MADISON — The Wisconsin Badgers (1-0), fresh off their high of defeating No. 5 LSU 16-14 on Saturday at Lambeau Field, return to Camp Randall Stadium to face MAC opponent Akron (1-0).
Head coach Paul Chryst spoke with the media on Monday afternoon inside the south end zone media room in Camp Randall. He confirmed true sophomore inside linebacker would be done for the year with a right knee injury.
"During the game, I was told that he was feeling pretty good, and for a while, thought he might be able to get back into the game," Chryst acknowledged during Monday’s press conference.
The Desoto, Texas, native suffered the injury on the first offensive play for LSU -- a three-yard gain by running back Leonard Fornette. Yesterday, Orr had the MRI and received the disappointing news that would cut short a possible breakthrough season.
"He came in the office," Chryst recalled. "Chris, he’s an interesting young man. He crutched in and said, ‘Just wanted to make sure you saw me smiling today.’ He goes, ‘I’ll be back,’ and I believed him.
"These kids do put so much into it, and you hate it for them."
Redshirt sophomore and former walk-on Ryan Connelly appeared on the first-team depth chart for defense, while true freshman Griffin Grady moved up behind him.
The Badgers turn their attention to the Zips, who defeated VMI 47-24 on Saturday. There’s always a threat of a letdown or hangover with such an emotionally charged victory like that two days prior in Green Bay, but Chryst saw players turning the page earlier in preparation for this week’s opponent.
"Yesterday was good. A lot of the kids were through the office and coming up," Chryst said. "I liked their approach to this week, and that’s the challenge you have every week is how you can prepare and full advantage of the opportunity you get to play the game. That’s the one thing about football -- we have twelve games on our schedule and hopefully we’ll earn the right to play more."
Other highlights from today’s press conference:
- Chryst on those stepping up at inside linebacker, and the status of inside linebacker T.J. Edwards (foot): "Guys have to step up and step in. T.J., we’ll see what he can do. I don’t know this week, next week, the week after — I don’t know, but at least T.J.’s coming back. Like I said, I don’t know at what pace. Ryan [Connelly] stepped in and will have to take on a bigger load. ‘Cich’ [inside linebacker Jack Cichy] the same."
- His reaction to the hit on D’Cota Dixon post-interception. "I saw the play. You know, the one thing I really think about that is I was really proud of the way our players responded. I thought that was big time and appreciative of that. That’s something that it’s so spontaneous and how two kids react. Really proud of how our players reacted to it."
- On his impressions of quarterback Bart Houston’s first career star: "Overall, I thought Bart was himself in the sense that it felt like he would compete. I thought he did a great job of competing. Thought he made some of the throws that were pretty clean for him. He made him. I think he was accurate on a lot of his throws.
- More on Houston: "I think that the one area that we talked about is how do you play the game. There’s that fine line. It’s not so much the science of quarterback but kind of the art of quarterbacking and situational awareness. I think that’s where he can grow, not just on the two picks, but other situations where he can progress. I loved the way he competed and responded when things didn’t go well."
- On the offensive line: "I thought [left guard] Jon Dietzen came in and for his first snaps, did some good things. I thought [right tackle] Ryan Ramczyk settled in. I thought he played really well in the second half particularly, so I think it’s this group right now that did some good things in game one. The challenge for us and opportunity for us is to improve upon that."
- On the fourth-quarter comeback and if there’s more energy with that win. "It’s hard to win football games. You put a lot into it each week, and certainly before the season, you put a ton into it. You want guys to enjoy when you win, and yet I think the lesson for our group is what gave you a chance to win. What gives you a chance to play your best? That’s in preparation and you bring that energy and you play with that. I think that I enjoyed every win and enjoyed every game. I think it was a good win against a good team. We’re fortunate, we get an opportunity to open up at home. We got to build on the things we did well."
- On the defense: "We’ve got confidence in our defense. Lot of guys stepped up and made plays in game one, and we need to do that again. We’ll be tested and challenged differently this week."
- Expanding further on his earlier comments on players’ approach this week: "I think that they see we can be a lot better, and yet, I don’t want to be hypocritical. I want them to enjoy the game and game day. That’s the best part of the week. What can you learn from it? What can you take away from it, and how can you apply that going forward? I didn’t need to prod the guys. Didn’t need to talk to them and tell them what to think. That’s what I was pleased to hear from them."
- On Akron and previous experience with Zips head coach Terry Bowden: "They’ve done a really good job. They were 8-5 last year, won their bowl game. Offensively, they’ll spread you out. Their quarterback has got a really strong arm but is also a good runner. I think their running back is a really good running back. They got some receivers that can run and got size. I think it’s going to stress us differently than last week where they’ll spread us out and we gotta play good assignment football. There’s times where you’ll be in one-on-one situations — we gotta make plays when we do."
- On Akron defense: "Defensively, they’re an active defense and will do some different things coverage-wise that guys have to be prepared [for] this week."
- More on Akron: "It’s going to be a different preparation, and that’s good. This team needs it. Each week is different."
- On secondary play: "I thought every one of them came up and when they had the opportunities, tackled well. I thought "Muss" (sp?) [senior free safety Leo Musso] particularly made some big plays, but the corners threw it in there. D’Cota made some plays. The passing game, we’re challenging. We’re one-on-one quite a bit, and won our share of the one-on-one battles."
- On fullbacks Alec Ingold and Austin Ramesh against the LSU defense: "I thought both did some good things for us. I think both have a chance to be good fullbacks for us. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but there’s some things where they can clean up and we need to."
- More on Ingold and Ramesh: "I thought both competed and played hard and made plays for us in different areas. I know ‘Ram’ had a good catch and run after it. Alec had one. Run game, pass protection, they did some good things, and I think there’s some areas where they know — they can see it — where they can get better."