Graham Mertz, Badgers quarterback (⬇️ DOWN)
Remember when Mertz was the apple of Wisconsin’s – and the fans’ – eye? That shine has worn off. Reports flew all over the place in the last week or so that the Badgers were going after Caleb Williams, the sensational quarterback who was transferring from Oklahoma. Williams decided to go to, as expected from the start, Southern Cal, where former Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley now presides. But Pandora’s box was opened. How might Mertz feel about this highly publicized courting? Yes, it’s collegiate sports and competition should be expected. Mertz has not been the savior as unfairly expected, he’s been mediocre with flashes of stellar play. But players are not robots. This is like being married but going after another woman only to be turned down and having to go back to your wife. There’s going to be some conversations (and we expect the coach and quarterback to publicly say all the right things). Head coach Paul Chryst certainly had to know the potential blowback if Williams didn’t come to Wisconsin. The key, of course, is how Mertz will respond. Confidence busted? Now always looking over his shoulder? Yes, Mertz needs to get better. Maybe this whole affair will spark him. Of course, it could also torpedo the 2022 season before it even begins.
Badgers cornerback room (✋ reset)
Wisconsin officially welcomed some transfers on National Signing Day, including three cornerbacks: Justin Clark (Toledo), Cedrick Dort (Kentucky) and Jay Shaw (UCLA). There’s a good reason for those additions. Seniors Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams have moved on. Dean Engram, who played the third-most snaps at corner in a nickel role, has been moved to wide receiver. Deonte Burton left the team in midseason saying he was transferring. That left the room with Alexander Smith (199 snaps), Semar Melvin (63) and a cast of youngsters. Get your numerical roster handy.
Packers next special teams coach (🤷)
Next season Green Bay will have Matt LaFleur’s third special teams coach in his four years. Maybe there’s more here than just the coaching. We advise renting.
Brad Davison, Badgers guard (⬆️ UP)
In his fifth (yes, just fifth) season at Wisconsin, Davison, perhaps been lost in Johnny Davis’ shadow, has become something of a consistent scoring threat. Entering Wednesday’s contest, he’s averaging 15.7 points per game – easily his best with the Badgers (previous high: 12.1 as a freshman; he averaged 10.0 points last season). Davison is draining 2.8 3-pointers per game, which helps that scoring punch. In Wisconsin’s two games last week he sank 5 of 8 3s en route to a 21-point game in a win at Nebraska and 4 of 9 in Sunday’s win over Minnesota. Davison broke the school record for career 3s against the Cornhuskers and now has 239 (and counting). His 56 this season in 20 games is seven shy of his single-season high, set last season. Davison isn’t beloved by opposing fans but he’s making his final season at Wisconsin a memorable one, securing his place among Badgers faithful.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks forward (⬆️ UP)
In four games last week, Giannis averaged 31.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 58.3$ from the field. Oh, and 79.2% from the line! Might Antetokounmpo be underappreciated? We broke down why that’s the case. Oh, and he also was named an NBA All-Star starter yet again.
George Hill, Bucks guard (⬇️ DOWN)
Hill’s shooting has been inconsistent this season and that was the case as well last week as he missed all three of his shot attempts (0-for-2 from 3) in last Wednesday’s loss at Cleveland but then made 2 of 4 shots in Friday’s win over the Knicks (1-for-2 from 3). It might be a while before Hill can get back on track. He missed the last two games with a neck injury and head coach Mike Budenholzer said he might miss Milwaukee’s West Coast trip, which runs through Feb. 10.