Jack Coan Struggles in Spot Start At Northwestern

Jack Coan Struggles in Spot Start At Northwestern

Football

Jack Coan Struggles in Spot Start At Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. – So, maybe a change at quarterback isn’t what the doctor ordered for Wisconsin?

With starter Alex Hornibrook watching in street clothes after not being cleared from the concussion protocol, Wisconsin turned to sophomore quarterback Jack Coan for a spot start in a game that would go a long way to determining its postseason future. The results weren’t pretty.

In his season debut and first collegiate start, Coan threw for 158 yards, a fourth-quarter touchdown and lost a fumble in what developed into an ugly 31-17 loss by No.20 Wisconsin to Northwestern at Ryan Field.

“There are some areas where we can learn from (the start),” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said of Coan. “It’s the same for any player on this team, you want them to play flawless and yet that seldom happens with any player. I was proud of the way he played and handled it … certainly there’s going to be some plays you’d like back.”

With Hornibrook put into the concussion protocol on Monday, Coan took all the reps with the first-team offense throughout the week, getting the impression Tuesday he’d be making his season debut. Chryst and the players insisted that the full playbook was at Coan’s disposal, but the Badgers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) having to call a timeout before their first offensive play was ominous foreshadowing.

Coan’s first pass attempt was a solid pitch-and-catch with A.J. Taylor for eight yards and he helped orchestrate a five-play, 29-yard touchdown drive that put Wisconsin up 7-0. The play calling in the first half was conservative, as Coan didn’t complete a pass more than eight yards downfield. Early in the second quarter, Coan missed Aron Cruickshank on a deep ball but those throws were limited and off target.

Of Coan’s 20 completions, none resulted in a gain of more than 18 yards against a Northwestern (5-3, 5-1) squad that has put together four wins in a row to take command of the Big Ten West.

“I was just trying to battle and play as hard as I could,” Coan said.

Many thought Chryst might try to utilize Coan’s running ability as an added wrinkle in the offensive attack, given that he rushed for 2,551 yards and 33 touchdowns during an illustrious high school career in Long Island. Instead, Coan finished the game with only two rushing attempts for 10 yards and a lost fumble.

But the running game was stymied by the Wildcats defense, rushing for a measly 165 yards, resulting in the Badgers going 4 of 12 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down and only holding the ball for 26 minutes, 22 seconds.

“I thought Jack battled his tail off,” tackle David Edwards said. “For his first start, going against a really good defense like Northwestern and the challenges they present, he definitely battled.”

Becoming only the fifth Badgers quarterback to lose his starting debut since 1992, Coan getting another start remains unknown. The only thing for certain is that the Badgers continue to struggle to find any rhythm offensively, giving them a third loss that puts their Big Ten title hopes in serious jeopardy.

“You got to take what happens,” Coan said. “and keep moving forward.”

 

 

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