Wisconsin yet to decide on a backup quarterback

Wisconsin does not have its No. 2 quarterback just days before its season opener against Illinois State.

Following the loss of backup Chase Wolf to a knee injury, the Badgers say the competition to serve behind starter Graham Mertz remains open, seemingly between redshirt freshman Deacon Hill and true freshman Myles Burkett.

“Right now, it’s a competition,” offensive coordinator Bobby Engram said Tuesday. “Those guys know it. They’re practicing hard and it’s a great opportunity for everybody to continue to elevate their game. Right now, it’s undetermined, so we’ll just kind of see how the week goes and how it progresses along. But those guys are excited about it and competing hard.”

Neither Hill nor Burkett have played a snap of football in college. And though Hill is technically a year ahead of Burkett, the two arrived on campus only about six months apart, as Burkett enrolled early and took part in spring practice in March and April. It means that the gap between the two in their knowledge and experience running Wisconsin’s offense is not that much different, especially with Hill spending much of last season on the scout team directing the opposing offense against the No. 1 defense.

“I think number one is understanding what to do, progressions and really turning the intensity up in practice,” Engram said of what he’s seen of Hill in camp. “Trying to get better, play with urgency, but I think all the guys are competing hard and improving, and it’s a good competitive situation.”

Hill, a 6-foot-3, 252-pound California native, was a 3-star recruit and chose the Badgers over offers from UCLA, Kansas State and Nevada. With the strongest arm among the quarterbacks on the roster, Hill can make every throw the Badgers need him to. Accuracy and decision making were issues in the spring, though it seemed improved during the small glimpses of Hill that reporters got in fall camp.

Burkett was the No. 1 ranked QB in the state of Wisconsin in the 2022 class and led Franklin to a Division 1 title last fall. Listed at 6-foot, 204 pounds, Burkett barely got any reps in team drills in the spring, while his time in the fall with reporters in attendance came during the young guys portion at the conclusion of practice.

Game-time decisions

Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said several guys on defense will be game-time decisions on Saturday. That includes cornerback Alexander Smith. He missed all of fall camp while dealing with a hamstring injury. The senior was listed on the depth chart and not the injury report Monday, but he also wasn’t made available to reporters, which happens with guys that aren’t practicing.

“We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us,” Leonhard said. “Certain injuries, you don’t want a setback. I think there’s a couple guys that are going to be kind of game-time decisions just because they’ve missed a pretty significant portion of camp, and as they’re working back in, we’re going to try to be smart with them.”

Cornerback Justin Clark is among the other players that missed time.