MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst spoke with reporters Friday night following the Badgers’ ninth spring practice. Chryst discussed the meniscus injury former Wisconsin cornerback Nick Nelson suffered during a private workout for an NFL team, the progression of offensive lineman Kayden Lyles, tailback Jonathan Taylor’s route running and more.
Here is what Chryst had to say:
Chryst: I thought this week was a good week overall. I think guys came back from spring break and kind of got back into the rhythm of it. We’ve got to make sure that we take advantage of the next six practices we’ve got. I thought there were a lot of good teaching moments. We’ve just got to keep getting better.
Q: Is there anything headed into the final week next week that you want to make sure you accomplish?
Chryst: Actually, we’ve got two more weeks. The spring game won’t be our last practice, and every day is a good opportunity to get better. I think we’ve got to just take advantage of those.
Q: It looked like Zack Baun might have hurt the same foot that kept him out last year. Do you know the severity yet?
Chryst: I haven’t talked to [trainer] Brian [Lund] yet on Zack, so we’ll see. You think of those things. Boy, I thought he was feeling good, so hopefully it’s not that. But I haven’t talked to Brian.
Q: What do you like about what tight ends Luke Benzschawel and Jake Ferguson have brought to the tight end group?
Chryst: I think that both are very different kind of in their skill set. Spring’s a great time for guys like Jake and Luke that are in that position. You can’t get enough reps. I think they’re both getting a better understanding of what they’re doing. There’s so much work into the how and the technique part of it. I appreciate their approach, but they’ve got to, that’s the great thing about spring for guys like that that haven’t played a lot of football; spring’s invaluable in many ways.
Q: You’re short on receivers in spring. Do you think that’s benefiting some of the younger guys to get more reps?
Chryst: Yeah. I think they have to get reps. There is nothing better than getting reps and practicing it that way. There’s times when it’s hard on maybe the players around if they make a mistake or something. But I think for the young receivers, it’s really good work. KP [Kendric Pryor] is the only one that we could get back. We’ve just got to keep working.
Q: With the NFL draft a couple of weeks away, have any NFL teams contacted you about any of your guys?
Chryst: Not recently. Certainly we had conversations with guys during pro day. That was kind of the last time. And then usually it’s probably about a week before the draft that I start getting calls. Just in talking to our guys, they’ve had workouts. A few guys have taken visits, and it’s been going well. It’s a good group. I’m anxious to see what happens with them.
Q: Did anyone say anything to you about Nick Nelson before his injury?
Chryst: I think a lot of questions just wanting to confirm who he was. Certainly, I think at that point there’s a lot of film out on him and he’d gone to the combine. So it’s more just the things that maybe you’re not seeing on tape that we get questions about.
Q: You’ve spent a lot of time early in practice working with Jonathan Taylor on routes. Why do you think that’s been so valuable for him?
Chryst: In that point in practice, it’s a time where he’s not doing some of the group work. When he came in last year, what we had him focus on learning was a lot of the basics. He certainly grew with that. There’s just some things we can do with him and find out areas where we can kind of help him grow and maybe help our offense.
Q: What was your reaction when you heard about Nick’s injury?
Chryst: You feel terrible. And yet I was proud of Nick’s response in talking to Nick. He says I’d rather have it happen now than later. You feel bad any time guys you care about get hurt. But I loved his response and his approach to it.
Q: Kayden Lyles has been getting reps at a lot of positions. Do you feel like he can help out in some way this year?
Chryst: Yeah. I think that’s what spring’s for is for a lot of guys, do you earn the right to have meaningful reps in the fall? Kayden has certainly done that. In our O-line, we’re limiting our guys or are not doing many reps at all for the starters. But it’s a great time for everyone else. Kayden is one of those and you talk about the multiple positions, he’s capable of that. Plus, I think as you go in a season, there’s going to be times when you have to play different positions. He’s getting great work. I like his approach. Again, when we were talking about the tight ends, same things with so many guys. This is a good time for all the guys, especially the ones that haven’t played a lot of football.