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Wisconsin football: Paul Chryst discusses the loss of Jack Cichy, preparing for Nebraska

Updates from Paul Chryst’s Monday press conference.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

MADISON — Another week, another top-10 matchup for the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers.

UW (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) faces the undefeated Nebraska Huskers Saturday night under the lights of Camp Randall Stadium (6 p.m. CT, ESPN).

Like previous matchups during conference playing, the Badgers will be shorthanded.

Wisconsin announced on Monday that redshirt junior inside linebacker Jack Cichy will miss the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered during UW’s 17-9 win at Iowa on Saturday.

“I feel, once again, there’s a guy that I loved the way he played and put it out there,” head coach Paul Chryst said on Monday. “We actually talked about that yesterday, and he brought it up. He goes, ‘I’m glad I played the way I did. I didn’t cheat it at all,’ and he did. He put it all out there, and you feel bad for him missing these opportunities to play.”

Chryst, when asked by a reporter, confirmed later in the press conference that Cichy didn’t injure himself further going out there for the second half. The former walk-on leads the team in tackles with 60 and is second in tackles for loss with seven.

“He’ll still have a big impact on our team and he’s still part of the team,” Chryst said. “His role will just be a little different.”

Here’s Chryst’s full press conference, with the highlights below:

  • On Nebraska’s improvement on defense: “I think they’re playing really good team defense. I think they have good players doing that. I know they’re well-coached. I think it’s a group that’s playing with confidence. Last year, I remember getting ready for them and seeing those big plays you’re talking about, and you don’t see them this year.”
  • On the secret to what makes the defense continue to be strong even with players injured: “I think it’s been a group that they really enjoy playing, and when I say that, that means they take time to prepare. I think the defensive coaches have been doing a really good job of giving them plans that they can execute, that gives them a chance at success. Then you gotta go out and play, and that’s where the group likes playing. It’s certainly a combination—there’s talent and there’s a chemistry, too. There’s a good scheme to it.”
  • On Mike Riley turning Nebraska around: “Just in the times I’ve talked with him, he’s stayed the course. He doesn’t sound any different from when I talked to him this fall, or in the summer, or in the winter, or last year in the fall. It’s consistent.”
  • On nose guard Conor Sheehy: “He was good. Conor’s done that before. Last year, [Sheehy] did it, so I thought he was good. Chikwe was good, Alec was good—they play off of each other. We’re still going to need [true freshman nose guard] Garrett [Rand], he’s a big part of it. Billy [Hirschfeld]’ll step in there. Conor was good.”
  • Closer to finding a solid starting five offensive linemen, or does he envision a similar rotation this week? “Yup.”
  • More on that topic: “I think we are working through that, and I think some of it is driven off of health. Then as they go and get their opportunities, what they’re doing with them. So it really is a combination of both of those and trying to give us the best chance [to win].”
  • On when or if to use Bart Houston: “I think the quarterback position has to be a big part of our offense, and whatever we can from that room, those two guys, to give us the best chance [to win]. As the game plans come out and as you go, we’ll figure it out.”
  • The “got grit” shirt and what it means to him? “That was a shirt they got in their locker. I think that’s why they’re wearing it. I’m not going to go into what I told them, but I think grit is something is important and I think there’s a lot of guys on this team that have it.”
  • Red-zone offense the past couple of games. “It’s got to be better, especially when you’re playing in close games—those [chances] matter. Whether it’s taking advantage of them or not, if you don’t take advantage of those opportunities, how many times are you going to get back down there? There’s some ‘controllables,’ there’s some things —it’s execution—that we got to own. It can be the difference between winning and losing.”
  • On the budding rivalry between Wisconsin and Nebraska:“I think it’s two really good programs. If you just look at the games that have been played, I think you always have a natural rivalry when the games mean something, when something’s on the line. The number of good players involved with it adds to it, so I think there’s all of those reasons. I have a ton of respect for them and their program. I think the biggest thing is that the games have been important, and they’ve been good games.”
  • How does Chryst plan to use so many different offensive line combinations (the reporter used the word scripting, but acknowledged he didn’t know if that was the right word for it) going into the game and how does he decide to pull the trigger when the game’s unfolding? “We script it out. (laughs) We’ve had a lot of practice preparing for it because of the circumstances. I think your question’s right—we’re not doing it to invent something that’s maybe doesn’t need to be there. When some of these have been, when someone’s hurt, there is a philosophy of you want to try to get your best players on your field. And yet you have to balance. Not every lineman is a center. Not everyone’s a tackle.”
  • More on that: “Last week it wasn’t until Thursday kind of Friday, that [redshirt freshman left guard] Jon [Dietzen] had done enough that he felt like he could go. Therefore, Rudy [offensive line coach Joe Rudolph] checked with [left guard/center] Michael [Deiter]. There’s a balancing act to it, but I think it’s been out of necessity.”
  • On true freshmen wide receivers Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor:“They’re continuing to grow and develop. Pretty involved with the impact that QT had on the one catch. I thought A.J., on that jet sweep, I think made some guys miss. They’re doing stuff on special teams. You can’t just script and say the ball’s gotta go here. They’re part of the plan. I like what they’re doing. I like the way they’re growing—they are still growing. There are some mistakes that can get cleaned up. Not disappointed with their progress, and yet didn’t spend yesterday and today saying, ‘OK how can we do this for them?’”
  • On working in redshirt freshman running back Bradrick Shaw in? “I think all the guys earn the right to play, and I think Bradrick’s done that. When he’s had his opportunities, he’s taken advantage of them.”