Here’s what head coach Paul Chryst had to say ahead of the highly-anticipated game:
When referring to the Ohio State offense, Chryst praised quarterback C.J. Stroud, who currently is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, as well as the offensive scheme that plays to player strengths.
“[C.J. Stroud’s] a heck of a quarterback. They’ve got a lot of great players around him and they do a great job of threatening and using the whole field, doing it in the run game and in the passing game. Got a lot of respect for the coaches and what they do and how they do it. Their players understand [the scheme] and that allows them to truly go out and play.”
CJ Stroud just made such a mind-blowing throw to Marvin Harrison Jr, my jaw is on the floor. pic.twitter.com/4KMTjdZAry— Willie Lutz (@willie_lutz) September 17, 2022
Additionally, Chryst specifically pointed out the ability to utilize the entire field as a strength of the Buckeyes’ offense, which will require Wisconsin to be at their best defensively.
“I think that they do a good job because they can make you defend the whole field. They’ve got good players so there is a good threat in the passing game, across the field, and in the run game,” Chryst said. “They have the ability absolutely to stretch you and when they do, [we] got to get as many hacks [at the ball] as we can.”
What specifically do the Badgers need to do defensively? Win 1-on-1s, according to Chryst, which will be a tough sell given the talented receiver core that Ohio State possesses.
“There’s going to be a lot of 1-on-1 battles [defensively] and can you win those 1-on-1s? I think that’s what it comes down to,” Chryst said. “Any quarterback that has time and is comfortable, the world’s a little bit easier for them. All 11 guys got to do their part and, in those moments, someone’s gotta win the matchup.”
However, in regards to his own quarterback, Chryst continued to re-iterate what he’s seen all year: the trust that Graham Mertz has in himself.
“I think he’s trusting himself, what he’s seeing, and those around them. Each week, you’re going to see something new. That’s always a new test and new challenge, but [I think] he’s not trying to do it all on his own. He’s letting those around him help him and that part’s been good.”
The biggest part of Wisconsin’s rushing attack, the running game, returned reinforcements this year in the form of Chez Mellusi and Isaac Guerendo.
When speaking about the latter and his speed following various injuries, Chryst placed full confidence in Guerendo, praising him for his comeback and lack of reluctance towards physicality.
“I think he’s playing with confidence. Especially with a guy coming off an injury, you sometime wonder around the physicality part of it. From the first day that he went, I didn’t question that at all. And I think his speed is coming,” Chryst said. “He’s looked good and is certainly a guy that we trust.”
The Badgers will need the entirety of their offensive and defensive core to put up strong performances if they want a shot against an elite Ohio State team this weekend.