Wisconsin Football: Instant Takeaways from Loss to Notre Dame

Sep 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) passes during the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) passes during the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

Well, the game was close at one point, and the Wisconsin football team even had the lead in the second half. But things quickly spiraled out of control, and Notre Dame cruised to a big win.

If you’re up for it, here are the instant takeaways from the Wisconsin Football team’s performance.

– I was a big fan of the opening play where we saw jet motion and a play-action pass that set up an easy completion for Graham Mertz. The screen to Chez Mellusi in the third quarter was drawn up nicely as well. But other than that, it was a lot of the same repetitive calls that we’ve seen in the past.

– Speaking of Mertz, he still looks incredibly uncomfortable when he drops back. He still doesn’t have even a season’s worth of experience yet, but we’ve seen very little in terms of improvements at this point: questionable decisions, inaccurate throws, and indecisiveness.

– I’ll give some credit on that deep ball to Clay Cundiff. A terrific pass by Mertz and an over-the-shoulder grab by Cundiff. Mertz also found some success on a few quick slants to Kendric Pryor on a scoring drive.

– But the missed deep balls and four interceptions are unacceptable.

– The Notre Dame OL has had some issues this season, and the Wisconsin defensive front certainly took advantage. They finished the game with six sacks.

– As good as the Badger run game has been, they really struggled today against Notre Dame. And that did not do Mertz or this offense any favors.

– With that said, it’s not as if the OL created many big running lanes for Mellusi and Berger either. Wisconsin also continued to rotate several linemen in and out.

– If the Badgers didn’t pick up four or five yards on the ground on first down, it was almost a guaranteed three and out.

– When Wisconsin loses the turnover battle, it does not bode well for them with Mertz at QB, and unfortunately, that is what happened today.

– Jack Coan found a lot of success in the passing game, attacking the boundaries. He finished the game 15/29 for 158 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury.

– What a brutal sequence on the Notre Dame touchdown before halftime. A Badger interception was overturned by a questionable pass interference penalty, and then Coan connected for a 36 touchdown down reception.

– It was a very quiet day for Jake Ferguson, who had one reception for 11 yards—although he was matched up against Kyle Hamilton quite often–a potential top pick in the upcoming draft.

– The Badger defensive front did a terrific job of slowing RB Kyren Williams, who averaged under two yards per carry. And overall they were very good.

– Ultimately, with neither run game finding much success, this game came down to which quarterback could make more plays. And that was clearly Coan and Drew Pyne.

– The Badgers didn’t have a ton of penalties — five compared to Notre Dame’s 10 — but they came in the worst times. There was the pass interference that negated the interception and then the block in the back on the big kick return.

– Faion Hicks gave up a touchdown pass — although he contested it well through the ground — but overall, he was solid after being targeted on several occasions. It was also a nice day for Matt Henningsen and Keeanu Benton.

– Following the fumble recovery by the defense, the Badgers needed to put up seven points, but they ended settling for a field goal. Right after that, Notre Dame returned the kickoff, retaking the lead.

– Hindsight is always 20/20, but that kick return by the Irish was ultimately what ended this game for the Badgers. Momentum swung and although Wisconsin was only down four, with this offense, that sure felt like a lot more.

– A pair of sneaky solid games from Pryor and Danny Davis. The duo totaled 11 receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown.

– Wisconsin finished 1/13 on third downs. That’s rough.

– Three Irish receivers had over 50 receiving yards.

– The Wisconsin defense has allowed 36 total points through three games, and the Badgers are 1-2. It’s obvious, but this unit is really good.

– Although one was negated by a penalty, Deviny Chandler had two nice kick returns today.

– The Wisconsin Football team is 1-2 and they face Michigan next weekend.