Though the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers take their early bye this week before ramping up to start Big Ten play, the grind continues on for Paul Chryst’s squad.
Chryst, when speaking with reporters earlier on Thursday, noted that the players lifted on Monday and Tuesday but practiced Wednesday and Thursday. There will also be a practice on Friday.
“There are certain guys that aren’t practicing or practicing as much. There’s going to be a group of guys that are that next guy in, and it’s a really good time for them to get some good work,” Chryst said. “Maybe they’re not sore after playing a lot of snaps in three games, although we’ve been fortunate to get a lot of players some snaps, but it can be a really good week for our twos. Certainly, our ones, you’re kind of in the rhythm of the season, you want to stay sharp so you try to balance that.”
Here are the other highlights from Chryst’s chat with the media:
On Northwestern running back Justin Jackson: “I think he’s a really talented football player, a good runner—and I think the combination of him and [quarterback Clayton] Thorson—they complement each other really well. I think that’s what makes their offense, those are the challenges of their offense.”
About the effects wide receiver coach and passing game coordinator Ted Gilmore has had on the program: “I feel really fortunate with Ted, and certainly he brings a ton to our program. I think first as a coach, as a person, he’s really high quality and certainly does his job really well. Part of our jobs is recruiting, which Ted does really well. He’s an experienced recruiter, a confident recruiter, and I think a lot of that is evaluation and getting to know people, so you bring in the right person. Certainly, he does a really good job of working with our receivers, and therefore, that’s the development piece that I feel really fortunate I get to work out with him.”
What stood out about Gilmore when Chryst was putting together his staff? “I knew of his track record and knowing people that knew him, and then [offensive coordinator] Joe [Rudolph] had worked with him, so that’s always nice when you got someone that knows him day in and day out. Certainly, when you get a chance to meet him, you feel really excited that there’s that opportunity, and I’m glad that he’s here.”
During the bye week, do you use that week to work on a number of future opponents, or just the next one? “I think it gives coaches a little bit of time, but I think the primary focus of the bye week has got to be your team and your players. Certainly, depending upon when it falls, I think there’s always a fundamental component. Where you at right now, and can you take advantage of that extra time to hone in on a couple fundamentals? Then you get the idea of what’s to come, but that’s also why you do it in the summer so maybe you’re looking to see what’s changed or what information do you have. But whether it’s a weekly preparation or in the bye where you could doing what you’re saying, I think it’s all about putting the focus and energy on yourself and making sure you’re improving. I think that’s what we have to do this week, I think we’ve had a good week of it, but that we’re getting ourselves better more than anything about the opponent. We’ve got a normal week of preparation for each opponent, so I think it’s a great time to focus on your our team.”
How to split up carries between Bradrick Shaw and Jonathan Taylor, and if it differs now from when the season opened: “I thought we had a pretty good idea of where we’re at with Jonathan, and certainly he’s done some good things. Each week’s a new week, and to spend too much time trying to map out what’s going to happen when we all know as the season progresses—there’s whether it’s health-related issues or what you’re doing, what type of game, even in the course of a game, what kind of game it’s going to be—so I think you just get all your guys ready that can help ya, and a lot of the time it sorts itself out.”
On NU defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz: “I really enjoyed working with ‘Hank.’ He’s a guy that’s one, a a really good football coach, and I thought a really good person. I really enjoyed going down and talking football with him and certainly a ton of respect for ‘Hank.’”
On Jon Dietzen’s health and if he’ll be available for Northwestern: “We’ll see. I do feel good that he’s getting better, but we’ll see how that all works out the rest of this week and next week.”