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Wisconsin returns to practice before Cotton Bowl

Paul Chryst discusses the status of his team, Western Michigan and the Cotton Bowl.

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The Wisconsin Badgers returned to practice on Friday, although according to multiple reports, it was more of a developmental practice for the younger players.

Head coach Paul Chryst met with reporters on Friday afternoon inside the McClain Center. He said the more experienced players will start practice about a week from now as Wisconsin begins preparation for Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2.

Here are the highlights from his seven-minute-plus chat with the media:

On Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis: “He’s one of those guys that you noticed during the year. When we played Northwestern, you saw him, they opened up with them, and Illinois, so there’s a couple of crossover opponents. Saw some things on TV with them. He’s a really talented player.”

How have injured inside linebackers Jack Cichy and Chris Orr helped out? “‘Cich’ and Chris have helped out a ton. They’re not coaches, but they’re players that understand the game. I think there’s that balance of they know the plan and they know what it’s like playing, and to try to help maybe confirm with Ryan or seeing or feeling or whatever it may be, but they’ve been a big help. Just their energy—they’re energy guys and that’s what you appreciate that.”

On his initial thoughts upon finding out Wisconsin was heading to the Cotton Bowl and facing Western Michigan: “I was fired up. Cotton Bowl’s one of those bowls. Historically, it’s been a big bowl, and anytime you get a chance to play in a bowl game that’s assigned by the committee, and then when you find out you’re facing one of two undefeated teams, it was exciting to me and I know to our kids, too.”

Are the players also “fired up,” or will they need some separation from the Big Ten Championship Game loss? “I think they’re excited to play. I think that’s a real thing, Jeff [Potrykus], and you have that. It’s not like a regular season, which sometimes good and bad because you got to turn the page on a Sunday. They’ve had this week to process it and also to focus on academics and kind of get them a chance to get away a bit from it. They’re excited about the next opportunity, and they know what it took to get the opportunity to play in the Cotton Bowl and certainly want to finish it out the right way and know it’s a good opponent. You don’t go undefeated without being a good football team.”

On how the coaches help players looking at their NFL options: “I think like all of them, you want to help gather information so they can make an informed decision, and I think that’s one role that in the past I’ve always done and will continue to do so. Then if someone has all the information, then they can make a decision that’s best for them. I think that’s the role that we should be in and can be in, and it’s good. We got a couple that should be looking into it, filled out the paperwork and we’ll get that back. Doing all the things you can to help them make the best decision for themselves.”

Would those two be Ryan Ramczyk and T.J. Watt? [smiles] “It’s like recruits.” (essentially, Chryst can’t say anything)

With the success of Russell Wilson in 2011, can it be beneficial to recruit other graduate transfer quarterbacks? “I think each person is unique. I really do feel each situation, each person, each team that you’re maybe or maybe not bringing him into—I do think that they’re all very unique, so that’s where it worked for Russell. It worked because Russell was a good fit with this team, and this team was good with Russell. I thought our group back then welcomed someone in to help, but also knew we were a pretty good team. And Russell was the right kind of guy, that he didn’t come in thinking he was going to save the world, but he could add value, and it worked. But I think I’ve been around it.

“We didn’t have a graduate transfer [this year]. Last year, we had one [linebacker Kellen Jones] and it didn’t work. We just got to do a great job of figuring out who the people are. I like the transfers we got, and I know they’re not all graduates like Nick [Nelson] and Chris [James] and Christian [Bell], but boy do they fit right in with this group.”