MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst spoke to reporters following practice Thursday, his final media availability before the Badgers play at BYU on Saturday.
Chryst addressed how Wisconsin will prepare for facing either BYU starting quarterback Tanner Mangum (left ankle/foot injury) or backup Beau Hoge, updated running back Bradrick Shaw’s injury status and discussed the Badgers’ preparation for their first road game of the season.
Here is what Chryst had to say:
Chryst: The weeks kind of go fast and appreciate the preparation that’s put into it. I’m looking forward to a road game. We think it’s against a good BYU team that we know it’s going to be a physical game, and obviously, getting on the road, there will be a lot of energy in that stadium. I think it’s what this team needs right now.
How do you go about preparing for two quarterbacks when you don’t know the injury status of one?
Chryst: I think because you said it, you don’t know. You’ve got to prepare for the 11 that are on the field. There’s going to be a quarterback. I think you can drive yourself nuts trying to figure out what’s going to happen. I still believe your most important part of preparation is the things that you can control.
Now, the opponent matters. What do we have to defend? What are we attacking? But different if you saw a lot of tape on who it may be and you say, “OK this is what the offense may be with this one and how it changes.” You don’t know. So I think you go and you know you’re going to have some version of what we’ve been seeing, and there’s probably going to be something that’s different, and you’ve got to be able to adjust to it.
You’ve got to just focus on their offense and the 11 that will be out there. They’re going to have a quarterback, and play the best that we can.
Can you find much tape on a kid (Beau Hoge) who played three games two years ago?
Chryst: All I know is if it was one of our players who played two years ago, we would hope that it’d be a lot different. Their growth, even they might change parts that they’re doing in their offense because maybe there’s juniors and seniors for instance. So I think you can do that to get a sense of the person. We’ve done it before where you go back and look at a high school tape, just to see what kind of skill set does that individual possess? But you wouldn’t book too much on it, I don’t think.
Have you seen enough from Jason Erdmann in practice to have confidence in him if Beau Benzschawel is not able to go?
Chryst: Yeah, if that were the case, I think Erds had a good camp. Certainly been in the system now. He’s got some natural qualities that are good for him. I think his strength level is good. He’s like a lot of the young kids that you start to see it click for him and come on. So I think we would have confidence in Erds should he have the opportunity to play.
Joe Rudolph told us Beau practiced on Tuesday. Has he been able to go Wednesday and Thursday?
Do you take into account a bye week with tailback Bradrick Shaw if he’s not 100 percent to give someone that extra rest?
Chryst: Would never take away snaps from someone that’s ready to go because of a bye week. I think that these players, there are limited opportunities and if they’re ready to go, then they should play. In a case like that, no, the bye doesn’t impact it.
Now, if someone’s not ready, then you kind of look and say, “Good, we’ve got the bye. That’ll maybe extend some time for their healing or rehab.” But if someone’s cleared and ready to go and they can help us, I think they’ve earned that right to play. And I think playing is what it’s all about.
Did Bradrick do more work this week than last?
Chryst: Bradrick did do more work this week for sure.
Does everybody have to re-learn what going on the road is like again?
Chryst: For some, it’ll be their first road trip. Obviously [for] the true freshmen it is. But we’ve got some redshirt freshmen that haven’t traveled before. You try to make it similar once you get to the hotel. But the fact of just getting on a plane. I don’t know, but in the past, guys, that’s their first plane ride.
It’s one more component, traveling and going on the road. New locker room, new stadium. Those are all experiences, and they’ve got to learn to deal with it, adjust and still be able to perform to their best. But it’s also kind of neat to be around those that it is their first trip.