Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst talks about the challenging schedule and development of his players

Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst addresses the media and answers questions during the 2016 Big Ten Football Media Days.

Certainly, truly appreciative and proud to have this opportunity today to represent the University of Wisconsin and our football program. And really on behalf of our Wisconsin football family we'd like to express our thoughts and prayers to the Foltz and Sadler families and their friends, and certainly the football families of Michigan State and Nebraska.
I thought Mike Riley, Sunday I was able to see when talking about the impact that Sam had on him, and I think that gets lost sometimes in all of this is that we as coaches certainly hope to and want to impact our student-athletes, the players that we coach. But we really are impacted in so many different ways by the kids, the young men that we get to coach.
That's one of the great things about coaching. I know it's what drives me and fuels me. And that's why I'm excited today for everyone that hasn't been able to meet and get to know the three players that we brought, Vince Biegel, and you'll hear from Dare Ogunbowale and Sojourn Shelton -- three young men that I'm really proud of them being on our team and for me to be able to coach them and guys that have impacted me in a short time.
I'm anxious for every one of you to get to know them. And one of the things you'll find from our players and we've got three down here, but certainly our team, is they're excited about the opportunities that this year presents. Probably the number one question I've been getting when I have an opportunity to speak certainly in state is about the schedule, and I know our players and coaches, we're excited about the challenge of the schedule we have, because that's a great opportunity.
And so I've appreciated what the kids have done, the work they've put in, and certainly looking forward to starting fall camp, report August 7th, get a chance to have our first practice August 8th.
This is the third time now that you guys have had that marquee game to open up your season. This year it's LSU. Do you notice some extra motivation or extra juice from the players when they have that looming the first week of the year?
I don't know if I could say that I notice a difference. Last year we opened up with Alabama. I do know that it's a heck of a way to start a season. And I think for a player in general that the opportunity to -- the first game is always an exciting game. It's the start of a new season.
There's been a lot of work. These young men put in so much time and to be finally be able to play the season, that's a big deal. Then when you get to do it at a stadium, in a stadium such as Lambeau Field, especially so many of our players from instate that grew up and probably dreamed of and envisioned an opportunity to play in Lambeau.
And then to do it against a really good opponent in LSU, it's the trifecta. Our kids are excited about it. I don't know if it's more or less -- we've been lucky. And I was thinking about this and we talked about this with our players, this game comes about because of the teams and the players at Wisconsin that have come before. They've made Wisconsin a special place. I think that's why our kids chose to come to Wisconsin, to play in big games such as our opener, or such as the games that we'll play in the Big Ten schedule.
So our kids are excited about it. I know that much. And it certainly does grab a player's attention when you know you're playing against a heck of an opponent for your first game.
Obviously you have a new quarterback situation in with Joel Stave gone. What do you see coming out of spring and summer with the two quarterbacks? Obviously both of them with limited experience.
Right. I'm sure there will be a lot of people who thought Joel was at Wisconsin forever. And I appreciated the chance to work with him last year.
Yet, I'm excited with Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook. They've done a great job to this point of not worrying about the common question of who is going to be the starter and the quarterback competition. But spending their time trying to work on and improve in the things in their control. And they've done a great job this summer. And I know our players respect who they are as people, as teammates, and those two will get a ton of reps in fall camp. And certainly I don't know when, but we'll name a starting quarterback.
But I think our job as coaches is to make sure that both of them are ready to play and play well in the first game and I think for both of them their job is to make sure they focus on being the best QB they can be. And I like what they've done.
Certainly in the offseason, through spring ball and this summer, I think they've been really good. And I think it's given our players confidence in them. Bart certainly had opportunity to come in in the Illinois game and to play. And I think that has helped him and ease his anxiety a little bit and given him some confidence and yet there's nothing like experience.
And that experience, even in this short time that he played, he knows there's areas he can get better at and I appreciate the way he's working on it.
I really enjoy and appreciate both those two and both need to be good for us, I think, for us to be as good as we can this year.
Statistically, you were one of the best units last year on defense but you've had some changes there. What's your thoughts on that group, and what are you looking forward to as you head into this fall?
Our defense was fun to watch last year. As you mentioned, we've had changes. Lost two coaches and lost some really good football players, Joe Schobert I thought had a heck of a year, was fun to watch.
And lost three starters in the secondary. And yet I'm excited about this group. And I've appreciated the chance to be able to work with Justin Wilcox, our new defensive coordinator. And I've known Justin for a number of years, coached against him. And I think it's helped in the way that he's transitioned along with Jimmy Leonhard, who is also joining our coaching staff.
Our kids, they made an easy transition, I think, for our kids as far as how we're calling the defenses. And every year you're going to change. And Vince Biegel, who is here, and I think is certainly one of, if not our best player, one of our best players. And yet Vince is going to have a different role than he had last year.
We've got guys that played a lot of football last year that need to step into a new role. So I think change is always a part of college football, certainly. I think it's a part of everything. It's a part of life.
I'm excited to see our kids and coaches as we grow and adjust to each other and certainly our defense last year, they gave us a chance to be in a lot of games and I think that we value and our kids know what good defense is, what it should look like. We'll be tested differently than we were last year. We play different teams.
But I like the way that they've come together and transitioned from a new defensive coordinator, new player stepping in, and thought we've had to make great strides this summer. I think that we have and certainly in fall camp it will be important for us to continue to grow and come together. But I'm excited about the pieces, and we've got some guys on defense that have played a number of significant snaps, significant roles, and they've got to be great leaders and we've got other players that need to step up and step into those roles. But that's kind of the fun of this whole process.
Did you get a chance to hear any more explanation on the Jazz Peavy catch/noncatch against Northwestern, and what you can expect and other situations going forward?
Yeah, the one thing I thought we've always had -- I've appreciated this when I was an assistant here in the Big Ten and certainly hasn't changed coming back and being a head coach. We've got great conversation and able to talk to Bill right away and I think we do a good job of trying to explain to all the coaches and using any example, whether it's from our games, our Big Ten games or from across the country. And that you appreciate as a coach. Our players appreciate that knowing that we as the officials, the conference, everyone wants to do this the right way and they want to get it right.
And I think the beautiful thing is in football. I mean, it's important to our players. And they love playing the game. And there's great lessons that come out of it. Some of them are good experiences. Some are through bad experiences. But Jazz spoke to our team about not what happened but how he had to deal with it and respond from it. And you talk about an opportunity to grow, and that was for Jazz. So I've always appreciated the way that the football coaches, players worked with our officials and we all want to get it right and I think we're always learning and then you go forward.
And I appreciate that our kids do the same thing.
You obviously have a lot of talent returning at the running back position with Corey and Dare and Taiwan. Could you give us an idea what you expect that position to look like this year or how you expect the offense to evolve?
There's a lot to that question. Appreciate what Dare was able to give us last year and certainly Cory's year last year didn't go the way he had hoped. But I appreciate the way that he's responded and that he's worked and hopefully learn those lessons to help him have the best year that he can this year.
And Taiwan was able to gain some valuable experience. And so I believe that we've certainly got the opportunity to be better at the running back position and to be deeper at that position. And it's our job to help them continue to grow with it and I like the group and I like the -- Alec Ingold, had an opportunity to move Leon Jacobs over from defense.
So I think we've got a good group of players in the running back room, and I think for us to be good, that group has to be good. And yet they're capable of that, certainly.


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