Badgers QB Graham Mertz played through shoulder injury last season but won’t use it as excuse for struggles

Graham Mertz didn’t make excuses when he struggled during his first year as Wisconsin’s starting quarterback and the redshirt sophomore isn’t going to start now even after this week’s revelation that he dealt with a shoulder injury for much of the season.

“It comes with playing the sport,” Mertz told reporters Friday. “You get hurt and you go through stuff like that, having to get a cortisone shot during the week, stuff like that. But I’m not one to sit here and make excuses to how I played.”

The injury to his throwing shoulder came to light in a story posted Thursday on It was written that Mertz suffered the injury against Michigan in the second game of the season. Mertz’s play in that game, and for much of the last five games, paled in comparison to his spectacular debut against Illinois when he threw just one incomplete pass and five touchdowns. In one stretch the Badgers went three straight games without scoring at least 10 points for the first time in nearly 30 years. In those games, Mertz threw just one touchdown, while throwing five interceptions and losing two fumbles.

“Having a little banged up shoulder doesn’t justify losing three games and playing like that,” Mertz said. “I’m not going to sit here and make that an excuse, because it’s not.”

Mertz was better in two wins to end the season. He didn’t turn the ball at all and completed better than 60% of his passes in each game.

Wisconsin opened spring practice this week in Madison with Mertz as its clear No. 1 quarterback.