The snow is melting, the rain is falling and the birds are chirping. Yes, I know it’s barely spring and we’ve got an entire summer before football but spring practice is really starting to build some excitement. That excitement heightened when our fearless leader, the man of many words, coach Paul Chryst spoke to the media ahead of spring practice. Here’s what Chryst had to say about the coming weeks of spring practice and the season overall.
Coach Chryst first talked about what spring practice is and does for the team, after a long winter conditioning it appears the guys are ready for the upcoming 15 practices which will start up after spring break rather than this week, as originally announced.
#Badgers were set to start spring ball tomorrow but the HC had a change of heart and pushed it back to March 22 to give players time after winter workouts. UW will still get 15 practices in.— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) March 9, 2020
“Spring ball itself is how can each individual get better. It’s our job as Coaches to help them get better and its not as much about what were doing. Obviously you’re putting in your base offense and defense... spring ball is about developing each player and earning a chance for what your role will be in the Fall. Spring ball is always a good time and I think the players will be looking forward to it. Excited to get it going when they come back from break.”
After that, Chryst was asked about what new wide receiver coach Alvis Whitted will bring to the Badgers, who comes to UW from the Green Bay Packers.
“Certainly he can give us his background not just with the Packers but as a player. I was also really impressed with what he did with the players at Colorado State... I think its a combination of his background and helping us schematically, but the biggest thing is the development of players and that’s where I am excited.”
After that, Chryst followed up about who he might expect to fill the holes at wide receiver.
“You got four seniors that have played and then got a younger group with A.J. Abbott, Taj (Mustapha) Stephan Bracey, and we’ve got one new early enrollee in Chimere Dike... that group, it will be a really good Spring for them... it’ll come from that room but you don’t know who it is. Spring’s a great opportunity for them. For example, KP (Kendric Pryor) will need to take some reps in the slot to see if that’s something he can do.”
Then the tough question came of replacing Jonathan Taylor, an impossible task, but one that the team will have to do with a multitude of players.
“Grosh is back, Nakia grew a lot last year. Anxious to see Isaac Guerendo and Julius Davis, we’ll get him going. Not going to worry right now about how we are going to play the Fall. All those guys will get great reps in the Spring.
Then came the question of quarterback, specifically how reps will be divided as they work into spring ball with Jack Coan and Graham Mertz.
“For each guy, spring’s a great time to improve your craft. Jack did do a lot of really good stuff last year, one of his strengths as a player is working to get better. He needs to, we all do. Spring there will be a lot of reps whether it be Jack. Graham, Chase, or Danny. Not worrying how we’re playing the Fall. Just excited to see what we can make of the Spring.”
The conversation then shifted to the defense, specifically to the departure of Chris Orr and Zack Baun, and how those two will be replaced as leaders.
“We’ve got guys who have played a lot in Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk. Jack Sanborn had a ton of snaps last year. That’s what is important about Winter conditioning and Spring ball. New leadership develops in a different way... guys will emerge. We’ve got a number of guys who can be a leader like Eric Burrell who’s played a lot of ball... I’m anxious to see who kind of emerges as genuine leaders.”
Overall, it’s clear that the focus for Chryst and the staff is on developing the players with reps. The fans and media alike certainly want the hard questions answered, but it just isn’t time for that yet. Spring ball is about repetition, and providing a timetable for guys on the roster to emerge as they head to fall camp. Either way, I am just excited to get this whole thing going.
The Badgers also released an injury report which lists who will not be participating in spring practice.