Despite a less than stellar performance on Saturday, the Badgers were able to come away with a victory against Purdue, setting up a winner take all for both the Axe and the West Division title.
Let’s be honest, you already knew that, though. Still, all eyes will be on Minneapolis this weekend to take in one of the best rivalries in the sport. Here’s what Head Coach Paul Chryst had to say about the biggest game of 2019 thus far.
Coach Chryst opened the presser by talking about the motivation from the team to not only get the win, but get the Axe back in Madison after last season’s loss.
“Each individual is motivated by a number of different things. A lot of it is on experiences right? I think that you’re equally motivated by good things and things that didn’t go the way you’d like them to go and what you can do to change that outcome. Certainly, there is a lot of motivation for this game. It comes down to having to play good football. That’s what the focus has to be on to be the best team you can be.”
After the opening comments, Coach Chryst touched on whether or not Minnesota parading the Axe around the state all year motivated himself, or his team.
“They can do what they want to, they earned the right to have it. I didn't spend a lot of time following it or tracking it. Last year they beat us. The winner gets the Axe.”
Later on, Coach Chryst was asked about the challenge they’ll face with Minnesota’s talented receivers and where they are most different from last year’s Minnesota team.
“They’re really playing at a high level. The receivers are really good players. The backs run incredibly hard. they’ve got a good system and the quarterback executes it and puts the ball in a position to make the catch, they compliment what they’re doing team wise. It’s a really good offense and good players running a good scheme.”
Additionally, Chryst was asked about Minnesota’s ability to hit on big plays, and how his defense who’s struggled to limit those the past few weeks will look to improve.
“There’s no doubt they’ve been very explosive. They’ve got pieces that are all capable... we don’t want to give those up. If they do, you’ve got to go and play the next play. That’s the way you have to approach it playing this game.”
After that Chryst talked about the Minnesota defense and what he’s seen from a strong Gopher secondary, specifically Antoine Winfield Jr.
“He’s a heck of a football player. He impacts the run and the pass from the safety position... obviously has a great sense of the game. Any good player sees thing well and plays with confidence, and he’s playing at a high high level.”
Chryst lastly talked about what the message is for Axe Week this week given how big of a game it will be.
“The message is that the Axe is symbolic. It’s awesome to be a part of a rivalry such as this. It’s the longest continued rivalry. It’s a symbol of who won that year and our guys know the history of this rivalry. They understand what’s in it for this year. The biggest thing that matters is that they focus on playing the game.”
It appears that despite the huge implications of Saturday’s game that Coach Chryst has remained grounded and relaxed. I believe that plays a big role in a game like this as you want your players to be focused on the task at hand rather than the implications after. With so many emotions running through every player, coach, and fans head it’s good to see that Coach Chryst is focused on having a good week of practice and executing on Saturday afternoon.