MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s first fall practice is complete, and there were few developments on the field Saturday morning.
The Badgers’ first-team offensive line consisted of left tackle Michael Deiter, left guard Jon Dietzen, center Tyler Biadasz, right guard Beau Benzschawel and right tackle David Edwards. Those are the positions we learned on Friday, and it will be interesting to see how much — if at all — the coaches continue to make changes.
Players won’t put on pads until next week, so little can be gleaned early in fall camp. Here’s what Badgers coach Paul Chryst had to say to reporters afterward.
Chryst: “It was good getting on the field with the guys. Obviously Day 1 of 29 before we play. So just getting started, but certainly good to be on the field with them and get camp going.”
Is Michael Deiter at left tackle a permanent move?
Chryst: “We started him there, and we’ll always make sure we practice ways to get the best five on the field. So it was permanent today, and that’s all he took. But he’s still going to have to do some center stuff and guard. As we go through camp, you’ll see there will be a lot of guys moving, so I wouldn’t try to make that any lead story for anybody.”
Do you foresee moving around running back Chris James because of his receiving ability?
Chryst: “I think he’s capable of it. I think a few backs are capable of it. You’ve got to make sure they grow into those roles. So how that transforms, that’s part of what camp’s for, whether it be Chris or really any guy. Camp is the time to establish. You’ve got to have one role and establish it and be good, be consistent at it, and then can you add more to their plate? If you can add more to their plate, then it’s good. But you don’t want to push them there too soon, either.”
Where is quarterback Jack Coan’s comfort level given that he had a full spring and summer?
Chryst: “I think it’s been helpful for him certainly. I think that kind of stood out a little bit today when you’re going over in meetings. You almost feel bad for the freshmen that, it’s the start of camp but it’s midway through the year as far as Jack had the ability to be in winter meetings and spring ball meetings. I think he’s done a good job of learning and he’s got a lot more to learn. But I think he’s given himself a chance to get value out of the reps, which is huge.”
How much can Taiwan Deal help the running back group now that he’s healthy?
Chryst: I think we’re going to need every one of the backs, so Taiwan absolutely could be a big help. And it is good seeing him, he feels healthier obviously. That part’s been good. But everyone on this team we’re going to need.
What’s the biggest growth you want to see with your special teams in fall camp?
Chryst: “There’s a few spots. Jazz [Peavy] certainly did some punt returning, but do we have another guy? Punting, we’ve got a number of guys. T.J. Edwards and [Jack] Cichy and D’Cota [Dixon], our left side will be three of your starters on it. We’ve got a little bit of guys that keep progressing, keep developing, keep growing. And then we’ve got some other guys that we’ve got to put them in the fire a little bit so that they’re ready, to find out if they’re ready for game time.”
You used punters for different types of kicks last year. Is that an ideal situation, or would you rather someone jumped out?
Chryst: I’d prefer the latter. Part of that I think last year was P.J. [Rosowski] was doing some things that were good. I thought he was tremendous last year on the kickoffs. Anthony [Lotti] as a freshman, I think P.J. gave us the flexibility to not necessarily put the freshman in right away. Anthony’s got to grow. If we can get one really good one that can go the whole time, then have games where you’re not punting much. …”
Is there an emphasis to get more out of the punt-return game this year?
Chryst: “Yeah, I think you try to get more out of everything. We’re coaches. But your return game, absolutely. How can we find a way to get more? The last kickoff return for a touchdown was Trell [Natrell Jamerson] against Maryland [in 2015]. How can we do a better job on our coverages? Every one of those you’ve got to look at. So certainly, punt return you want more.”
Big Ten coordinator of officials Bill Carollo was talking about rule tweaks. One is the horse-collar. Have you talked to your kids about tackling up high from behind?
Chryst: “We haven’t yet. We’ll kind of hit that as we get into the tackling part of it. We’ve talked about the rules in our meetings, but you’re just covering it then. And I think it will be. It’ll be interesting. And you try to make sure you’re aware of the rules and then I think even with penalties, you put them into two categories: controllables and those ones that are those judgments that you don’t have as much control about. We’ll spend a lot of time talking with them. Haven’t addressed it with the group yet.”
Will the sideline rule affect the coaches?
Chryst: “I hope not.”
Was there a case where you’ve been close to getting penalized for going on the field?
Chryst: “I remember being on the field during reviews. There was a game that we played a couple years ago where it was kind of snowing [Northwestern]. We had a play that looked a lot like something. I remember being out on that one. But you’ve got to keep your poise. They don’t want you on the field challenging a call. And I think that’s what they’re trying to make sure, and it’s a good rule.”