The No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers lost to the No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday afternoon, 14-6. Somehow the game was worse than the final score indicates. Here is everything that head coach Paul Chryst had to say to the media after the game.
Chryst’s opening statement:
First of all, obviously disappointed. But give credit to Indiana. It’s a good football team. Knew coming in they’re a good team. A lot of respect for Tom and what he and the staff and players have done.
But any time you get a chance to play and compete, you want to win. Obviously I thought the kids put it out there and played, put forth the effort. That I really do believe. But you got to score more points to give yourself a better chance to win and we didn’t. Field goals in the red zone and touchdowns in the red zone, that makes a difference. Knew coming in they did a heck of a job as a defense of taking the ball away. We had the sack fumble. We just had a guy go the wrong way.
But you’ve got to play good football to give yourself a chance to be a good football team. If you’re not doing that, you make it harder. A little rushed on the second pick. Just got through it a little quick, didn’t make it happen.
Penalties offensively, defensively, special teams. We didn’t help ourselves. I think it comes back to good football gives you a chance to win. There was a lot of great effort and I think moments of really good play, but not enough. You’ve got to stack it together.
I thought defensively we did a nice job of stopping the run. Had some talented receivers. I thought we did a good job in a lot of things defensively. After I think it was the interception, we got a takeaway. Doesn’t hurt you that way. If you want to beat a good team, you’ve got to play good football. I think we had moments of it, but we certainly didn’t play well enough.
Chryst mentioned multiple times that he was proud of the effort of his team. While he clearly would have the pulse of the team it didn’t seem like the team was particularly inspired or interested in playing while watching the game.
He also noted the red zone struggles and the glut of penalties, both things that the Badgers have historically not had problems with. The eight to win penalty disparity between the two teams along with not scoring a touchdown on three trips to the red zone make it hard to win any games, let alone against a good Indiana team.
First, Chryst was asked about “maximizing the talent” on offense:
Well, I mean, we’ve got to look at it and see. I mean, we’ve had two games now where we didn’t score a lot of points. Two games before we scored a lot of points. I don’t know that I’ve got the answer for you right now on that.
But some guys stepped up. That part was good. I thought Chim (Chimere Dike) did some things offensively. Jalen (Berger) continues to give us some plays. Big run, we get a holding call on it, come back. Obviously we got to score more points than what we’ve been doing to give ourselves a chance.
It’s strange that Chryst notes Jalen Berger’s play and says that he “continues to give us some plays” but then he only gets 15 carries.
Next Chryst was asked about his offense’s struggles once they got past the IU 40-yard line.
Well, I mean, I know the two third-down plays in the red zone where we did kick field goals, going to K.P. (Kendric Pryor) Didn’t finish off the play there. Then at the end of the game... We didn’t make the plays down there. I’m anxious to go look at it.
To beat good teams, you got to make plays. We certainly didn’t make enough offensively.
Then Chryst was asked about the defense keeping Indiana’s talented wideouts mostly under wraps, one of the few things that went right for the Badgers on Saturday.
I thought the defensive staff put together a nice plan. I thought a combination. I thought we did a good job of getting pressure on their quarterback. I thought our guys rose up to the occasion. We knew we were going to face some good receivers. I thought guys made some plays.
They got us in the one where they dropped it, kind of a coverage beater. They got us on that. But I thought guys competed. I thought it was a good example just on the sideline watching it. Good run defense, takes all 11. Good pass defense, takes all 11. I thought there was some good play being done by our defense tonight.
It’s interesting that he mentions getting “pressure on their quarterback” because the Badgers only had one sack and one of IU’s touchdowns was scored when the Badgers brought the house and didn’t get to Jack Tuttle. And, as we’ve noted in other posts about this game, the pass defense looks a lot better because IU wideout Miles Marshall dropped a WIDE OPEN bomb that would have resulted in a touchdown.
Chryst was next asked about the two third-down plays in the red zone that went to Kendric Pryor in the endzone.
Well, they had a couple different things that they’d been showing down there. Knew that was a possibility I thought kind of the way it was going. Wasn’t surprised the ball went there.
I’m anxious to see on the other one. It would have been a nice play. I thought he had a chance to make it on the second one. Obviously anxious to go back and see it.
It’s a play that we’ve worked and felt like we had a chance. It kind of played out. Knowing that would be one of the options, you go through it, there’s a few. If they’re going to give you something, that was a possibility. We didn’t execute it right. We didn’t make it happen.
To my untrained eye, throwing a pair of jump balls to a 5-foot-11 WR who was in double coverage both times doesn’t seem ideal, but I may be remembering it wrong. I’m sure the Hoosiers had their focus on Jake Ferguson on these plays, but hopefully there was a better option than the one they went to twice unsuccessfully.
And, lo and behold, here is Chryst discussing the defense on Ferguson in the red zone.
We did. You kind of saw that on film against Penn State, who has a good player in 17. Ferg (Jake Ferguson) got the same deal. Rightfully so. He’s a good football player. They know that. That’s when you need the other guys also to step up.
Bottom line is, you get those opportunities, especially a close game like that, those end up becoming the difference maker, right? Obviously we’re going to do all we can as coaches to help them get a chance to come back. How does each guy, and how do we as a team, find a way to get better, get prepared and ready for our next opportunity.
Lastly, Chryst talked about true freshman Tanor Bortolini having to sub into the game at center for an injured Kayden Lyles.
I’m anxious to see. Certainly from the flow of the game, I thought he did a nice job. We didn’t have any, to my knowledge, the snap problems weren’t there. We had a day in camp where kind of the same type of thing where the centers go down, he jumped in, really took all the reps of the day. I was impressed with kind of the poise he had then. I thought he handled it well tonight also.
Certainly I can’t say that I could really speak knowledgeably on the play itself. I thought the other linemen, really the guys around him, did a good job of bracing. He had been working it.
Cormac (Sampson) had gotten hurt. Tanor (Bortolini) had been getting some reps, kind of winning this week knowing if something happened with Kayden (Lyles), it would be Tanor.
Had been getting that, but you hate it because of the injury. Didn’t necessarily think he’d get what he got. He gave everyone else a chance to go. I’m curious to see how he actually did play. But you appreciate that out of him certainly.
Bortolini was thrust into a difficult spot but it is disingenuous to say “to my knowledge, the snap problems weren’t there.” I know Chryst had’t gotten a chance to watch the film yet, but was he not watching the final drive of the game where Bortolini rolled multiple snaps back to Graham Mertz in the shotgun?