MADISON — The college football regular season swing started off on Sunday, as Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst met with the media to discuss the Badgers’ depth chart, injuries, and more.
No. 4 Wisconsin takes on Western Kentucky on Friday evening, and Chryst admitted “it’s always interesting when you play an opener.”
“You don’t quite fully know your own team, nonetheless your opponent,” he added.
Here are the highlights from Chryst’s Sunday press conference:
- Mason Stokke was already listed as the No. 2 fullback after switching from inside linebacker. Regarding that switch, Chryst said: “Mason’s a guy that certainly we’re excited to have on the team and really just had some unfortunate injuries. And yet, looking at the combination of what he could do and the depth at our inside linebacker spot and the depth at fullback—and also where he’s been with his contributions on the special teams—I thought it would be a good fit for me. First day, [he] certainly took to it. There’s a lot to learn, but he’s a quick learner and feel good about that switch actually.”
- If he was optimistic about Rafael Gaglianone returning and doing what he’s done in the past: “We were. Part of it was going through similar things with Raf and then also knowing the timetable on it where he could get back in and get some work before it, so I thought when he came back, he was good. So I do feel confident in Raf there.”
- On the defensive end group: “I thought Matt Henningsen had a heckuva camp. I thought Kayden Lyles had a heckuva camp. So you can see their growth.”
- At cornerback, where Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams are listed as starters for week one: “I thought Jimmy [Leonhard] said it really well when we were talking about it. We like a lot of that group and where they’re at, and if you don’t have a huge natural separation, I think one thing that can separate is consistency, and I think that’s what you saw in ‘Caes’ and Faion, the consistent approach to it. They’re young, they need to keep growing—that whole group needs to continue to keep growing—but they want to and they’re really coachable. I think what becomes kind of a separator, though, is the consistency of it.”
- On his expectations of opposing defenses focusing on running back Jonathan Taylor: “Yeah, I think that you would have to say certainly, and yet, it seems like our running back and the run game have always had a lot of focus put on it by opponents. That hasn’t changed and yet certainly, if you’re going to play us, you know that we’re going to run the football, and we’ll always get a lot of attention out of that.”
- Expectations of wide receivers Adam Krumholz and Jack Dunn short-term and long-term: “I think that both Adam and Jack have played in games, and then I would also add in there’s a couple other young receivers in Taj Mustapha and Aron Cruickshank.”
- On Jon Dietzen and Cole Van Lanen, and if they expect them to play a lot against the Hilltoppers: “We do expect them both to play, heck maybe even on the first play we’ll start ‘em both and go with that, I don’t know yet.”
- To a follow-up question at the end of the presser about using Van Lanen as a tight end like they did last year with Zander Neuville out: “You know what, we’ll see, but we’re going to try to play our best players.”
- On how the team has handled the situation with Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis suspended: “I’m proud of the way this group’s handled it.”