Four days in advance of welcoming No. 2 Ohio State in Madison, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst on Tuesday joined the Big Ten coaches teleconference to preview the No. 8 Badgers’ upcoming top-10 battle with the Buckeyes on Saturday night.
Two Saturdays ago, Wisconsin lost a hard-fought 14-7 contest at No. 4 Michigan. The week off couldn’t have come at a better time for the second-year Badgers coach, who said on the call that his team “had a good bye week last week and (is) excited for the opportunity to play Ohio State at home.”
A pretty standard comment? Well, he dug a little deeper as the call went on. Here are some highlights:
- Chryst was asked about Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt, the brother of NFL superstar and Wisconsin alum, J.J. Watt. Chryst said the two brothers share a similar work ethic and T.J. looks up to J.J., but he isn’t trying to be the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. “I think he’s trying to make his own mark,” Chryst said of the younger Watt, who leads Wisconsin with 5.5 sacks this season.
- “It’s a really good scheme with talented players executing,” Chryst said of the Buckeyes’ dominant defense (second in the nation with 10.8 points per game allowed). “They play fast and they’re productive, you don’t see a lot of missed tackles.”
- Chryst said “you hope to earn the right to be in those conversations” when asked about the chance to make the statement that the Badgers belong among the best of the best in the Big Ten. The only way to do that, he said, is to play well on Saturday. “At the end of the year, we’ll write the story. We have great opportunities because we have great challenges.”
- Chryst admitted that having already played a team with talent like Michigan’s could help prepare the Badgers for facing Ohio State. “(His players) love the opportunity to compete against the best.”
- When asked if quarterback Alex Hornibrook is at full strength and whether injuries will affect his throwing ability, Chryst said “We’ll find out. There are guys with stronger arms, no doubt. We just didn’t play real well [against Michigan].”
- Chryst said he feels very “fortunate” to be working with defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, and that entire defensive staff did a great job with the transition from former coordinator Dave Aranda (now at LSU). “I don’t think the kids felt like it was a big change,” Chryst said, adding that Wisconsin has built on what it already had in place.
- Of his defense, Chryst also admitted, “we’re going to be tested in a different way this week than we have all year.”
The Badgers and Buckeyes will square off at 8 p.m. ET in a game televised on ABC.