central Michigan in 2019. So there are at least three game-ready players at the tackle spots. If healthy, can the spring and fall camps help Brown continue to develop and work into the two-deep?
There could also be others vying for those spots. When Van Lanen was out for the Purdue game, Michael Furtney was listed as the No. 2 left tackle. Does Cormac Sampson -- who switched back to tight end from the line last season return to Rudolph's room, and at which position? The Eau Claire Memorial product worked at both tackle and center before the season. Aaron Vopal, who will be a redshirt junior, will be in his second year on offense after transitioning from the defensive line last spring.
Long story short, it's still really early to discuss if he will see the field.
Update, Feb. 21: A UW official confirmed with AllBadgers.com on Thursday afternoon that both he and Cade Green are participating in winter conditioning.