Wisconsin Football: Paul Chryst’s Spring Practice Press Conference

COACH CHRYST: I felt it was a good finish to what I felt and coaches and players felt was a good spring practice.

I thought — certainly a beautiful day helps, but I thought there was a lot of people that made this day happen, and appreciate all of those in the athletic department and students that were volunteering in the McClain and had a chance to peek in there, and kids running around, and you see Bucky, that’s pretty cool. And to come out — I thought our kids had good energy, but had it all spring, and that’s what I really liked about the group and appreciated from it.

The spring game is the last one of 15. I thought for the most part our team took advantage of the opportunities presented to us to get better and that, you’re thankful for.

Q. Paul, no secret in talking to Ted Gilmore that he would like to see a number three wide receiver emerge. I know George has had some moments this spring. I don’t want to make too much out of one practice, but were you pleased to see some things he did today?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, and I was actually pleased we were able to do — I wasn’t sure going into it with three receivers, and Doug was able to give us a little bit, you know, we had some — we were able to work on some of the throw game, and you’re right, George has — George has worked this spring, and I think that this day he had a couple of noticeable plays, but I thought what he did is I think the last three or four he probably had his best practices, so I think he finished the spring on a higher note, and I think that’s got a chance to give him confidence going into summer, so I thought that was good.

He took advantage of the opportunities, and that’s what happens when you practice and you stay healthy, and he’s worked, so he got a lot of reps, and that will be something that we’ve got to — for us to be a good team this fall certainly that position has to — we’ve got to develop some depth. I thought Jazz had a really good spring, and Rob and Reggie had their moments but missed some and so they’ve gotta get healthy and they’ve got to have a great summer.

Q. How much did Bart and Alex progress over these 15 practices, and do you like where they are right now?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, I think they took advantage of the practices and the meeting times, and I think that — I told them the other day we’re not where we want to be, but I don’t think they’re behind schedule. With that being said, I think — and I think this is for our whole team, we’ve got to have a great summer and be ready to go, and we’ve truly got to take advantage of fall camp and those 29 practice opportunities before we open up, but I think both Alex and Bart did do a lot this spring, and with that I think they’ve grown, and I think they’re in a good spot, but we’ve got a ways to go.

Q. How much of today is something about building confidence in guys and sending them into the summer on a high note, especially for a guy like Corey who was coming off a tough season?
COACH CHRYST: I think when you were first asking the question, there is nothing about this day that guarantees — you don’t try to set up to guarantee the — but then when you put Corey into it, I think that this was good for him to finish out. He was excited to be back and practicing and feeling healthy, and so it’s probably — the truth is that every guy is at a little bit different place in their career, in their journey, and you get out of it what you put in. I think the guys that have put a lot in, got a lot out of this spring, and for that you’re appreciative as a coach.

Q. Paul, Alex had three really nice deep completions today. I know it is the spring game, but how much stock do you take into a performance like that going into the summer and what are your thoughts on where he stands now?
COACH CHRYST: You’re talking about Alex Hornibrook? I thought Alex, he did some good things today and I think he’s done some good things in most of the practices we’ve had, every practice. And they’ve got to — it’s not this game — he hasn’t played a game yet. This wasn’t a game. I know with one, who you go against is different. Yeah, I thought he did some really — I thought he had poise, and the one thing that Alex does is he’s an accurate deep ball passer. He gives nice a chance to make a play, so I think he had some good plays today, certainly, but this is one of 15, and it’s April.

Q. Do you have any idea about your safety spots or with Dixon missing so much time and Musso with the class thing, not that you started from scratch in camp, but where do you stand in having an idea who can play back there?
COACH CHRYST: I think that the safety position is probably the one defense that is still to be determined. Now, I say that and every guy is going to come back in fall camp and be who we think they can be, but certainly the different factors with Dakota getting injured, with “Mus” missing decent amounts of practice because of class, gave great opportunities — I thought Arrington — it was really good for Arrington to take advantage of that, and certainly Joe Ferguson and Evan Bondoc got a lot of work because — it’s easy right now you look at it and you say, Vince and T.J. on the outside, we know who the inside backers are, we know who the D linemen are, so front 7 is pretty well set so they’ll just play a lot of football, but the safety positions, the one on defense, is the one “to be determined” and it will be a true camp.

Q. Paul, you have — it would appear that the tailback is pretty set. Can Bradrick Shaw find a way to get playing time this fall?
COACH CHRYST: I think Bradrick and Taiwan were able to take advantage of a lot of work this spring, and we all know how many tailbacks last year? So certainly should be deeper, you hope for deeper than we were last year with the return of Corey and no one leaving, and I thought Bradrick took advantage of his first spring, and I thought Taiwan, a little bit different for the backs, not because it’s a spring game but because we’re tackling and you can see — they had the one where we put it on the ground, and we gotta learn from that, but I thought both the young backs did some good things this spring and I thought finished it today, certainly.

Q. You talked about the summer and not wanting to take a step back into summer. How important will that be for college guys that don’t go to class all the time, and is this a group that you need to remind that, hey, we need to get better during the summer?
COACH CHRYST: Summer is a really good time for our kids. They are going to class but they don’t have the full load, and it’s a chance to really focus on the weight room and also focus on having time to be able to do some field work. I think it’s a time when we come together as a team. I think it’s a time when your leaders emerged in spring ball. In winter conditioning they start and emerge in spring ball, and I think in the summer is when they take it over and it becomes their team. You don’t take this for granted, and we won’t with this group but one of the things I’ve always believed at Wisconsin is we have maximized — the players have maximized summers as well as any group I’ve ever been around. Just because it’s been done in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to happen with this group, right?

We’ve got to champion it, but I think this group will. It’s a group that — they’ve got a lot of self-starters, we’ve got good leadership and we’ve got a group that’s got a good focus to it. Certainly excited about the summer, not worried about how they’re approach is going to be.

Q. Looking into the summer, fullback position, moving players over there this spring, what’s the outlook for that position?
COACH CHRYST: I think that it was good for Leon to get 15 practices and probably double that in meetings and film sessions. And Alec Ingold learning — this is his first spring ball.

Last year at this time he’s trying to win a state championship in baseball, and Austin Ramesh, we gotta get him healthy, so I think we have a chance to get some depth and I think there are three good football players in it, and I think we’re going to need that position. We’re not deep at tight end, so we’re going to need guys in that position that can give us something.

Q. What did it mean for the young boy, Brett, to lead you on the field like he did today?
COACH CHRYST: I had — I think it was a big deal to him. I had a chance to meet Brett when I was up in Menomonie recruiting, and then because of the way recruiting was, and Mason being from there, we were able to go back and we were able to stop in at his school, and the more you get to be around him, he’s a special guy. He’s got a perspective and outlook and attitude that’s, you know, it draws you to him. So it was fun to have him down and around the guys. I’m proud of our guys, and I want a guy like Brett to see them, and it was a good thing, it was fun.

Q. Where does Garret Dooley fit on your depth chart? I know it might be hard to put the whole thing together but does he fit into a prominent place going into fall camp?
COACH CHRYST: I think Garret does fit. He knows — there’s a guy, to me, that had a great winter conditioning period. Then he was able to stack it with I thought a really good productive spring.

I think there is a guy that’s finding his spot, and certainly we’ve talked a lot about Vince, we’ve talked about T.J., we know that Cich has played the outside backer spot, but I think “Dool” has put himself into a position where he was kinda cutting it loose and playing, and that will be big for us. That’s one of the things we did a nice job of last year was playing four outside backers, and I think he’s put himself into the conversation, he’s given himself a chance for that, and I think he’s a guy that can be a four-phase special teamer. You’re talking about a lot of plays. I think he’s got a chance to participate in it, and I think he can make an impact.

Q. Coach, there’s been talk about this event being low attended, but attendance was pretty good today. What did you think of the sport?
COACH CHRYST: I thought it was a great atmosphere and I appreciate people coming out and like I said in my opening statement, I appreciate what everybody in the athletic department did to make it a good day and you hope it was a fun day for people that did choose to come. I thought our kids — they were talking about it, and they thought it was a neat atmosphere, and I thought it was a really good day.

Q. Coach, how much is this team and defense specifically going to get their identity from Vince and his leadership?
COACH CHRYST: I think every team you want the identity coming from the players, and Vince is — would be the starting point, but you talk about football and you’re talking about especially defensive football, we’re going to be good if the identity is that whole group.

Love having a “bell cow” like Vince, appreciate that a ton, but it’s the whole group that’s — if we got a chance to be a good defense and to be special, it’s because of a lot of people, and we’ve got a lot of different types of personalities on that defense, and we need ’em all to be themselves and be those personalities.

If we’re going to be good on defense, it’s going to be because of everyone, and Vince will have a big part in it, absolutely.