The news of quarterback Jack Coan’s decision to transfer from the University of Wisconsin seemed inevitable.
With Coan’s senior season being derailed by a training camp injury and the subsequent moves the Badgers made under center, it was unlikely that Coan would regain his starting role next season.
Chryst said he’d had conversations with Coan over the course of the season, but the first time that Coan expressed interest in transferring was in the week before the Iowa game earlier this month. He declined to specify the reasons Coan made his decision.
“I’ve always, and still do, appreciate Jack a ton,” Chryst said. “I think it’d be wrong for me to speak on something like that. Really Jack’s voice should be heard on that one, I think.”
Not having Coan will be a morale hit as the Badgers (3-3) prepare to face Wake Forest (4-4) in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Dec. 30 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Coan was active on the sidelines, providing advice and encouragement to quarterbacks and other teammates throughout the season. He hugged redshirt sophomore Chase Wolf on the field Saturday after Wolf helped UW defeat Minnesota 20-17 in overtime at Camp Randall Stadium, which essentially sealed the team’s bowl bid.
“I think it was certainly the teammates that he was with, he’s had a positive impact on them,” UW coach Paul Chryst said when asked about Coan’s impact on the team.
“Certainly point to a lot of games where he played and helped this team win games and some big games. Probably a lot of little different components to what his mark was. But you know what was pretty neat — and a lot of guys have this opportunity and Jack certainly has done this and many have — but the fact that they did leave a mark, they did leave a lasting impression. I think that’s something to be proud of.”
Coan played in 25 games, including 18 starts — the Badgers went 12-6 in his starts, including 10-4 last season. Coan passed for 3,278 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He had 297 completions on 437 attempts (67.96%) over his three seasons, and his 236 completions last season set a program record.
The right foot injury that Coan suffered Oct. 3 required surgery, but he immediately began the rehab process and was able to dress for the first time for the home game against Indiana.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz has started every game this season. Mertz, the highest-rated QB recruit in program history is likely to keep the job in the future, which left Coan — a proven starter at the Power 5 level — with the choice to leave and potentially play again or be a reserve at UW.
“While this decision was not easy, I know it’s the right one for my family and I,” Coan said in a social media message Sunday. He will be a graduate transfer and eligible to play next season at his new school.
Goetz finds a home
Jim Leonhard knew C.J. Goetz had a role in his defense.
But figuring out where the Muskego native fit into the Badgers’ front seven took some trial-and-error by the defensive coordinator. Goetz was recruited as an inside linebacker and started his career at that spot.
Leonhard liked the strength Goetz possessed and thought that he could use his speed as a nickel-package defensive end. Those roles suited Goetz’s body and skills, but he’s found a home as an outside linebacker this season.
“He’s got heavy hands, he’s very physical for us,” Leonhard said. “From a development standpoint, he had one of those bodies that could’ve went a number of different ways. He’s really settled down and he’s matured his body physically. He’s put in a lot of time and a lot of work and really tailors himself to what we ask of him.”
Goetz has played in all six games this season, tallying 10 tackles, two for loss, a sack and two quarterback hurries. His most productive game this season came against Michigan when he recorded four assisted tackles. The redshirt sophomore has added depth to the group behind starters Noah Burks and Nick Herbig, and adds to the versatility of the group to match up in different ways with offenses.
“We’re excited for his future at the position and he’s playing solid right now,” Leonhard said. “We feel like there’s more playmaking in there. It might just take a little bit of time, but we like everything he’s providing us right now from a physicality standpoint, consistency. He’s young to the position, but he’s taken a huge stride from last year.”
From the infirmary
Chryst said it was too early to tell if the Badgers’ injury-ridden offense will get back key contributors such as senior receivers Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor and senior offensive tackle Cole Van Lanen.
Senior defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk took a hit to his right knee on the final play of regulation against the Gophers and didn’t play in overtime.
However, freshman running back Jalen Berger could be back after the Big Ten Conference’s decision to drop the days out of game action from 21 to 17 for players who test positive for COVID-19. Berger tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 11, so he would be eligible to play in the bowl game under the new rule if he is cleared by doctors.
“The earliest a student-athlete would be allowed to return to participate in competition is on Day 17 following a positive PCR test,” a UW spokesman said. “We will be following a return to play progression that begins when appropriate cardiac screening occurs following the 10-day isolation period and as indicated by our team physicians.”
The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is slated for 19 days after Berger’s positive test.
Fans at Mayo Bowl
Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte will host fans up to 7% of its capacity for the bowl game, a little less than 5,300 spectators. Tickets are sold in groups of four on Ticketmaster and start at about $60 per ticket.
UW hasn’t had fans in Camp Randall Stadium this season due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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