MADISON—Another Monday, another weekly press conference for Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst.
His team comes off a 59-10 win over Utah State where struggles through the first half were apparent, but the last two quarters showed an explosiveness and potential many have seen.
Now Wisconsin (1-0) faces Florida Atlantic (0-1), under the guise of new head coach Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff.
“I think there’s certainly an energy,” Chryst said when asked about what Kiffin has brought to FAU, “and I think that in watching their game, their score wasn’t what they wanted, but they flew around and you saw a lot of good football players. I think that he’s brought an energy to them, but that’s from the outside looking in and watching tape.”
Preparing for a team like the Owls, who started the Kiffin era off on the wrong foot in losing to Navy 42-19 down in Boca Raton Friday night, can be a challenge. Despite completing touchdown passes of 95 and 62 yards from the arm of quarterback Daniel Parr, the offense only mustered 326 total yards (only 40 rushing).
Navy ran wild over Florida Atlantic to the count of 416 yards and five rushing touchdowns on nearly 6.1 yards per attempt.
Chryst, when asked about the difficulty in preparing for a team like the Owls with a new coach and only one week of film from the current 2017 roster, noted the Badgers will always look at themselves first.
“I think that’s always a challenge when you don’t know, and I think that’s why one of the reasons our approach to every game is first and foremost to focus on the things that we can control,” Chryst said. “Certainly the opponent’s a big part of it, and whether you’re defending that offense or trying to attack that defense or have to run a punt return vs. this type of punt, you have to know your opponent. But the number one most important thing is that we focus on all the things that we can control, and that is yourself, and so we’ll always have that first and foremost in our preparation.”
Among the other highlights from the Labor Day press conference:
- On penalties: “Well I think certainly the pre-snap penalties you try to minimize, you would like to eliminate them, but you want to certainly minimize them. We had two false start, and defensively we jumped. Then, we had two blocks in the back in the kicking game. I think those are bigger penalties than the others because of the swing of yards. They end up being 30 yard penalties instead of 10 or 15 or 5, but not one kid went and tried to, ‘this would be a great time to commit a foul.’ I don’t believe that but we’ve got to do a better job. We got to clean it up, and it starts with guys being accountable, not being anxious and certainly in the end, it’s too many.”
- On what he saw from left guard Jon Dietzen, who was dinged up a bit during fall camp: “Yeah, it was nice today to see him bouncing around because Jon has gone through some different areas where he’s missed some time, so it was good to see him play the number of snaps that he did and I thought he really had a bounce in it. It felt good after the game. That’s one of the guys, you certainly don’t check in on every kid after the game, but that’s one that I found myself wanting to to see ‘how are you feeling?’ We think Jon’s a good football player and yet there is value to camp. I think there were some things that he had to work through. It was good for so many of our players to get the snaps. There’s a different feel to games, there’s an urgency to it. You spend a lot of time, we just came out of camp and we probably had 1200, 1500 snaps. I think there’s a time in camp where, ‘Oh I’ll have the next play to correct what I did.’ Now, we’re in a game and we were in the low 70s offensively and defensively. You don’t have as many as those. I think there’s an urgency to each of them.”
PC on 3-TE sets' effectiveness: Depends on team you're facing and how they defend it. You don't know until they face the team.— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 4, 2017
- On assessing the run game: “In the run game, we certainly had some good plays, but we felt like we left a lot of yards out there that we didn’t maximize the opportunities that we had. We spent some time with them this morning, the smallest of details—the split by a lineman or the back being patient enough to see. I felt like each back kind had a couple where they just didn’t hit where it was designed to go. We don’t know, but you got a chance for it to be bigger. I think we had a couple mental mistakes that didn’t give us a chance at all.”
- On running back Bradrick Shaw, who’s questionable with a right leg injury: “He did some stuff, so we’ll see on Brad.”
- On Shaw and Jonathan Taylor: “I thought that each guy had their moments, and I thought one thing about Jonathan that typically a freshman, first game—and I know he was excited—can sometimes speed up everything. And yet I thought he had a pretty good tempo to him. I was impressed with that. I think Brad, certainly one of the things that we like about him is when he takes it north and south, when he can hit a hole, and I thought there were some times that he got a little bit ahead of it. Both had some really good moments in it. Then, I thought Chris [James] was in a little bit more on third downs. Chris, I thought, was kind of bouncy a little bit. We got to settle him down, and part of that might be [he] hadn’t played.”
- On true sophomore wide receivers Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor: “I think the biggest area of improvement that Q and A.J. have is confidence in themselves, and I think part of that comes from knowledge of what they’re doing. I think they know what better to expect. Last year, how does a game go? How will I feel? So I think they’ve experienced a little bit, but they’ve both have kind of earned that confidence by working so I think they’re more relaxed because they have a more genuine confidence in themselves.”
- On Zander Neuville’s importance to Wisconsin offense: “I think Z’s really important. He’s earned the right to play and he gives us great energy. It’s been fun to see him over this year and probably couple of weeks maybe learning the position. I think you saw it even what he means to the team. There were a lot of guys that were excited when he scored, and I think you see that when other teammates—it’s a guy that they know who works and they appreciate what he does—and to get a moment like that, I think kind of is reflective of how we as coaches feel. He brings a lot of value to this team.
- On Jack Coan’s reps and importance of getting him gametime experience: “I think it is important. We thought we could get a few more snaps, and then the [Joe Ferguson] pick changed the normal way of it. But the first one, we were supposed to have a motion, and he didn’t send the guy in motion, and those all good things for him to have to go through. And why didn’t he? Probably there’s a little bit of nerves maybe in it, so I think getting those first snaps for so many kids was really important. They’re always going to remember them, and that means that they value them and so I think anytime you can get through the first, it helps you.”
- On offensive line communication issues and what to fix them: “In the early games, you don’t know quite know what all you’re preparing for. I felt like at times, they were going to kind of do some things that were maybe a little bit, I don’t want to say not sound, but they were gonna ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ a little bit, so some of your base rules don’t hold up. But I thought the kids worked through it. I think when we struggled, it was as much—on the second run we had, we had two kids go the wrong way and not running right. Once we settled in and did, I thought Tyler did a nice job, and yet he doesn’t have to be—nor should he be, the only one to communicate there. I thought the guys did the nice job of kind of sorting through the looks that they were getting. Some good, and certainly some things that we’ve got to clean up.”