After a week off the Badgers took to the field and put together a lackluster effort against the Indiana Hooisers on Saturday. Wisconsin fell 14-6, and the struggle on the offensive side of the football seemed very apparent. Now the Badgers get ready for another tough test as they prepare for the No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes. Despite that, much of the focus was on the previous week in today’s presser.
To start, coach Chryst cleared up the confusion from previous broadcasts that mentioned he had been calling the plays offensively. The belief was that it was in fact offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, which was confirmed by Chryst in the presser.
"Joe has been calling the plays. I do what I can to try and help set it up." - Chryst, discussing who has been calling the offense this season— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) December 7, 2020
Later on Chryst was asked why he decided to give up the play calling duties. In his answer he said there were a number a reasons. Ultimately it came down to himself not wanting to spread too thin and neglect other parts of the program, and his trust in coach Rudolph and the offensive coaching staff.
"It's a number of different factors. There was a lot of time spent in the off-season where you weren't able to do all the needed homework.... that combined with the trust I have in Joe and the offensive staff." - Chryst, sharing insight on why he gave up the play calling.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) December 7, 2020
Of course, there was a reason for all of those play calling questions. The offense has, lets just say, seen better days. Yes the personnel is young and somewhat limited due to injuries and, ya know, a pandemic but that certainly isn’t the only reason. One bright spot of the offense has been true freshman RB Jalen Berger. Despite averaging 5.9 yards per carry, Berger has only gotten 15 carries in each game over the last three contests. When Chryst was asked if that was by design with some sort of pitch count Chryst had this to say.
"Pitch counts are for baseball." - Chryst, on Jalen Berger getting 15 carries in each of the last three contests. Apparently, that is JUST a coincidence.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) December 7, 2020
Well, if it’s just a coincidence then maybe the Badgers will allow their best player to touch the ball a bit more this week. We can all certainly hope.
One other question about the offense rose as well in the availability of QB Jack Coan. Coan was able to dress last week and many thought he could see action given some of the struggles of a young quarterback in Graham Mertz. According to Chryst, things are still “wait and see” but progressing.
"The number one factor has been where is Jack along with his progression. Last week he made some strides with it... we have to see how this week goes for Jack. That's first and foremost and a big part of it." - Chryst, on the possibility of Jack Coan playing moving forward.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) December 7, 2020
It’s a tough decision, and not one I envy making, but that is why they are paid the big bucks. The 2020 season has been a struggle for a lot of programs but the Badgers will hope to end it on a high note as they prepare to take on Iowa and then possibly Indiana or maybe even Minnesota come championship weekend. It’s been a tough season thus far but wins against those programs and a bowl win would certainly be a nice finish as the focus turns to 2021.