Both Wisconsin (3–0) and Northwestern (2–1) come off of bye weeks to prepare for a West division showdown. Now four games into the 2017 season, UW head coach Paul Chryst was asked on Monday how preparation changes heading into Big Ten play with a more familiar opponent in Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats.
“Well I think that Northwestern in particular—and credit to Pat and what they’ve been doing—there’s a lot of continuity in the staff and so you’ve got an idea of what they’re going to do offensively, defensively, and special teams,” Chryst said. “Like anyone, you can see them kind of change and evolve and adjust to their personnel. I think that not just cause you’re in the Big Ten, but when you do go up against someone, just like they know us, we feel like we have an idea of what they want to do schematically. With that, there are some challenges but different challenges than if you don’t know what to expect.”
Here are more highlights from Chryst’s press conference:
What has stood out most about true freshman running back Jonathan Taylor and how he and Bradrick Shaw complement each other? “I think Jonathan’s continuing to grow and get better, and certainly I thought did a lot from the time he came to give himself a chance to be ready and to be able to participate and add to this team this fall. I think that all of our backs can complement each other. I’m anxious to see Bradrick do more this week, and I think that they’re capable of being good players. They’re capable of giving us good production and I think that in some ways, complement. They each have their own style and I don’t think you ever look to try to have one style to complement another style. I think can they give you valuable reps and certainly, Jonathan and Bradrick are really capable of that.
What Chryst saw from Natrell Jamerson at free safety during the BYU game that maybe shows him becoming more comfortable at that position: “I think it’s the BYU game because it was our last game, but I’ve liked his progression, and one of the tell signs that he is is the communication piece and is he communicating? You’re hearing more of that from him. Then you can just see a guy that’s familiar playing the position, looks comfortable, and that’s something that’s probably harder to tell from just someone that stands up there but I think that he’s gaining confidence and [is] continuing to grow. I think he’s got a chance to be really good. I think it’s a good spot for him, too.”
On cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams: “I think he’s continuing to grow and gain that experience that helps him, and each time that you get to play, you’ve got to have those takeaways. What are things that he’s done well? Build on them. And negatives, I’m sure there’s some he’d like to have back, and I thought he’s done a really good job. We just got to continue to help him grow.”
The team may not be out on the field during the national anthem, but have you felt the need to address anything going on outside with the team? “I always feel the need to talk with our players about everything that you think might be on their minds. I’ve done that for a long time and want to continue to do that. I can learn from talking to them and get a sense of where they’re at, and whether it’s what was kind of a lot’s been talked about this weekend, whether it was two weekends, three weekends ago, a number of kids we thought their families were going to be affected by weather.
“Then there’s a number of other kids that have things going on at home that’s not a national story but it’s real to them, so I think the more that we can talk to our kids and learn and help them go through all the things that they go through at this time in their life. This time, whether it’s a national thing, whether it’s a local [thing], I think you try to talk to them and learn and hear, and I’m proud.
More from that answer: “I think that’s one of the areas, one of the things that I appreciate most about being at Wisconsin, particularly with this group of guys, is that there are thoughts and well-thought-out feelings and opinions. They challenge each other or they’ll talk it out. It’s one of the parts of my job that no one sees it but that I really appreciate.”