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November 26, 2016

Paul Chryst

Madison, Wisconsin

COACH CHRYST: I'm really proud of this team and thought it took some grit and some perseverance to be able to keep the axe and win that one, and certainly happy for our seniors.

But it was certainly, the game didn't start out the way we would have liked and yet I thought our guys came back in the second half. It was good, the offense went down, didn't score a touchdown but got a field goal. Just getting points was big.

I think a little foreshadow with Musso, the pick he had in the end zone, I think that was their next drive, and certainly the takeaways were huge and the ability for the offense to finish in the second half, I thought our special teams was good in the second half.

But proud of what this group did, as we finish out the regular season and earn the right to play next week. Want them to enjoy it tonight, and you don't take that for granted. Rivalry games, it's a big win, and they are hard to win. Tomorrow we'll push the reset button and get ready to play Penn State.

Q. What was the difference defensively in the second half?
COACH CHRYST: Well, I think we were able to get some -- we were getting some pressures on them. They hit some runs on us early and I thought we did a better job of fitting the runs. I think sometimes take aways become a little bit contagious, and guys were making plays.

But credit to them. Minnesota is a good football team. We knew they were going to give us some problems. I thought guys made some adjustments and were fitting things better, and we were really good second half.

Q. Not sure how good of a look you had on Sojourn's pick along your boundary there, what did you see on that play and did you think that finally turned the momentum in your favor?
COACH CHRYST: I think that was, if I remember right, was it tied at the time? Yeah, I think it was tied and so that was one that kind of gave us the chance -- it was a heck of a break on it. I did see that one, and then the run after it. Both he and Leon, I mean, we get the ball inside the ten and able to finish up with that. But I think that -- I think it was tied at the time.

I felt like we had some momentum, certainly, going, but those are big plays. I thought it was a heck of a pick that he made on the one where it was kind of over his shoulder. Guys were having fun playing, and sometimes it takes one guy to make a play. You know, I believe Leid (ph) had a big sack early, and T.J. had a sack and I know Vince got one late. Everyone was kind of playing and like I said, I thought we did a better job of stopping the run. It was fun to see the way we finished.

Q. Do you have any update on Alex Hornibrook's injury?
COACH CHRYST: Just in talking to him, no medical update, other than asked him how he's doing and he said he feels all right right now, but nothing really medically to give you.

Q. In the first half, you allowed 226 yards on 33 plays. In the second half, it was only 40 on 30 more plays. Did they do anything in the first half that you were not expecting to see, anything new?
COACH CHRYST: No, I think they were executing. They made some plays in the passing game and certainly made some runs. We were just out of -- we didn't fit some of them the way we had been in practicing and those are things that are correctible, took so you don't necessarily have to panic. We just have to do what we do and to give our selves a chance, and I think early we didn't do that and certainly the second half, it was good.

Like I said, they have got a good football team and we knew there was going to be some things that we were going to be challenged on, but a lot of it was just us not really executing the assignment, and therefore, it does give you some confidence that if we just do the things that we can do and what we should be doing, that we'll give ourselves a better chance.

Q. At the half-time message, what were you generally looking for out of your team the second half down ten?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, how are we going to respond. Honestly I told them, I love this situation right now, because we've got to come out and we've got to stop -- I feel like we're playing two teams. We're trying to beat Minnesota and we're also trying to -- we had to stop beating ourselves. So we had to just lock in and one play at a time.

Really, the messaging came -- was pretty cool, the messaging came from the kids more than me. That's a good feeling as a coach when they are grabbing that, and you know then it's going to -- they are going to take it and go with it.

Each game is a different game, and you don't know how it's going to come out. You've just got to keep playing it, and respond to the things that happen. That's I think what makes this one feel good is that we had to overcome some of the things that we did to ourselves and what Minnesota did to us.

Q. Not that you can expect four turnovers in the second half, but^ have you reached a point, where this defense, you do kind of expect those type of performances for long stretches of time?
COACH CHRYST: I think when you say, when you expect it, it's pretty greedy, and that it just happens and it doesn't. You appreciate it every time that they come out and do something like that. But I think to say -- and maybe I'm getting too technical. I mean, they keep doing it, and you appreciate that.

But that's what I love about sports you is don't -- just because you did it before, doesn't mean you're going to do it again. You have to go out and do it, and against a different team, different schemes, and that's why each time it happens, you're appreciative of it.

Q. How do you feel like Bart played today after he became the only quarterback there in the second half?
COACH CHRYST: I thought he did some good things. I thought he did some -- I thought he was pretty good when we were rotating. You know, he just missed Fums, it was like a second and long. He was a little bit off on Fums, kind of on his hip right there. But I thought he had a good week of preparation and felt good when he was in. He made a complete shot but he missed a shot down the field.

But he just kept playing. He competes, and it was -- certainly don't like the circumstances of it, but I was happy for him to be able to play the way he did and finish out, you know, at home on senior day. He takes a lot of pride in helping this team, and I thought he did today.

Q. The guys who did make plays in the fourth quarter would be Houston, Clement, Ogunbowale, a lot of the seniors, Shelton, seniors stepping up and making plays, how does that make you feel on senior day like that watching the guys you need to come through for you do that?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, you're happy for them and this is their senior day. So for them to have a significant hand in it: For Corey to score; and for Dare to punch it in; and Sojourn to come up with a couple picks; and Vince to get a sack, you know, we needed it, and you love it when it's a senior doing it on senior day. It's pretty cool.

Q. What is it about your defense that's allowed them to accomplish so many interceptions these last three weeks?
COACH CHRYST: Again, they have done a good job of playing the ball and expect -- not expecting, but looking for it. Not just knocking it down, but let's get the approximate I can. I think that Jimmy has done a nice job of coaching it. Justin has done a good job of coaching it, Tibs. They work on it. We work on it a lot. But just because you work on it doesn't mean it's going to happen. The kids have taken it.

And I thought that a lot of what was happening up front, we're starting to create some pressure, and any time you create some pressure on a quarterback, you know, maybe the accuracy goes just a little bit or the timing's off a little bit. So it takes everyone to get them and you're thankful. Those are big plays, big plays.

Q. In the first half, Rob had a drop on about the 20 in the first series, and Jazz had a drop from Bart; yet both those guys came back with some big plays. Do you like to see that for them personally, in addition that it helps the team that they were able to overcome that?
COACH CHRYST: Absolutely. There's a lot of guys that didn't do something. You've got to keep playing and persevering. It doesn't always go the way you'd like it to go and yet that's part of the game is to keep playing. Whether it's a team, whether it's a unit, one side of the ball or the other and individuals. Same thing happened defensively. Some guys that miss an opportunity here or miss a tackle and yet we've just got to keep playing, and you get to keep playing.

So when it does come and they are able to make a play, you know, significant play, some of those are, then you feel really good for them.

Q. You touched on it a little bit earlier. You said athletes in the locker room stepping up at half-time. Vince said on the stage out there that it was a soft-spoken Leo Musso who kind of stepped up and delivered a half-time speech. As a coach, what does that do for you obviously makes your job a ton easier and if you care to reveal anything that he said during half-time?
COACH CHRYST: I mean, any time that I think that -- the players are playing the game and it's their game. I think the coaching is trying to help them to maximize their playing in the game and helping them.

Any time that it comes from the players, I think it's powerful, and I thought -- the beginning of the week, the seniors talked about that this game means to them and the focus was just on that.

Of course, I'll never say what someone said in our locker room. They might, but I'm not telling you.

Q. With so much on the line now in terms of playoffs and stuff like that, how much have you addressed what's at stake and how much do you plan on addressing what's at stake this week?
COACH CHRYST: Here is exactly what I told the team. I said that, you know what, today was about playing Minnesota and trying to keep the axe at home, and they did that and to enjoy that and appreciate it. It doesn't just happen.

And tomorrow, we'll push the reset button and we'll get ready to play Penn State and that's the opportunity that we have in front of us. And this team has done a great job of staying in the moment. I think it's the best way to enjoy the season, and I also think it's the best way to play. And so we will focus on the opportunity at hand tomorrow. We're going to appreciate what went into this win and enjoy that, and then tomorrow we'll get ready to play Penn State.

Q. It's been a wonderful season, even historically, you're in the midst of it and you're not going to be looking at that. But what is it about this team, you used the words "perseverance" and "resilient." What is it about this group that makes it so special?
COACH CHRYST: I think it's a group that our strength is the fact that we're a team. You know, we've got individuals that contribute, a ton of individuals, but they still like each other. They like being a part of this team and know we're better with everyone.

It's a group that likes playing football. They like football and they like each other, and they are willing to work. They do; they have grit and persevere. It's been a fun group to be around. I've appreciated them a ton. They have earned the right to play another game and that's pretty neat to be able to do it with this group.

Q. You had Lodo (ph) leading for a long time, five games, and your defense had done well, but in the second half, it looked like he was able to really give you something. What did he give you today, getting him back out there?
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, certainly the signature play he gave us was the sack. But I thought he did some good things in the run game. It will be interesting when you go back and look at it all and see it.

But you know, it was a physical -- I thought it was going to be a physical game, and so we had some bodies. You know, we played a lot of them. We played Hege (ph), Garrett, Connor, Chikwe, Alec, Billy Hirschfield came up with big plays, Zander was in playing. So we needed all those guys, and so I think certainly had a couple plays that were big plays, and I think we needed everyone today.

It was good to have him back and neat for him. He's missed a lot of football and so for him to come back and be a part of this, it was good. It brings back energy. When you get a guy back, it gives you some energy, and it also gave us some production.

Q. Had to do a lot of things in the second half --
COACH CHRYST: Yeah, I mean, it was -- they did a good job early, and they were making enough plays and kind of keeping, not off-balance, but they were staying on schedule, which changes it. I think we did a better job in the second half of getting them -- you know, we did a better job versus the run. So now they are in the second and longs and third-and-longs and that always helps you a little bit as far as getting after the quarterback.

But I think they did some really good things offensively in the first half and we were -- I thought we were pretty good, really good in the second half.

Q. What was kind of the key to getting your running game going there in the second half?
COACH CHRYST: I think once we had made another couple adjustments, but went to a couple things we had not gone to yet, and really when it comes down to it, whether it's offense or defense or special teams, most plays are made when you execute. It sounds simple but that's the truth of it.

So guys getting on their blocks and maintaining those blocks; and backs running. It's the same thing defensively, we cancel the gaps, we're a better run defense than when we give up a gap. I think it was execution as much as anything. Guys executed and certainly we had that stretch where we got the ball in great field position and capitalized on it.

But I was proud of the way they finished. It was nice to finish with the ball in our hand, too. I thought Bradrick did a nice job there. I think execution, football is a great game. It still comes down to football and you've got to execute and make plays, and we were able to do enough more in the second half to give ourselves a chance to win today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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