It's about time for the Badgers to get back on the football field. The bye week is officially over and head coach Paul Chryst kicked off Week 4 with his weekly Monday morning press conference. Here is a recap of all that went down.
Right off the bat, Chyrst was asked the first of many questions about this week’s main storyline, Jack Coan. Chyrst was asked if he has noticed any changes in Coan’s game in his first three starts with Notre Dame.
“I think that as you watch and you see, I mean there’s obviously enough difference... different team. He’s always going to work and continue to work to improve and I think certainly there’s a storyline. I think it’s important that it’s Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame. Obviously we have respect for Jack, and appreciate who he is as a person and player here, a teammate... but it’s Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame.”
Following that, Chryst touched on Graham Mertz’s ability to get all of his receivers involved on the offensive side of the ball.
“You always want to have enough ways that you can spread the ball around, and then the game will dictate, a little bit, where it goes or to who it goes to... You want to be able to attack the field, different spots on the field and with different people. Some games play out that way more than others.”
Next, Chryst was asked about how Wisconsin will game plan for Notre Dame’s standout safety Kyle Hamilton.
“He is talented, right? My history is that you focus too much on one guy, and you know, you want to rob Peter to pay Paul... You play a good team, they’re going to have really good players, and I think that’s what we’re facing this week. A number of really good players and a well coached team at that... The good players, you know where they’re at but you have to be careful not to overcompensate and then you can hurt yourself in other ways.”
Chryst was asked about the distribution of carries among the Wisconsin running backs.
“It depends, and certainly any time, I don’t care what position it is, if you’ve got more than one guy than can contribute, that’s a good thing for a team. And yet, not too long ago where we didn’t have as much, we’re going to ride Jonathan Taylor. And still other backs got carries, and that was a good thing to have too. We like the group, obviously I think they’re gaining experience as we continue on, but I think this year for this team, we’re going to need all of them. We need them to continue to develop.”
Following that, Chryst talked about the keys to success for the most impressive part of this year’s team, the front seven.
“I think we’ve got some really good players, and I think we’ve done a nice job of scheming appropriately, and get where guys know what they’re doing and they can cut it loose and play. And that’s what’s kind of fun about the game, is each week it’s going to be a different challenge, and certainly we’ll be challenged this week.”
The press conference then circled back to Coan. Chryst was asked if Coan’s transfer has left any bad taste in his mouth given their close relationship.
“You want to respect decisions and go with it, and then you do move on, I think you have to move on.”
Chryst gave his thoughts on the controversial targeting rule that has people debating across college football.
“I think big picture, certainly there’s attention and you have to, I think as players and coaches, you certainly coach to it different than when there wasn’t the rule. You said it, when you have multiple offenders, someone who does it multiple times, that’s a little tricky. Are they getting it? I just think back now of all the one’s that we’ve kind of been associated with, there are some that it was definitely not the intent... that’s the one that I don’t know how to tell you. You want to keep the head out of it, right? There are some of those where, we kind of all know it where there’s someone launching themselves at it and when they’re not. That’s hard I think to put into a rule, but I think we kind of all know it. I appreciate what the original intent was, but a lot of them, there's going to be some of those that I don’t think that's why the rule was put into place. I think that's one thing that’s tricky for the officials... I don’t know that I have the right answer.”
Before the season, Mertz talked about his goal this season to be more poised in the pocket. Chryst was asked where he thinks Mertz is in his route to achieving that goal.
“I think he’s working through it. I think he’s had some where he has done that and I think there were some early where he wasn’t as poised in the pocket. He does a good job in practice when those situations occur... that’s when you have to do it, right? You have to be how you play. I think it’s a work in progress but I think he is progressing.”
Chryst ended the press conference by noting that football is a team game so even though people will bill this game as “MERTZ vs. COAN” that’s not how the Badgers are looking at it. He also mentioned that games like this are why kids choose to come to Wisconsin.