WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Jonathan Taylor stole the show at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday, amassing a staggering 321 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the University of Wisconsin's 47-44 triple-overtime victory over Purdue.
Badgers quarterback Jack Coan, however, came away with perhaps a more promising performance than anyone in game where UW erased a 14-point deficit over the final 7 minutes.
Coan made his third career start filling in for Alex Hornibrook, and the results proved much more encouraging than his last outing in a 22-10 loss at Penn State the previous week.
"I think today, he played a lot more comfortable. He was a lot more relaxed," wide receiver A.J. Taylor said. "It seemed like this is where he belongs."
Coan completed 16-of-24 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Both his scoring tosses came late in the fourth quarter and erased a 27-13 deficit.
The sophomore, along with the Badgers' entire offense, looked lost against the Nittany Lions last week. After attempting just four passes in the first half, Coan finished 9-of-20 passing for 60 yards with no touchdowns and three turnovers.
Fans directed much of their frustration from that loss at Coan, whose bounce-back day in West Lafayette on Saturday contributed to his first win as a starter.
"It means a lot," Coan said. "Obviously, a lot of people talk and say a lot of things, and just to come out and get a win is huge. ... There's a lot of outside noise. I usually block it out, but I also use it as motivation as well."
Coan completed his first six passes Saturday, including a perfectly-placed deep ball to Taylor on third-and-5 that went for a 34-yard gain. He only connected on three of his next 11 attempts and took a sack in an obvious throw-away situation on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
Ultimately, though, he played some of his best football down the stretch. Over the final nine minutes of regulation and the three overtimes, Coan completed all seven of his pass attempts for 70 yards and the two touchdowns.
"I thought what was awesome with Coan today is he was just having fun," left guard Michael Deiter said. "When it got to overtime and all that stuff, he could have easily been like, 'Oh my gosh.' But he cut it loose and was just smiling and having a blast."
Coan's now played in four games this season, the limit for a player to redshirt and maintain an extra year of eligibility. While the hope heading into the season was that Coan would indeed redshirt, that plan hinges entirely on the health of Hornibrook.
Hornibrook suffered two concussions in a span of three games, the most recent coming against Rutgers on Nov. 3. He practiced last week before ultimately not traveling to Purdue.
If needed Saturday against Minnesota, however, Coan will be ready - probably much more so than when first called upon only four weeks ago.
"I think he learned things throughout the game," UW coach Paul Chryst said. "I thought he had great poise and composure. I liked talking to him. I think guys came up around him, too, and they helped him kind of navigate it.
"It hasn't been easy. All three of his starts have been on the road. ... I've said it a bunch. Experiences are invaluable. To be able to do this was big."