Former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz is now playing for the Florida Gators. A former five-star recruit, Mertz never really found a groove in Wisconsin’s run-heavy offense. 2021 was his first full season as the Badgers’ starting quarterback, he three more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10). Last season, he threw for 2,136 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, but the offense failed to score points, head coach Paul Chryst was fired, and a definite change was needed.
After Luke Fickell was hired instead of defensive coordinator and interim head coach Jim Leonhard, Mertz decided to transfer. After initially committing to Kentucky, Mertz changed his mind and committed to Florida. For their part, Wisconsin brought in several transfer quarterbacks, with Tanner Mordecai named as their starter this season.
Former Wisconsin Badgers Quarterback Graham Mertz’s Debut with the Florida Gators Was Not Good
Prior to the season, it was reported that Florida chose Mertz from a pool of 24 quarterbacks that they studied, hoping to find their next starter. There were certainly high hopes among Florida fans with Mertz coming in, but they were sorely disappointed by the team’s debut.
Utah defeated Florida 24-11 in their season opener on Thursday night. Mertz did not have a bad statistical game, completing 31 of 44 passes for 333 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Even that interception was not really all his fault as it bounced off his receivers hands.
But of course, stats do not tell the whole story, and Mertz struggled to make plays for most of the game. It did not take long for fans to post on social media what they thought of the new Gators quarterback:
Rolling out Graham Mertz to play in front of a stadium filled with fans in red & white was never going to end well
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 1, 2023
That’s the Graham Mertz I remember pic.twitter.com/aCBWnmjFUB
— CleBuckeye (@CleBuckeye23) September 1, 2023
Who at Florida watched Graham Mertz film at Wisconsin and thought he should be allowed to wear 15? That person should be fired…
— IrrationalConfidencePodcast (@IRConfidencePod) September 1, 2023
Graham Mertz needs to be shipped back to Wisconsin!!!
— $wagg 🏁 (@CallM3Swagg) September 1, 2023
Hate to disrespect Kansas guys, but Dave Doeren and Graham Mertz being on my (multi)screen at the same time is a war crime.
— Brendan Dzwierzynski (@BrendanDzw) September 1, 2023
Florida should fire Napier just because he
1. Settled on Graham Mertz out of the portal
— Joe DiTullio (@DiTullioJoe) September 1, 2023
Graham Mertz doesn’t have an answer to respond to the pressure Utah is getting on him.
Same issue we saw at Wisconsin.
— John Vogel (@DraftVogel) September 1, 2023
Graham Mertz didn’t improve at all. Florida is going to be in prison in the SEC this seasonpic.twitter.com/JvzdYkw9Nc
— College Football Blue Bloods (@bluebloodsbias) September 1, 2023
This game has confirmed everything I already knew about Graham Mertz. He just simply isn’t the guy.
— Saturday Showdown (@CFB_SatShowdown) September 1, 2023
While the play-making was lacking from Mertz, it was also lacking from the team as a whole. Additionally, the 333 passing yards Mertz had is the most he has ever thrown for in a college game (not to mention he completed 70% of his passes).
All this to say that Mertz has talent and is an okay game manager. However, he continued to show that he lacks the “it” factor that would put him among the NCAA’s best quarterbacks. Unfortunately for him, he now plays in the SEC, where his play will be scrutinized even more.
It’s just one game, but it was not a good one for the team. If Florida continues to struggle, Mertz will be among the first to be blamed.