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Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst spoke with reporters on Monday as the Badgers ready for Notre Dame.
The storylines are everywhere for this non-conference matchup, as Fighting Irish QB Jack Coan matches up against his former team and coaching staff. Chryst touched on Coan facing the Badgers, Notre Dame’s star safety Kyle Hamilton, the targeting rule, and more.
Wisconsin and Notre Dame meet this Saturday in Chicago with ESPN’s College GameDay and Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff in town.
Although there are Mertz versus Coan storylines that may dominate the day, Chryst assured reporters that this is still Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame above all else. Here is a look at everything Chryst said about the matchup during Monday’s press conference:
Has Chryst noticed any changes with Coan during his Notre Dame stint?
Sep 5, 2021; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
“I think that as you watch and you see, I mean there’s obviously enough difference... different team. He’s always going to work and continue to work to improve and I think certainly there’s a storyline. I think it’s important that it’s Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame. Obviously we have respect for Jack, and appreciate who he is as a person and player here, a teammate... but it’s Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame.”
What does Wisconsin's coach think of college football's targeting rule?
Jul 23, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst speaks to the media during Big 10 media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
“I think big picture, certainly there’s attention and you have to, I think as players and coaches, you certainly coach to it different than when there wasn’t the rule. You said it, when you have multiple offenders, someone who does it multiple times, that’s a little tricky. Are they getting it? I just think back now of all the one’s that we’ve kind of been associated with, there are some that it was definitely not the intent... that’s the one that I don’t know how to tell you. You want to keep the head out of it, right? There are some of those where, we kind of all know it where there’s someone launching themselves at it and when they’re not. That’s hard I think to put into a rule, but I think we kind of all know it. I appreciate what the original intent was, but a lot of them, there's going to be some of those that I don’t think that's why the rule was put into place. I think that's one thing that’s tricky for the officials... I don’t know that I have the right answer.”
On Mertz's goal of becoming more comfortable in the pocket:
Sep 11, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
"I think he’s working through it. I think he’s had some where he has done that and I think there were some early where he wasn’t as poised in the pocket. He does a good job in practice when those situations occur... that’s when you have to do it, right? You have to be how you play. I think it’s a work in progress but I think he is progressing.”
On Notre Dame's star safety Kyle Hamilton:
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton (14) celebrates an interception during the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
Notre Dame Vs Purdue
“He is talented, right? My history is that you focus too much on one guy, and you know, you want to rob Peter to pay Paul... You play a good team, they’re going to have really good players, and I think that’s what we’re facing this week. A number of really good players and a well coached team at that... The good players, you know where they’re at but you have to be careful not to overcompensate and then you can hurt yourself in other ways.”
On Wisconsin's RB room and distributing carries:
Sep 11, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (6) rushes with the football during the second quarter against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
“It depends, and certainly any time, I don’t care what position it is, if you’ve got more than one guy than can contribute, that’s a good thing for a team. And yet, not too long ago where we didn’t have as much, we’re going to ride Jonathan Taylor. And still other backs got carries, and that was a good thing to have too. We like the group, obviously I think they’re gaining experience as we continue on, but I think this year for this team, we’re going to need all of them. We need them to continue to develop.”
On the team's front seven:
Wisconsin Badgers nose tackle Keeanu Benton (95) reacts after the defense recovered a fumble near the goal line. Credit: Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin-Imagn Content Services, LLC
“I think we’ve got some really good players, and I think we’ve done a nice job of scheming appropriately, and get where guys know what they’re doing and they can cut it loose and play. And that’s what’s kind of fun about the game, is each week it’s going to be a different challenge, and certainly we’ll be challenged this week.”
Did Coan's decision to transfer leave any hurt feelings on either side?
Jan 1, 2020; Pasadena, California, USA Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst talks with quarterback Jack Coan (17) in the first half against the Oregon Ducks in the 106th Rose Bowl game at Rose Bowl Stadium. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
“You want to respect decisions and go with it, and then you do move on, I think you have to move on.”
On Graham Mertz spreading the ball out
Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
“You always want to have enough ways that you can spread the ball around, and then the game will dictate, a little bit, where it goes or to who it goes to... You want to be able to attack the field, different spots on the field and with different people. Some games play out that way more than others.”