After a star-making performance in his starting debut, redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz (above) may be eligible to play this week after sitting out of game action for 21 days after a positive COVID-19 test. Mertz had to clear physical tests this week before he could practice and coach Paul Chryst said Mertz’s status will be determined by how he looks in practice.
If Mertz can play, expecting another near-perfect showing from him is a bit ridiculous, but after seeing what Michigan has allowed opposing quarterbacks the past two weeks, nothing is out of the question. Michigan allowed over 300 yards and three touchdowns apiece to Michigan State’s Rocky Lombardi and Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. If Mertz can get back in a rhythm with his receivers after a hiatus, the passing attack could be in line for a big game.
UW’s rushing attack was a bit slow out of the gate, averaging 3.4 yards per carry against Illinois, but Badgers coaches and players believed they had chances for big plays that they missed. Garrett Groshek had the most productive day on the ground in the opener, gaining 72 yards. The ground game needs to get back to form against Michigan, which has allowed over 100 yards rushing in each of its three games, but is only surrendering 3.2 yards per carry.
The Wolverines are anchored by a stout defensive line that features standouts Kwity Paye and Carlo Kemp, but they’re struggling to put pressure on passers. Michigan hasn’t recorded a sack in the past two weeks. Aidan Hutchinson, another stud defensive lineman, is out indefinitely after breaking his leg last week against Indiana.