Graham Mertz is getting ready to play his first game under a new head coach at Wisconsin. Coming to Madison as the highest-ranked QB commit for the Badgers, Mertz and the program are still dealing with the news of Paul Chryst’s firing on Sunday.

Despite a 72% win rate and large amounts of success with the Badgers, AD Chris McIntosh felt the time was right to make a move. That meant moving on from Chryst and heading forward under interim coach Jim Leonhard.

On Wednesday, Mertz addressed how he reacted to the news of Chryst’s ouster. He admitted the news caught him by surprise, but the program is focused on moving forward successfully (Via 247 Sports).

“I would say we were shocked,” Mertz said via Badger247. “I’d say the initial first day I was shocked. I mean, obviously I got a great relationship (with coach Chryst). And I mean, I can speak for anybody that’s played under coach or coached with him, just the type of man he is. It’s the guy that you want to play for. I mean, he’s so down to Earth and he always wants the best for his players. So obviously I have a great relationship and will forever have a great relationship with him. So yeah, I mean, I’m focused on this group up here and the team down in the locker room and getting us ready to go. So that’s where I’m putting my energy towards.”

“Anytime you go for something in life, you kind of have to take a step back and figure out what happened and it’s how quick can you move forward,” Mertz said. “And I mean, all the guys at this table, it’s our job to lead this team right now. And so yeah, I mean, I took a day to process it. Talked to Coach Chryst a little bit and then moved forward. I mean, that’s our motto: ‘Forever Forward’ here. And that’s what I’m focused on. All that’s on my mind now is winning.”

It will be interesting to see how the Badgers look in their first game under Leonhard. The former DC will get 7 games this season to prove what he can do with the program.