MADISON – Paul Chryst knows what it is like to be under the gun. Having the whole offense as his toy and using the playbook at his disposal, Chryst is the hero when things go right and the black sheep when things go wrong.
If the play was a bust (like Wisconsin running the option on third and one that backfired) or the play results in a dropped pass, fumble or interception, the blame eventually will make its way to Chryst for why the play failed.
While he admits to not having opened his email since camp started or yet to receiver the middle finger driving home from practice, Chryst does get second guessed frequently … by his family.
"My wife has to face everyone and she tells me, ‘Yeah, that was a bad call.' Well no (expletive) it was a bad call if it doesn't work. I agree with that," Chryst said with a laugh. "How is that a good thing? There is not one fan that has beaten me to punch. What the hell did you call that for?"
"Yeah, they were bad and you certainly don't like that."
But it doesn't stop with his wife, Robin, as her two daughters, Katy and JoJo, also analyze her dad's performance.
"My daughters are starting to be the ones I have to worry about," he said smiling. "They see the game pretty good. She's pretty accurate. They tell me, ‘I hate that call whenever you do that.' Well, I hated it too that time."
He proudly added, "I love telling other guys, she sees the film."
But while a breakdown on that third and one option cost the Badgers an important first down, Chryst sticks by his decisions at the time, despite the obvious ‘I wish I could have that one back.'
It was a challenging day for Chryst, as the Badgers' OC saw first hand the issues he had discussed earlier in the week - red zone woes, short yardage issues and failing to convert points – all come back to bite his offense.
"I don't know if you see it coming but you are what you do," Chryst said. "That's the good thing about football in that it's black and white. We squandered some opportunities early and most games, that comes back to haunt you. Maybe it's human nature that you have to go through something that has to sting more."
One of the things that has handcuffed Chryst is being without both his star tight ends – Travis Beckum and Garrett Graham – at the same time for much of the season, forcing the Badgers to use plenty of youth.
While the amount of drops don't change his play calls, Chryst isn't afraid to come back to a young receiver, which was shown on the Badgers final drive when Lance Kendricks, Nick Toon and David Gilreath all made catches.
"You can't be oblivious to it but I do like to go back to a kid," he said. "We'll tell then we're going to come back at them and they'll make some plays for us. There wasn't one kid that went out there that went, ‘This will be a good play for me to put one on the ground.' On one of Lance (Kendricks)' drops, I thought he did a great job getting to the spot to get open. That's playing football. You make plays and you don't make plays."
The big thing for Chryst is to figure out his offense before the talented-Buckeye defense comes to town, as the Badgers are still in a season-long funk.
"Our whole thing is try to get better each week. In the meantime, you win games and you have to lose things," Chryst said. "The goal is to play your best football at the end of the year."
That having said, is Wisconsin still going to run the option this weekend?
"Oh we're going to option it up and down the field," he said with a laugh.