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Wisconsin Football: Jim Leonhard talks long term possibilities, injury updates, and more

Interim Head Coach Jim Leonhard hit on some interesting topics Monday afternoon.

Wisconsin v Northwestern Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Jim Leonhard era got underway on the right foot this weekend, but now the challenge of repeating it stands in front of him. Wisconsin has been up and down all season long but Leonhard seems confident that he can keep things going in the right direction. To open his presser he had this to say.

“Extremely proud of the way the guys responded, to go get a victory like that was a lot of fun... we need to turn the page fast, but was very happy after watching the tape to see how many guys played their best football of the season... happy for the confidence that showed on the field.”

After that, Leonhard was asked about what the Badgers did, and need to continue to do, to play a clean game as they had on Saturday.

“We shortened some things up...I think it's that time of year when the physicality has to scale back a bit to some degree. I think the number one goal is to be fresh on game day. We’re going to continue to tweak things, not saying we were doing it wrong, but I think it was the right time... we’re light numbers at certain positions... I think we had guys trying to do too much too early... more than anything getting back to basics.”

Later, Leonhard was asked an interesting question about his possible full-time gig. When asked about expectations and criteria that he needs to meet to possibly get the full-time Head Coaching job Leonhard had this to say.

“Number one, it's still early enough in my head that it's still kinda the day-to-day. Theres enough things that I am learning about what I am responsible for, who I need to communicate with, and what's happening when I can still kinda focus on the day-to-day. Eventually the big picture we’ll get there. Obviously, having gone through one week now I am able to have different conversations this week that I didn't feel nessicary to have last week. Will continue to grow within what’s being asked over the next six weeks. Not really concerned with the big picture, obviously if we play good football and we win games I’ll have a bigger opportunity to be in this role moving forward. That’s my focus right now... the big picture will come.”

After that, Leonhard was able to give some injury updates on running back Chez Mellusi and safety Hunter Wohler. Both will likely be out this week, and possibly beyond.

On Mellusi:

“Chez injured his wrist in the game, definitely going to be out this week probably more a week-by-week evaluation to see how long-term the injury may be.”

On Wohler:

“He has not been able to practice yet to this point, getting closer, doing more in rehab. Probably a situation where it is going to be close to the bye week whether before after... excited to get him back but just not that time yet.”

Wisconsin v Northwestern Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Leonhard was then asked about the transfer portal and how his approach is in that area of college football.

“I would say the transfer portal is only growing, it is going to continue to be a part of college football of the recruiting process and roster building in college football. You need talent, and you need experience, but you need to find that balance of how are you going to recruit your players and develop them and give them time, right? And not constantly jump over younger players. Lotta conversations on what is the right thing to do. We have to trust our ability to develop our players.”

Later, Leonhard was asked about his new role and how much different his current day-to-day is compared to his previous day-to-day role as defensive coordinator.

“To me, just less downtime. I have to communicate more with the coaching room and the offensive side of the ball, special teams, operations with scheduling, a lot more check-ins more so than meetings. A lot more decisions that have to be made.”

To finish things out, Leonhard was asked about the quarterback room. Specifically, the transfer of Deacon Hill, updates on Chase Wolf, and the ability of Myles Burkett.

“Starting with Chase, injury is progressing. Rehab is progressing. He’s not back to where he’s ready to be on the field yet but he’s moving in the right direction there. Myles next, impressed with his maturity. He’s a young kid obviously but handles his business every day and he continues to get better and continues to put in the work. So pleased with how he’s progressed early in his career... as far as Deacon, I have a ton of respect for Deacon and this is a little bit of the new normal. Kids have to weigh what they think their future is, where they stand, and what has the communication been with the staff... sometimes it gets to a point where they feel like they have to move on. We’ll do everything we can to support Deacon, think he’s got a ton of talent, I think he’s going to be a great quarterback at this level, unfortunatley it doesnt look like its going to be here.”