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Wisconsin football: Paul Chryst discusses Corey Clement, Illinois in weekly press conference

The head of the Wisconsin program met with the media on Monday afternoon.

Paul Chryst Weekly News Conference
Oct. 19, 2015

CHRYST: Certainly appreciated the efforts and told the guys after the game such. It's hard to win games, and certainly in conference, did enough things to give us a chance to win, and the one thing I like about this group is they know the areas they can improve upon, and I think we need to get better in really all facets, and yet the group, they own that and they want to be coached, so looking forward to this week and playing, in my opinion, a very good Illinois team.

QUESTION: Paul, with Corey (Clement) so close to playing this past week, do you fully expect him to be out there against Illinois?

CHRYST: I think with Corey, he's ahead of what people thought, and he was excited to be back in uniform; I think that's part of it. He was one of the first guys onto the field and looking forward to him practicing this week and really seeing how it goes for him.

There is a lot of steps that go into it, and, Corey hasn't -- played a little bit in the Alabama game, hasn't played for a while, so looking forward to getting him working. He'll know, we'll know, and it will be good when we get him there.

There is still no guarantees on the timetable or how it goes. We've just got to keep taking it day-by-day and helping him through it.

QUESTION: Paul, is it mostly a mental barrier for Corey, like any other guy who is coming back from an injury to feel comfortable that he's ready to go in his own mind?

CHRYST: I think there is some physical parts of it, too. The Alabama game, and then tried to let it calm down so that's relative inactivity, and then it's not calming down, so now we need to have the surgery. So it's getting himself back. So the physical component is getting yourself back into shape, and then there is back into football playing shape.

And I think there is a confidence that comes with probably both; what was injured and (being) comfortable and therefore confident in your playing, so I would think there is probably -- I would say it's as much as much physical as it is mental, I would think.

QUESTION: Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt, he looks pretty good, seems to protect the football pretty well, too, doesn't he?

CHRYST: Yeah, he's a good player. I remember watching him when he was in high school, and I think he's playing really well right now. I think their team is. I think they've got good receivers to throw to, the back is -- they're running the ball well. So I think it's kind of clicking for them, and it's going to be an obvious challenge for us, and I think our guys, as they continue to study and look at more Illinois film, they're going to see that, and they will be excited for that.

QUESTION: Paul, you're playing a lot of freshmen and redshirt freshmen. Did you expect that and what do you think the net affect has been?

CHRYST: Thought we would be playing some young guys, not necessarily did I think it would be this many. That's why I give Michael Deiter a lot of credit, you were talking about a freshman linemen, and then to slide him over and play center, and the best part was the way he embraced it. Certainly he didn't grade out at 100 percent, I don't think many linemen do, but you appreciate that. I think that Alec Ingold, didn't project him playing running back. I couldn't say that I thought knew Chris Orr would be that quick of a learn, to jump in, and then with the redshirt freshman, with some of the injuries we had in the offensive line, we thought we would be playing one or two, Michael, certainly, and if you were to ask us, it would be Beau Benzschawel and Jacob Maxwell, Micah Kapoi played a lot, so I guess you never really know going in, but I think it's probably more than I would have guessed. I think the by-product is they're gaining valuable experience.

QUESTION: Paul, on the missed field goal you had, could you tell it was blocked, and when you have a block like that, is that something that's correctible, was it a mistake, just kind of happens?

CHRYST: I think it's all that. I mean, from our end of it, we think there are things that you can do to control, especially when pressure comes from the outside, the operation, the time, is that what it should be. Then everyone's got to do their job in protection, and they got a hand on it. I thought it was a big play. We had a chance to go into halftime with a little bit of momentum, and we didn't. So I think there are areas there we have to and need to correct and clean up.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the overall improvement of the defense and specifically Orr and Edwards, their progress this season?

CHRYST: Yeah, I think, I continually enjoy seeing our defense grow and kind of rise up to the different challenges and situations they're in. I thought both Chris and T.J. -- you know, T.J. had, what, 16 tackles? I thought they were both playing confident and trusting their eyes. I also think that it was a great example of how everyone else contributed to that. I think that, I think there was part of the plan by our opponent to not let Vince and Joe beat them, and I thought we had the three down linemen -- I thought they did a really good job. I thought in some ways, run defense, maybe one of their better performances.

I don't want to say the byproduct, because I think T.J. and Chris did some things on their own merit, but it's also -- I thought it was a pretty good illustration of, collectively, how teams are going to choose to attack us, and we know we're going to be challenged differently this week by Illinois and, like I said, I think they're good players in a good scheme, but it was fun to see those two and trust themselves and trigger, and yet I think it was a culmination of good team defense.

QUESTION: D.J. (Gillins) working at wide receiver, what went into that move? Do you envision it being something long term?

CHRYST: D.J. came to me and wanted to try to find a way -- he said, ‘I want to be able to help this team and I don't feel like I'm doing it right now.' He goes, ‘I know I'm important, and yet I think I can help.'

So I appreciated that. You know what, for right now it is; and I told him, it's something I'm on board for the rest of the season, then let's visit it again. I think he's a heck of a -- he's a heck of a teammate is what he is. You talk to the guys on our team, and they think the world of him, and I'm talking about young guys, I'm talking about guys in his class but I'm also talking about our seniors.

I think there is a couple of different areas that he can help us and part of that is he's been working with our special teams and he did some things at receiver that were pretty nice. He's a natural athlete -- he was a heck of a basketball player -- heck of a competitor. So I'm looking forward to seeing maybe how it plays out. I really don't know exactly, but love having him on this team, and guys love him being a teammate. It's pretty neat how he came to it, and we'll see how the story ends for this year.

QUESTION: You and the defense consistently say they can improve. If there is one spot that you would say they need to get better at, what would it be?

CHRYST: We went through that as a staff, and I think that some guys on the team, if you look at it defensively, we thought some guys can do a better job, and we missed a couple of open field tackles and a couple of guys, it was their hand placement and pad level in the run game.

We can go real generic. We've got to defensively, certain areas offensively, we've got to be better in the red zone, but I think you have to get more specific with your players to help them. Those are -- they get that and they know it, but I think you've got to -- when you're coaching guys you've got to give them very specific things. So we do that with each position, but even then within the position, you've got -- not all the coaching points are the same for all five offensive linemen, and the same with Inoke (Breckterfield), so I think we've got to execute better, that you could put across the board, and then I think within that and how you can execute falls into more specifics at each position.

QUESTION: Do you know Bill Cubit, and can you imagine going through a change like that in the middle of the season, as a coordinator and assistant coach, being elevated to that spot?

CHRYST: I know of him, and very well respected in coaching. I don't know him. I think that is really unique, and yet I give them, and I think the team credit, because I think they're focusing on the season, and they're playing well. So whatever it is they're doing, I think you've got to tip your hat to them, because they're doing it. You throw on the film and they're playing well, and kids are playing hard.

They look to be well coached, and I think they've got good players doing it. Give them a lot of credit and, no, I haven't been in something quite like that, so give them a lot of credit.

QUESTION: After Saturday I think you said you were hopeful that Derrick Tindal was just a bruise, I think you called it. Do you know anymore at this point, and, also, it sounded like Dan Voltz was close last week. Do you anticipate both of those guys being available this week?

CHRYST: I do anticipate both of them being available, and yesterday Derrick was better than Saturday, and Dan didn't play Saturday, so kind of felt better, so that was -- so I do anticipate them both going.

QUESTION: Can you anticipate Taiwan Deal being back, or is he going to miss another week?

CHRYST: That, I don't know yet. Taiwan hasn't done anything over the weekend, so probably be the middle of the week until we find that out.

QUESTION: The defenses in the Big Ten, six of the top 20 scoring in total defenses in the conference, you guys are one of them, I think third nationally now. What is it about the Big Ten that turns out such great defenses? Is it just the nature of the players being recruited or the area or what?

CHRYST: I don't think it's ever just that simple. I think that there are just some really good football coaches coaching some really good football players, and I think that lends itself to it. I know that I spend more time obviously just with our group, and I think that can be said. I think Dave does a nice job of coordinating our defense, and I think Tim (Tibesar) and Inoke (Breckterfield) and Daronte (Jones) do a great job of teaching along with Dave (Aranda), and I think we've got some good football players, and we're developing other players, so -- I don't know, on the whole, what that means or why that is. It's even harder with statistics in general.

You take a look and -- used to be a time when conference stats, at the end of the year, you could match them all up as you played each other, and you at least played similar teams, and now you have some of the same opponents but not others, and that's why these stats are always misleading, because it's who you play and when you play 'em, and at the end of the year I think it gives you a picture of who you were, but during it, it's kind of like a game, it's just part of it, and we've just got to keep going.

But I don't know why -- but I do think there are some really good football players and coaches in this league. I do believe that.

QUESTION: Follow up on your defense and the impact it's had on your offense, having those looks in practice Joel talked about, just amping up the aggressiveness of their approach each week.

CHRYST: I think it helps, when you have a chance to go against each other, and we do that quite a bit, continuing through the season, and I think we all get better by competing and you get better by going against the best.

I think it's one of the things that maybe helps a guy like Beau Benzschawel who goes in for his first start, but he's also faced -- he's lined up against and pass protected against Joe (Schobert) or Vince (Biegel), so you gain some confidence, if I can hold up here, then I've got a chance against my opponent. And I think that can kind of be -- you hope that carries over across the board, on both sides of the ball and even special teams try to get competitive with it, and hopefully that helps guys that are just starting to get their first real game experience, give them some, and you talk about Joel that's played a lot of games, and still when he can be challenged by the defense, I think that's good for growth.

QUESTION: Paul, when a coach is new, first or second year, whether it's going well or not, it's often said that, well, he's not coaching his guys, referring to his recruits. How important is it for a coach to have his recruits in his system?

CHRYST: I've always -- I chose to come here. I chose to join this team. I feel really fortunate to coach these players. Every time I've coached, I've thought of them as -- they're never your guys, you get to coach these players.

So I don't agree with that statement at all, and I think that's -- been around too many, and so many relationship and guys that I've coached have been -- we both came together different ways, and I think you get to coach the players there and you build those relationships, and you help them, and I don't buy into this. I don't think they're never your guys; you know what I mean? We're all part of a team and we get to coach they get to play, we get to do it together.