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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Column: Tanner Mordecai’s positive impact on the Wisconsin football program

In his first season with the Badgers, the man under center has already created waves with his versatile gameplay.

Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai has demonstrated versatility in both rushing and passing that is momentous for his team and the program’s future this season.

The 6-foot-2 senior had limited rushing yards throughout his career. Mordecai largely relied on his passing game and handing the ball off to running backs during previous seasons with the University of Oklahoma and Southern Methodist University. 

However, his focus shifted this year.

Mordecai only rushed for two yards in Wisconsin’s season opener against Buffalo, but that has steadily increased since. Mordecai ran the ball 14 times for 44 yards against Purdue on Sept. 29, securing a 38-17 win and advancing the Badgers to a 3-1 overall record. 

Before this season, Mordecai only scored four rushing touchdowns in his entire college career. He has already scored four this season.

“That’s where Tanner sometimes is best,” head coach Luke Fickell said in an interview after Wisconsin’s victory over the Boilermakers. “His ability to make things happen, his ability to move around, his ability to buy time is really big. Obviously, he had a great, big run down there in the red zone for a touchdown … He’s a threat in many different ways.”

Wisconsin hasn’t given much priority to its quarterbacks’ rushing yards in the past few years, instead focusing on passing yards and handing the ball off to running backs. During the 2022 season, Wisconsin’s former quarterback Graham Mertz ended the season with an impressive 2,136 passing yards — however, his total rushing yards amounted to -40. 

Mordecai’s adaptability has allowed for more rushing yards this season. He rushed a total of 100 yards at SMU last season, which he has surpassed by a few yards after only four games with Wisconsin. 

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