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July 24, 2018

Paul Chryst

Chicago, Illinois

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Paul Chryst.

PAUL CHRYST: I'm grateful to be here representing the University of Wisconsin and our players, and I feel very fortunate, one, to be a football coach, and, two, to be able to do it at your alma mater, means a lot.

I'm excited for everyone here to get to know the three players that came with us: Michael Deiter, offensive lineman; D'Cota Dixon, safety; and T.J. Edwards. I think that's the best part of my job is getting the opportunity to work with those players. Excited for those who haven't met them to get to know them and they truly, I think, make our team special and they're representing all of our players.

Certainly we're excited for this season. And I think the beauty of going into every season is you don't know what's to come. It truly is a journey.

And yet we're looking forward to it. And I appreciate the work that's gone into it by everyone. And we're excited to report August 1st and to start camp and try to make the most of the opportunity that is this season.

And the best way to do that is just making the most of each day. And our group gets that. And, again, I'll go back that's why it's fun to be their coach and that's why I'm grateful to be here representing them and the University of Wisconsin.


Q. I just wondered, what's the biggest improvement you've seen in Alex Hornibrook over the years, and what are the qualities that you admire the most about him?
PAUL CHRYST: There's a lot of things that I admire about Alex, and one of those is his desire to be the best he can be. And he truly is that. He's a great worker. He's a really good teammate.

Our players like him. He likes our team, his teammates. And you do, you appreciate the way that Alex works. And certainly now he's had a number of experiences and done a lot of good things in those. And certainly there's areas in every part of his game, just like any other player, that he can get better at, but he works at it.

And he's fun to be around with. And I'm fortunate for the time we've had, and I look forward to this year and being around him and hopefully helping him to continue to grow.

He's a heck of a quarterback now, and yet I still think he can get better. And that's fun to be around.

Q. How do you handle continuously being the hunted in the Big Ten West, especially with other programs being on the rise and gaining momentum? What's that conversation like with your players?
PAUL CHRYST: I think we know how competitive the Big Ten is. And really every week it's a great challenge. And our players know that. And so you know -- there's great players in this league. I've always thought that. And I know there's great coaches in this league.

So you know people are going to get better. And each week it's going to be a great competition. And you just want your players to be as prepared for that as they can be and then go out and play.

All we talk about is give yourselves a chance to have a chance. You know there's great, like I said, players and teams across the field from you. And whether you're hunted, you're hunting, we're all trying to do the same.

I think the biggest thing you can do is try to focus on the areas that you can impact the most, and that's yourself. So you just want your players in a good spot and focused and appreciate the opportunity of great competition.

Q. I think one of the national media outlets, CBS or someone, came out with an article that said Wisconsin can win the national championship. Is that something that has been discussed, talked about as a goal, the belief, after being a contender for 20 years in the Big Ten that Wisconsin 12-0 regular season last year is ready to take that step and be in the playoff and win the national championship?
PAUL CHRYST: There's a lot of teams that have goals and aspirations and you talk about in your question, you know, you have a chance, too. Just talked about that earlier.

And it's not like -- nothing that happens outside really impacts inside the room. And our expectations and our goals inside the room have always been really high. And once you set those, then I think you've got to go back, and the only way to reach, obtain those goals, is to take advantage of each day and focus on that.

And you earn the right to be -- we're talking about earning more opportunities, earning games, whether that's trying to win the Big Ten West so you can earn the right to play in the Big Ten Championship Game, earn the right to play in a bowl game, all those things are earned.

And the only way to get there is by making the most of each day and each opportunity. But there's nothing that's said outside that is going to impact more what's happening on the inside. And our team, we have high expectations.

And that bar's been set because of those that have come before. And some of them are on our team now what they've done. And each year is a new opportunity. That's what's fun about it.

There's a lot of storylines, but nothing's happened yet; you have to go out and earn it. That's why the season is fun. That's why I said earlier it's a journey, and you want to enjoy that journey with your players and you want them to maximize that opportunity.

But I don't think anything that's happening or is being said outside -- I feel pretty fortunate, with our team, you know, a lot of the guys that are playing now were a part of very differing storylines going into season.

So, therefore, they should know that nothing matters what's being said outside; it's what you do with your opportunity.

Q. The rest of the country kind of saw outside the Big Ten the skill position players you had and how they performed against Miami. Would you say going into this season that this is maybe the most depth that you've had at running back receiver since you've been there?
PAUL CHRYST: I think that I'm glad of who we have on our roster. I think when I think of since I've been here -- I know I left for three years, but I've been at Wisconsin, we've had a lot of good players.

I think we're starting to get some depth at the receiver spot. Love the fact that Jonathan Taylor is our running back. And I think we've got good depth there. But I've also been fortunate to be a part of some really good teams and specifically at running back, depth at that position.

So all those are good narratives. And the guys, we get an opportunity and the running backs an opportunity to prove that this is the -- whether they're one of the better groups that's ever been, a lot of that stuff that people like to talk about -- all I know is that group cares about their team, whether it's receivers, running backs, they want to do all they can to help this team be the best we can be. That you appreciate as a coach.

Q. When you talk about the skilled position players but you're returning four all-conference offensive linemen how important is it to have them established as you come into the season?
PAUL CHRYST: I think it's really important. And we feel fortunate for all the work that guys put into it and we've got offensive linemen, we've got a lot of guys that played really good football.

Defensive line, you've got Olive who's played a lot of football, and we've got a younger group. But it doesn't just happen. And I know there's been a long history of really good linemen. But they have to work and they have to put themselves in position.

And Coach Rudolph, offensive line coach, and Inoke Breckterfield, our defensive line coach, they spent a lot of time with them and love the fact that we have guys with experience. And if you're going to be a good team, you have to be good in your offensive and defensive lines.

So it's a good starting point. And we've just got to continue to work to get better.

Q. How do you look at the notion that most people have that the power in the Big Ten is in the East; the West is a little bit of the least, so to speak, but what's your view on that?
PAUL CHRYST: My view is that I think there's some really good teams in the Big Ten, and they're in the East or in the West, and so don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out narratives.

I know who we play this year. And you respect every opponent. And you know that you've got to play well to give yourself a chance.

And so that's what I feel -- I feel like ever since I've been part of the Big Ten, you know each week is going to be a heck of a competition and a heck of a battle.

And that's the fun part about playing in the Big Ten, coaching in the Big Ten, and your players know that, too. And you know what? Had great games with teams from the East; great games with teams from the West.

So to me that's the beauty of playing in the Big Ten. You've got to be ready every week.

Q. Paul, the Big Ten Conference, I guess if you look at the identity, people would say it's a defensive conference, it's a conference that runs the football. In the past two years, the Big Ten West added Jeff Brohm, known as an offensive guru, and now this year Scott Frost. What do you think maybe the changing of the identity of the Big Ten at least in the West?
PAUL CHRYST: The last part of it?

Q. What do you think about some of these new coaches, if they can change maybe some of the identity of the Big Ten with their offensive schemes?
PAUL CHRYST: I don't know about identity. I know they're really good football coaches. And obviously we got to play against Purdue and Jeff last year, and not just Jeff, I think their whole staff. And certainly we all know and appreciate what Scott did last year.

And so I think that there are really -- I'm not just saying it to -- there are really, really good coaches in this league. And you know that. And I think that they bring a lot to the table.

And then you do that with really good players. And so I think they're going to have an impact. And I think that all coaches can have an impact on the league, but it's really only through their players. And yet there's no question, it's one of the things I enjoy coaching in the Big Ten because you know there are really good players and you know that there's really good coaches.

And therefore you've got to elevate your game.


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