The weekly Monday press conferences have returned for head coach Paul Chryst as the Wisconsin Badgers prepare for their season-opener against the No. 5 LSU Tigers. Chryst met with the media late Monday afternoon to discuss defending LSU running back Leonard Fournette, the evolution of Wisconsin’s offensive line and attending Lambeau Field—the site of Saturday’s game—during spring practices.
"I thought the kids had a really good energy to them and look forward to this week’s preparation for the game obviously," Chryst said. "I liked the way that the week started, and we got to continue to build momentum."
Chryst confirmed redshirt sophomore inside linebacker T.J. Edwards was ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Tigers, along with offensive lineman Logan Schmidt.
Here are the highlights from Chryst’s press conference (the full video is embedded above):
- On embracing the underdog role (LSU is favored by 10 points): "I know who we are as a team. I don’t really get caught up in underdog [or] favorite. The opportunity we have is to play our best game, and that’s what you work for, and that’s what you get to go out and do each and every Saturday. I’m not concerned about what everyone else says. I’m concerned about how we approach and ultimately how that transfers into how we play."
- On what playing SEC games in three straight years does for Wisconsin’s program and its future: "I’m not sure on the future scheduling and all that, but I think for your players, I think they’re great opportunities playing against really good football teams. They happen to be the last three against the SEC, but I think when you open up against a really good team, I think your older players, your good players, they look forward to the competition. I think your younger players have an opportunity to grow up quick. One of the things that you always find out in your first game is an accurate indicator of who you are at that point and where do you have to go. I know our kids are excited about this game, and I think having been in the last three years playing against a really good opponent, they know what to expect. Those that have been through it, it’s part of their responsibility to share that with the younger kids who haven’t and us as coaches do the same, but I think it’s a really great way to start the season."
- On his comfort with the offensive line being in sync despite batting injuries for much of fall camp: "I like the work that they’ve been doing and the time that they’ve been putting in. I think it’ll continue to evolve. Even if they would have been at every practice this fall camp, I didn’t they we’d get to that point that ‘we’ve arrived.’ I do like the way that they’ve been approaching it."
- More on the linemen: "I like where they’re at with the cards that have been handed to them, but we still gotta keep going. It’s critical. It’s fun to see when everyone knows what the next guy next to them is thinking and saying, we just gotta keep working away at that."
- On LSU running back Leonard Fournette: "He is a really talented football player. I think for good reason he’s being talked about as one of the best in the country. It’s always important when playing against a good player, you gotta do all you can to contain him to try to minimize—they’re going to make plays, he’s going to make plays. What makes him good is that he’s extremely talented. I think he’s got really good players around him, and looks to me like he loves playing the game."
- On the identity of Wisconsin’s defense: "One of the things that I’ve really liked and appreciated from Justin [Wilcox] is [that] it isn’t about him, and I think it’ll take on the identity of the players. I would guess if we’re good on defense, it’s gonna take on the personality of Vince Biegel and T.J. Watt. We like the group of down linemen with Olive [Sagapolu] and Alec [James] and Conor [Sheehy] and Chikwe [Obasih]; the personality of [Chris] Orr and [Jack] Cichy and T.J. Edwards. The personality will come out of them, and that’s what we’re looking for."
- On the Lambeau Leap and if it’s a penalty: "I would love to see a touchdown." The media laughed, and Chryst did acknowledge it would be a penalty.
- What to expect with Dave Aranda’s LSU defense after spending a year with him as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator: "I think that every time you go into the game you have a plan and base it on the knowledge that you have. You know that in that game there’s going to be some things that you don’t prepare for, and we talk about that with our kids a bunch—whether we’re playing this week with LSU or it’ll be the last week of the season, it’d be the same thing. You gotta be careful I think in game planning and preparation that you’re not creating ‘ghosts’ or things that could happen."
- On being worried if Bart Houston will try to do too much against LSU: "I think that’s one of those things you always have to manage, whether it’s the quarterback in Bart, whether it’s anyone on the team trying to do too much—you have to trust who you are and trust the preparation and work that you’ve put in. I think those are natural tendencies of guys that are really competitive. I think Bart’s that, and yet he’s got to learn to manage that and handle that." Chryst also mentioned that it’s not just Houston but anyone else on the team, including Vince Biegel and Corey Clement.