The bye week is officially behind us as the Badgers kicked off Michigan week Monday morning. Firstly, the injury report was recapped with a few notable names on there. The main focus was on nose tackle Bryson Williams who will be out this week.
That means true freshman Keeanu Benton will be the starter at the position, and thankfully for him he’s gotten a lot of quality snaps in the first two weeks of the season. Lineman Logan Bruss and linebacker Izayah Green-May are listed as questionable for this week.
After that, head coach Paul Chryst took to the stage to discuss his team’s prep for Michigan. Chryst touched on his excitement to get back with the players, and his excitement to get started in Big Ten play. After his opening comments, Chryst was asked about how his team measures up as they enter Big Ten play.
“Truthfully you’ve gotta play the whole season. Throughout any season you’re gonna experience all the emotions... we know we’ll be challenged in so many different ways throughout the course of the season, but I like where they’re at now and where they’re at coming into this game.”
Chryst was then asked about last year’s Michigan game and the struggle that the Badgers had throwing the football.
“When you look back at that one or any game like that its execution, or failure to execute. You can take a look at any one of those snaps and its two part: What can you do to better execute and obviously then there’s an opponent that you don’t have control over. Overall, it’s a good defense, and they’ll challenge you in a number of ways...when you get opportunities you have to take advantage of it.”
In conclusion, Chryst touched on this year’s Michigan team which has undergone a host of changes on the offensive side of the ball, and how the Badgers will be ready for that this week.
“You know you’re going to see things you’re not seeing on film, and you’ve gotta be able to adjust within the flow of a game. I think that’s a challenge that everyone faces throughout the year early in the year.” Chryst later added, “you’ve seen some new faces and certainly see a talented group. This year they’ve played two different types or styles of offense...they’ll be some things we’ve seen and will recognize, and then they’ll be some new looks for us.”
After Chryst finished, a handful of players came in to talk to the various media outlets. Firstly, linebacker Chris Orr discussed the changes to Michigan’s offense.
“It’s definitely different. They found a way to utilize everybody. It’ll be a fun test for us as a defense. We pride ourselves on being the best defense in the nation, we wanna be one of the best defense’s of all-time. Somebody that people remember, but you can only do that by beating good offenses. It’s going to be fun.”
Orr then touched how to prepare for Big Ten play and how things change with a bigger opponent.
“We’ve been playing football our whole life. There’s nothing different about this game. The only difference is the opponent. We prepare for every team the same. We’re going to come out with the same intensity we have for everybody... people get so caught up in the names, but at the end of the day its just football.”
Lastly Orr touched on his impression and presence of Keeanu Benton, who will see starting action this Saturday.
“Big. He’s big. Love having him out there...I told him If he’s making plays they’ll have no choice but to double on you...I’ve been impressed with him for sure, he’s got a high ceiling for sure...after our first scrimmage he made a few big plays. I knew then that he was going to play and help us out a lot.”
After Orr, Jonathan Taylor talked about his preparation and impressions of Michigan.
“Its the Big Ten opener...gotta do your best to prepare. Watch as much film as you can and really have a great week of practice and come in with a focus... they’re a great team. Last year they we’re fast. Great sideline to sideline team. They lost some guys, but they were able to fill in with a lot of good players so we shouldn’t expect much difference.”
Taylor then touched on him possibly getting fewer carries because of the success in the passing game, and how he handles that.
“When your number is called, you’ve gotta execute... it’s always great when you have a balanced run offense to make the defense play honest.”
After Taylor’s comments, I grabbed a few quick comments from Isaiahh Loudermilk and Jack Coan. When talking to Loudermilk, he discussed the ability of Shea Patterson and how the defense will prepare for the read option wrinkle which greatly hurt them last year at Michigan.
“We definitely wanna take away the pass, but going in we pride ourselves in stopping the run. The run is probably gunna come first. We’re gonna try and get pressure. Patterson is definitely hard to prep for (in the read option).”
Lastly, Coan talked about his big game from last week and how it felt to have a big output against Central Michigan and how that confidence will help him coming into this week.
“It felt great. It’s always good to go out and get a win, especially when the offense plays so well and the defense hold them to no points. Its fun playing off each other.”
Overall, the players seemed confident and ready to get back on the football field. While bye weeks are nice, it’s clear that they’re ready to get back to playing the game. They clearly have a ton of respect for Michigan no matter the changes, but its clear that the confidence in the group is there as they prep for the Wolverines. It will be the first big challenge of the season for UW, but they seem up to the task and ready to play Saturday afternoon.