Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst continues to prepare his Badgers for their Jan. 2 showdown against undefeated Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl at Arlington.
UW (10-3) has continued preparation and practicing for their match-up against the Broncos after their disappointing 38-31 loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Championship game.
“I think it was when they came back on the field,” Chryst told reporters when asked when the players started to turn the page from the loss in Indianapolis.
“Really the first week, the guys that played a lot didn’t do anything. They had to get a couple of workouts in but didn’t, and I think they were still feeling it then. And then, the next Monday, Tuesday, they were running and they were saying it felt good — felt then they were going forward, I think. So I would say it was a week — by the time we came out — Thursday was when we had the whole team back. There was good energy and I felt like they were going forward.”
Here are the other highlights from Chryst’s 11-minute meeting with the media:
More on that question of when they turned the page from the Big Ten Championship game loss: “I think there’s still a taste in their mouth, but I like where they’re at that way. I think, when you watch Western Michigan, you see a team that can challenge you in a lot of different ways.”
What defensive linemen Alec James and Conor Sheehy bring to the defense: “I think both of them give you a ton of energy. I think they’re both good football players, and they give you energy to the team. They’re guys that played a lot of snaps that I think are significant parts to the success [of the team]. It’s good to have them. I think there’s a good chance with Conor. We’ll see for sure, but Alec’s doing more each day, so that part’s been good.”
On jet sweep’s evolved over the past couple of years: “Last year, we were hit and miss on it. I remember one was a big chunk against Illinois. Alex [Erickson] took one, and he had a couple but we were inconsistent. I think we’re just doing a better job running the football, and I think that’s where it’s good little change-up for it.”
On Western Michigan’s offensive line: “I think they’re a good O-line. I think what’s helped is that they’ve payed two teams that we played, so you got a point of reference. I think that they’ve got a good team. A lot of them show up — I think the wide receiver is special — but it’s not just him. The quarterback’s really good, the running back’s good.”
On redshirt senior safety Leo Musso: “I was around here following ‘Muss’ when he was in high school, and I think every guy’s journey’s different, but I’m really thankful to be around the last two years he’s had. He’s a heckuva teammate and had a really good year playing football. The players voted him team MVP. There’s a lot of things that he’s done and I think this has been said around here a long time, that if you’re going to have a good team, your seniors need to play their best football — and I think he would epitomize that.”
On Hornibrook and what he’s learned this year: “Boy, there’s so many lessons to be learned. It may be lessons are reinforced — ones that you know, but yeah, OK, easier said than done maybe. He’s got to take all of these experiences, finish out this year obviously, but in the off-season that’s him on the tape. It’s not someone else. He’s got to take that and grow. No different than any other guy but boy, there’s nothing like experience, and now that he’s got it, there’s a lot of areas that he can build on that are positive and a lot that he can get better at. They are controllable for him.”
Is there one area of improvement that stands out: “There are but I wouldn’t tell ya.” [laughs]
On Pitt transfer, running back Chris James, and what he does well. “He’s a good running back. He really is. I think this year, I think he, [Hawaii transfer and cornerback] Nick [Nelson], [Alabama transfer and outside linebacker] Christian [Bell] have done a good job improving and working. I think Chris has got a lot of physical skills that you like to have in a back. He’s got toughness and his ability to be a good inside runner, and he’s also got really good feet. This year, he’s progressed in some of the pass protection stuff, so the bowl prep, especially that early time, was really good for him — that group, he’s one of the group. I’m glad that he’s here.”