Wolf’s injury hinders No. 18 Wisconsin’s quarterback depth

Sports

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s quarterback depth has taken a hit heading into the 18th-ranked Badgers’ season opener.

Backup quarterback Chase Wolf injured his right leg last week and is out for an indefinite length of time. That leaves starter Graham Mertz as the only available Wisconsin quarterback who has taken a snap in a college game.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst says he doesn’t know how much time Wolf will miss. The Badgers open their season Saturday by hosting Football Championship Subdivision program Illinois State.

“Just offering up all my prayers to him,” Mertz said Monday. “He’s in surgery probably here in a little bit. Obviously, you never want to see your buddy go down.”

Wisconsin’s remaining quarterbacks behind Mertz are redshirt freshman Deacon Hill and true freshmen Myles Burkett and Marshall Howe. Burkett was on campus for spring practice.

“I couldn’t sit here right now and tell you who’s further ahead or not,” Chryst said.

Chryst did note that Hill “certainly has had more overall reps.”

Wolf was 15 of 25 for 155 yards with four interceptions and two touchdown passes over the last three seasons. He went 8 of 16 for 124 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown last season, and he played most of the second half of a loss to Michigan after Mertz was injured.

“You feel terrible for him because I really liked what he was doing in camp,” Chryst said Monday. “The one thing I know is Chase will stay in it. When he can get back, he’ll be ready to go.”

Mertz said the lack of experience behind him won’t impact his approach on the field.

“It doesn’t affect any how I play,” Mertz said. “I don’t think it should.”

Mertz completed 59.5% of his passes for 1,958 yards with 11 interceptions and 10 touchdown passes last season. He owns a 13-7 career record as a starter.

In the 13 wins, Mertz has thrown 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions. In the seven losses, he has thrown 12 interceptions and three touchdown passes.

“You’re seeing a guy that’s gone through all that and has found a way to keep coming out the other end,” Chryst said. “If you can do that and learn from it, that’s a good thing. I’ve loved the way he’s approached that.”

Wisconsin also announced that safety Travian Blaylock, defensive end Mike Jarvis, and linebacker Luna Larson are out for the season with injured right legs. Offensive lineman Tanor Bortoloni, tight end Cam Large, linebacker Spencer Lytle, defensive end Isaac Townsend and outside linebacker Aaron Witt have leg injuries that will prevent them from playing Saturday.

Blaylock had 21 tackles last season and was expected to have a bigger role this year until he got hurt in spring practice. The Badgers have since added Utah transfer Kamo’I Latu to boost their safety depth behind starters John Torchio and Hunter Wohler.

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