WISCONSIN FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 4, 2021
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Postgame Press Conference
Penn State 16, Wisconsin 10
PAUL CHRYST: First of all, give Penn State credit. They found a way to win. It was an interesting game. Bottom line is that I thought we had a lot of guys across the board do enough to give us a chance. But, you know, we've got to find ways to finish.
Certainly had a number of opportunities in the red zone and didn't do a good job of scoring points. You've got to score points to win. Twice we're inside the five. You got your goal line package in. We jump off-sides once. End of the game, missed exchange. We had another exchange problem in the red zone. You got to take care of the football, all the things that you know about football.
We didn't do it well enough today. We certainly didn't finish the way that you have to, especially against a good team.
You've got to look back, too, and a lot of guys gave us a chance to be in it and gave us a chance for it, but we've got to also find a way to finish.
Again, you have to give the opponent credit in Penn State. It's a tough loss. I'll learn from it. There's going to be some things that you want to build on. We've got to do that. Obviously it's very obvious, there will be other things that we've got to correct and move forward if we want to be a good football team, which I think we can be.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You mentioned mistakes down near the goal line. It's the first game, no pre-season games in college. Would you expect better or more execution from this crew given some of the experienced guys on there?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, just in general, and the types of mistakes that they were. Graham and Chez on a quarterback/running back exchange. The ball comes spurting out on the goal line. You tell them those are things, yeah, whether it's the first game or last game, you think that you would be better than that.
I know procedure penalties happen. But down there, it's that much more important. When you play a good team, all those plays are going to matter.
You're going to look at it. We'll go back and watch the film, and there's going to be some areas, some times where we just got to take advantage of what's there. I don't know that we did.
Q. It seemed as though Jalen Berger was in position to get a fair number of opportunities coming into this season. Why didn't he play today?
PAUL CHRYST: The big thing was Chez obviously got the start. Isaac was next back in. Kind of knew that going into the game. I thought Chez did a lot of good. Same with Isaac. I think it got to be how they were playing. Chez I think got a decent amount of carries. Isaac we thought had more in him, too. I think in the end it's because of what Chez and Isaac were doing.
Q. You say repeatedly every play takes 11 guys. What do you think your quarterback learned today, whether it's ball security, reading things?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, I think there's so much for him to learn from. I think it's unique where you've got to be poised under pressure. It was a good defense. Do a lot of stuff. Everyone says he was comfortable in the pocket early. That's a hard thing, right? You've got to still play with poise under those circumstances. I think there's times when he did and times when he didn't.
Early we got a play-action pass called. We end up taking the grounding penalty on it. That's a huge, first-and-10, penalty. There's so many learning things that come up in a game. Making sure you don't get ahead of the game, you let the game come to you.
I thought there were times where he did really good. I think there's going to be some where we look back and say, You still got to play the game and let it come to you.
Q. For the most part the secondary did a pretty good job. A couple of times when they were in the slot, they got behind the safeties. Was that miscommunication from the corner to the safety level?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, I mean, obviously I thought big picture defense played really well. Like you said, there were some big plays in the passing game, the third-and-10, third-and-long, got a seam. Coming out in the second half, I don't know exactly what happened there, but those are going to be areas we've got to clean up.
Q. When did you find out Leo wouldn't be able to go?
PAUL CHRYST: We found out Friday, yesterday.
Q. You mentioned Chez. Over a hundred yards in his first game. What stood out to you about what he was able to do to help out the offense?
PAUL CHRYST: I thought he ran hard. Was he staying true to everything? He was out there and played, made some yards on his own. I thought he took advantage of some yards over there.
It was fun to see him, though. He gave a lot. I like the way he approaches the game, too.
Q. How are the quarterback's responsibilities and reads different in the red zone?
PAUL CHRYST: I mean, the obvious thing is that as space gets condensed, you are going to have some smaller windows. At the end there, a lot of teams will bring pressure down there. It's a little bit different look.
I think those are the two main things that kind of change kind of that part of the field.
Q. Throughout this week you talked about Hicks, the growth that he's shown. How do you think he did against a guy like Dotson?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, I thought he did well. Like all of it, you're anxious to see it. But I thought he was consistent, was consistent. It was a heck of a challenge. That's a really good football player. I thought he did well.
Q. When it comes to the offensive line, we saw Beach and then the others on the line start off. Beach stayed in there, then you had the interior change lineups. What led to the interior line changing on a couple of those drives?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, we kind of knew going in. You had two first-time starters in Tipp and Nelly. Also with Seltz. In the past Seltz has been one to kind of rotate. Combination of that and felt we had another group of guys that deserved the right to play. Kind of knew going into the game that we wanted to get them some snaps.
Q. After the last year, what was it like having the fans, support from 76,000?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, that part was awesome. I feel bad that we didn't do more for them. But certainly it was special. I think we all went through it. Like I said, I just wish we could have given them more.
Q. A strategy question. You guys were down 16-10, you went for it on the first fourth down. Did the missed extra point factor into it? It was 16-10, threw the pick. Did you think about a field goal there or does the missed extra point by Penn State factor in?
PAUL CHRYST: Thought this might be our chance. Wasn't sure. We had a little bit of time to actually think through it. Kind of went all in on this is the drive. Obviously we didn't finish it.
Q. After he missed most of last season with the head injury, what did you think of Danny Davis' play? Made some big catches today.
PAUL CHRYST: He really did. Some contested catches. I thought he played with great energy. I thought a lot of guys did. That's what will get lost in this one. I thought KP did some really good things. I thought Ferg caught the ball. A big play going in, Ferg makes a heck of a catch. We got a chance to go in and score.
It's hard right now because we didn't finish. Yet Danny, he obviously made some really good plays. The one in the red zone was impressive. Just like to say we finished better so we could enjoy that more.
Q. What kind of message did you have for the team to keep their eyes on the big picture after a week one loss?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, I mean, it's a tough loss, right? Like every game, there's going to be things that you've got to take away from it. Some of these are very obvious. We've talked a lot about them here. There's going to be others that we've got to clean up and build on.
Whether you win or lose, you're going to have those opportunities. The season did not start the way you'd want it to as far as winning the game, yet to win you've got to do -- have to give yourself a chance to be in that position. I thought many did, but you've got to find a way to finish. We didn't do that enough.
A lot of season ahead of us. Like I said, I still like this team a lot. We've got to learn from this, each and every one of us. Not just the players, but myself, all of us. We can and need to be better.
Q. Back to Danny Davis and Jake Ferguson, the weapons on the team. Those two actually caught 17 of Graham's 22 passes. Was that part of the game plan or were they just making plays, winning their routes?
PAUL CHRYST: I thought they were certainly making their plays. We have confidence in a lot of other guys. They certainly made plays.
You never quite know as you go into a game who's going to be getting the ball, kind of where it's going. So those two we expect to be able to get some production out of. Really there's a lot more that we feel need to be a big part of this, as well.
Q. What were the conversations like with Graham after the missed handoff exchange? Fundamentals, or fluke ball slips?
PAUL CHRYST: You got to address it. One, make sure him and Chez, What happened here? That one, thought it was a little bit low. They both have to take ownership in it. You got to prevent those from happening, right? It happened. You've got to learn from it.
We need to be better than that. We need to be able to have quarterback/center exchanges, quarterback/running back exchanges, we've got to be able to handle those.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports