Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst spoke with the media on Monday following Saturday’s 38-0 rout of the Illinois State Redbirds, addressing the safety position, Myles Burkett, and other intriguing topics during his weekly presser.
When asked about the safety depth and their performances, Chryst was appreciative of several efforts, noting that they’ll be necessary with starting safety Hunter Wohler out for a period of time.
“Titus had a nice fit in the one run and Kamo’i showed up a number of times in the run game, and in the pass game, he made a good play. Preston Zachman, who hadn’t played, was good. Even [John Torchio], it was a new role for him,” Christ said. “I like the way it started, and certainly, like I said with the whole group, we got to keep going.”
Currently, Kamo’i Latu is listed as the top safety opposite of John Torchio, but on Tuesday, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard to me that the team will implement several different players to test who fits best in what role.
In the secondary, the Badgers hope to get some key players back in Alexander Smith and Justin Clark, who suffered hamstring injuries and missed Week 1.
Chryst felt optimistic on Monday that Clark would return, but acknowledged that he’d have to continue responding well in practice throughout the week.
“I think we’ll be able to find this week, particularly with Justin [Clark] and kind of where he’s at. It’s been going well for him and getting a good tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday practice out of him, then I think we’re optimistic certainly, but we’re going to need those practice days.”
Leonhard iterated a similar message on Tuesday, expressing positivity towards the returns of Smith and Clark, but understood the delicacy of hamstring injuries, making it a waiting game.
Perhaps the biggest development of Saturday’s game came in garbage time, as true freshman Myles Burkett took the backup snaps against the Redbirds over the expected No. 2 quarterback, Deacon Hill.
Chryst praised Burkett’s willingness to learn and improve as a primary factor in his development.
“I’ve liked the way that he’s [always] trying to learn. There’s times where I know that he’s not getting the reps, but I know he’s working at it. You see it even on the sides at times in practice where he’s going through it,” Chryst said. “I’ve liked they way that he’s approached it and his demeanor’s been good too. He’s certainly got some urgency to him, but also level-headed enough where it doesn’t get too big.”
Later Monday, Burkett had a similar statement on his preparation, going into depth on his mindset in practice and going through the motions of plays, even against imaginary defenses, to have a better knowledge of the offense.
The Badgers debuted their two-headed rushing attack with Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi, with the former getting 14 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns, while the latter rushed for 48 yards on ten carries.
Following the game, Chryst expressed his thoughts on Mellusi’s performance, comparing it to his efforts in training camp.
“It was a different rhythm to that game. I don’t think I’m imagining this, [but] I thought [Chez] ran really well and hard and I did see that in camp. It’s been consistent. I love the way he’s approached really from the first day in camp.”
The Badgers take on the Washington State Cougars on Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium, where they’ll look to improve their season record to 2-0 and lift their AP Top 25 ranking, which dropped a spot, despite their 38-0 victory last weekend.