All great running backs will say that the reason they ran for so many yards and eluded so many tackles was because they had a great fullback clearing the way for them, making that key block or hit to spring them loose for the touchdown and the glory.
Junior Chris Pressley was supposed to be that guy.
After then-fullback Matt Bernstein graduated from the program, Pressley looked to be the man to assume command of the role. That all changed with a freak injury happened in fall camp 2006. Pressley successfully blocked his target, but writhed in pain when a lineman rolled over his leg – breaking his ankle and any chance to play last season.
A year later, Pressley is eager to get back onto the field. Still having junior standing after using last year as a redshirt season, Pressley feels that he's the X-factor to the offense. Plus, after spending three weeks in China for an academic trip, a trip that helped him lose nearly 15 pounds as well, Pressley is mentality ready for the physical road ahead.
Badger Nation publisher Benjamin Worgull sat down with Pressley to talk about his 2006 season, his road back, the Wisconsin quarterbacks and how he foresees himself in the Wisconsin offense.
Badger Nation: After sitting out last year and getting back into things, how would evaluate your first two weeks?
Chris Pressley: First couple of days, there's been some hot and humid days so the conditioning has been tough. The first couple days, I am feeling pretty good. I get winded here and there. The execution of the plays though, I am on top of things. Coach Chryst has had to correct me once or twice, but as long as he doesn't have to correct me on the same things again, I feel I get better as a player. I'm excited to be back out here and running around with the guys and having fun.
BN: You were pegged as the starting fullback last year until you had that freak injury. How disappointing was last year having to watch from the sidelines?
CP: It was really disappointing, but I was always taught that things happen for a reason. You don't know why the reason is. I have been looking at it like that, because you can't get down on the situation. [Marcus Randle El] went through the same injury and he was getting really down on himself. I helped encourage him through the injury.
We got a redshirt year back and now we have two more years back. I was disappointed, but the team had a great year and luckily, I am not in a spot where me going down changed the outcome the season. Well, maybe the Michigan loss. They had a great season, I'm happy they did what they did and now I am back.
BN: The offense looks really good this year. What kinds of things can you bring to the offense that maybe was missing last year?
CP: Just opening holes a little better. Watching the film from last year, there was just a lot of times where we [left] yards on the field. Bill [Rentmeester] had to learn the position and Andy Crooks tried to learn the position and do what he could do. It was just one of those things where I think I have a lot to offer at that position. Basically strengthen the contact that I have. I can offer that different aspect.
Also short yardage [situations]. P.J. sometimes might need a break and I need Coach Chryst to see me as a viable part of the offense and somebody he can count on and say, ‘OK. We can throw this little dump pass to Press or we need to get this first down, we can give it to Press. Bust this hole for P.J., Press can do it.' Those are the things I am focusing on.
CP: Honestly? Yeah. I mean, Joe was one of the best left tackles I've ever seen. We don't have anyone there that's a Joe Thomas' caliber right now. But with that being said, we do have guys that are going to compete and give us the best they can on the field. At that position, all those guys are competing and the best man is going to come out on top. I think the best man is going to be better than if he wasn't competing. They're being pushed to be in the position that Joe Thomas was in, which is great. They being pushed to get better everyday and pushed to be the type of leader Joe was.
If you lose somebody like him, you're going to lose a little at that position. We'll see how the offense responds and what we can utilize across the line. We have a lot of good linemen – Kraig Urbik, Marcus Coleman, [Eric Vanden] Heuvel. Someone else has to step in, take the role and be there.
BN: A lot of press has been made about who's going to be your quarterback. What does each quarterback bring to the team?
CP: To be honest, I'd be satisfied with either one of them playing quarterback. They both play really well. TD has obviously been in that position before. I haven't seen Evridge play over at Kansas State. TD brings that aspect of the trust issue, as he's already played [in our system] so you trust him. Allan hasn't played yet, but you can see in practice and how he conducts himself that you can trust him as well.
It's one of those things that they are both fighting for that spot and both trying to compete, but at the same time, whoever is there, I'm excited for both of them because they both are great quarterbacks. They are both excelling in camp and in spring ball. We are fortunate team to have two great quarterbacks. It's really hard to break them down because they both offer different things, but they both stand up for themselves.