MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst met with reporters following practice Thursday during the Badgers’ bye week.
Chryst discussed what makes Northwestern running back Justin Jackson tough to stop, the importance of Badgers wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore, how his team is using the bye week and the status of left guard Jon Deitzen.
Here is what Chryst had to say
You’ve faced Northwestern running back Justin Jackson a couple of times. What is it about him that is difficult to keep him from controlling the clock?
Chryst: I think he’s a really talented football player. A good runner and I think the combination, him and [quarterback Clayton] Thorson, they complement each other really well. I think that’s what makes their offense, those are the challenges of their offense. And I think that’s what helps each other.
Can you quantify the effect receivers coach Ted Gilmore has had since he’s been here of bringing people in as a recruiter and also trying to develop young guys?
Chryst: I feel really fortunate to be able to work with Ted, and certainly he brings a ton to our program. I think first as a coach, as a person. He’s really high-quality and certainly does his job really well. And part of our jobs is recruiting, which Ted does really well. He’s an experienced recruiter, a confident recruiter and I think a lot of that’s the evaluation and getting to know people. So you bring in the right person, and then certainly he does a really good job of working with our receivers and therefore that’s the development. I feel really fortunate I get to work with him, that he’s here.
When you were putting together your staff, what stood out about him?
Chryst: I knew of his track record and know people that knew him. Joe [Rudolph] had worked with him. So that’s always nice when you’ve got someone that knows him, day-in and day-out. Certainly, when you get a chance to meet him, you feel really excited that there’s that opportunity, and glad that he’s here.
Do you use the bye week to work on a number of future opponents, or is it more an extra week to look at the next one?
Chryst: I think it gives coaches a little bit of time. But the focus, the primary focus of the bye week has got to be your team and your players. Certainly depending on when it falls, I think there’s always a fundamental component. Where are you at right now and can you take advantage of that extra time to hone in on a couple fundamentals? And then you get an idea of what’s to come.
But that’s also why you do it in the summer. So maybe you’re looking to see what’s changed or what information do you have? Whether it’s a weekly preparation or in a bye where you could do what you’re saying, I think it’s all about putting the focus and energy on yourself and making sure you’re improving. That’s what we have to do this week. I think we’ve had a good week of it. But we’re getting ourselves better more than anything about the opponent. We’ve got a normal week of preparation for each opponent. So I think it’s a great time to focus on your team.
Have you given these guys much time off this week to let them heal up?
Chryst: Yeah. And certainly group-wise, Monday and Tuesday, they came in and got a lift in and then we practiced Wednesday, Thursday. We’ll also practice Friday. But there’s certain guys that aren’t practicing or aren’t practicing as much. There’s going to be a group of guys that are that next guy in. It’s a really good time for them to get some good work. Maybe they’re not sore after playing a lot of snaps in three games, although we’ve been fortunate to get a lot of players some snaps. But it can be a really good week for our twos. And certainly the ones have got to be, you’re in a rhythm of the season. You want them to stay sharp, so you try to balance that.
How do you decide how to split carries between Bradrick Shaw and Jonathan Taylor, and does that differ compared to when the season began?
Chryst: I thought we had a pretty good idea of where we were at with Jonathan. Certainly he’s done some good things. Each week’s a new week. To spend too much time trying to map out what’s going to happen, when we all know as the season progresses there’s, whether it’s health-related issues or what you’re doing, what type of game or in the course of a game, what kind of game it will be. I think you get all your guys ready that can help you. A lot of times it sorts itself out.
What do you remember about Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz when he was on staff at Wisconsin in 2006-07?
Chryst: I really enjoyed working with Hank. He’s a really good football coach and I thought a really good person. And I really enjoy going down and talking football with him and certainly [have] a ton of respect for Hank. I enjoy the time that I had, able to work with him.
Do you expect to have left guard Jon Dietzen available?
Chryst: We’ll see. I do feel good that he’s getting better, but we’ll see how that all works out the rest of this week and next week.