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Wisconsin football: Paul Chryst praises LB Jack Cichy, talks progression of offensive line

Chryst also discussed the two newest members of the football program.

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst met with media before their Saturday practice on the practice field located on the southwest corner of the Qualcomm Stadium property in sunny San Diego.

One of the final questions in the nearly five minute interaction with reporters revolved around redshirt sophomore Jack Cichy and if he's done more than what the coaching staff had anticipated. Cichy, a former walk-on who's played both as a reserve outside linebacker and as a starting inside linebacker in place of injured true freshman Chris Orr, has tallied 51 tackles. That places him fifth on the team this season.

"I think he's done a heck of a job," Chryst said. "I thought that (outside linebackers coach) Tim (Tibesar) and our defensive staff did a nice job early with Vince (Biegel) and "Schobs" (senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert). Jesse (Hayes) and 'Cich' would play, so when the injuries happened, Cich had been playing.

"But I thought he did a great job of taking advantage of his opportunities at the beginning of the year, and then as a starter. I love being around him day in and day out. He's got great energy. I think he loves playing. It's been a neat progression to see him grow and with the ability to make plays, confidence, and yet I think he's still smart enough to know he can work and still get better."

Cichy will have to sit out the first half of the Holiday Bowl against USC on Wednesday due to being ejected for a targeting call in the second half against Minnesota on Nov. 29.

In other highlights from Chryst:

  • On how junior running back Corey Clement looked in practice -- "He was alright."
  • When asked about Clement's status, "I think we've got a chance for him to play, which is good."
  • Chryst has enjoyed getting reacquainted with the seniors, saying the group has a lot of personality, and he's enjoyed being around him.
  • On the bowl game, Chryst said it's the last time this team will be able to play together, and their goal is to play their best game of the year. Said it's a bowl game against a really good opponent.
  • Has there been benefits to the struggles the offensive line has dealt with this year? Chryst said that the current group that's on the line -- left tackle Tyler Marz, left guard Micah Kapoi, center Michael Deiter, right guard Beau Benzschawel, right tackle Jacob Maxwell -- has played one other game together (the last one vs. Minnesota). He's liked how the players have practiced and played and gotten a chance to work together. Chryst hopes the month of practice together will be a benefit.
  • When asked to comment on the two mid-year enrollees in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Saguaro) quarterback Kare Lyles and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. inside linebacker Dallas Jeanty -- now that they're officially in the program -- Chryst laughed, "Can I do that?" He further elaborated that they're both "great fits at Wisconsin." Noted that when the Badgers come back after the bowl game, both Lyles and Jeanty will be there.