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December 6, 2019

Paul Chryst

Indianapolis, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: We welcome the head coach of Wisconsin, Paul Chryst. Coach, if you'd like to offer a short statement perhaps before tomorrow's championship game, then we'll open it up for questions.

PAUL CHRYST: Certainly appreciative of the opportunity to be here, given to us by our team. I like this team a lot. Earned the right to play in this game obviously against a heck of an Ohio State team.

I like our group, too. We've had a good week of preparation. Looking forward to getting the opportunity to play tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: We'll entertain questions.

Q. Ohio State has been so dominating this year. At least you've seen them. How much does that help you, there's familiarity, no mystique or aura about them because you played them?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, obviously it hasn't been a lot of time. In fact, the first Big Ten Championship we played Michigan State, then saw them again. I think it helps your players understand a little bit more about the things you can't see on film. I think of it as kind of how the game felt, the feeling of going up against them. I think there's certainly some things to be taken from it.

I also believe you're not replaying that game. That game happened. But I think your players should take some things away from it that can help them on both sides.

Q. What do your fans mean to you?
PAUL CHRYST: Our fans mean everything to us. I bet you every coach would say that. You appreciate the loyalty. You appreciate the support that you get from them. I think it's real for our players. The fans I think are a great part of our university at Wisconsin and a great part of what makes college football special.

Q. From the beginning of the season and the middle of the season, did you expect to win back the axe from Minnesota and make it to the Big Ten Championship game?
PAUL CHRYST: I think before the season, certainly those are motivations, those are goals. Yet each week you kind of focus on that week. But certainly our last game when we played Minnesota, it always is a big game. This year certainly was that.

We think as a team you don't worry about where you're going to end up at the end of the year, you worry about playing the season. If you get the opportunity to earn the right to play more games, you're appreciative of that. This group has done that.

Q. What are you looking for in the Wisconsin players?
PAUL CHRYST: If I'm understanding right, I'm looking forward for our players to have this opportunity to play in the championship game, to put it out there and play as a team. That's what I'm most looking forward to from our players.

Q. When you're going up against a team like Ohio State who is now in this game for a third year in a row, has had such a successful season, what kind of pressure does it put on you and your program to kind of keep pace with what the Buckeyes are doing right now?
PAUL CHRYST: Obviously it's impressive what they've done. I think it's all about spend less energy on worrying about them, you better put all your focus and energy on your team, how can we become the best team that we can be. Obviously got a ton of respect for what they're doing. It's not easy. I think that's what makes it impressive.

But the focus I believe has to be on individual, you yourself as a player and as a coach, then the program, knowing that you're competing against everyone. But the focus and energy has to be on how do you become the best program, how do we become the best program we can be, team we can be.

Q. You've said a couple times that you like this team. Since every team is different, can you expand on what are some of the things you've enjoyed about this team from start to finish?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, I like the fact that this team, I think we've had great leadership, not just from our seniors. We've got great leadership. I think it's taken on their personality. I think that's one thing that I like about them.

I think they truly like, I think they love playing the game, I think they truly care about each other. And every day they come in with an energy and spirit that's fun to be around and I think is infectious.

Q. We know how well Jack has played at quarterback for you guys this year. We also know how important it is for every program to have backup quarterbacks you believe in, to have quarterbacks you're developing for the future. What have you seen from Graham Mertz this year coming along, if you would need him ever, how good would he be, and developing a guy behind Jack?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, that's the developmental part for every program, for every coach. I think that's one of the fun parts of the job. I've been impressed and appreciate what Graham has done. I think he has taken advantage of this year. He came early, so he was here in the spring. You got summer, fall camp. I do feel confident that when he did play, we felt confident. Should that come up again, feel good about where he's at.

One of the things I love about him is that I think he's a guy that will always work. There will never be a day where he's not trying to get better. I think he's done a great job of kind of learning, maybe not getting as many snaps. A lot of the learning is in practice. But just being around and seeing him, I've liked what he's done this year.

Q. With both of you guys being Madison guys, having a lifetime in football, what is your relationship with Greg Mattison with Ohio State?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, I mean, Greg is a guy I've been fortunate to know. Really my whole family knows him. Utmost respect for him as a coach and probably more importantly as a person. I really mean that.

I've kind of followed him, had opportunities -- never worked with him, but go up against him. I don't say this about a lot of them, but truly a great coach. He's a guy that loves the game, can coach it. I think he cares about the game. A ton of respect for him.

Q. A.J. Taylor declared out. What has he meant to the program? What will you miss without having him available?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, A.J. has meant so much not just to this team but to the program. Always have admired the way that he's gone about every day. Unbelievable worker, leader on this team. He cares about the guys.

I also think he's a heck of a football player. It was good to see him. He was at the facility today, but he's not with us here. We've been spoiled because A.J. hasn't missed games. We'll miss him. We'll miss him that way.

But it was good seeing him today. He's been a really important part of this team.

Q. How important has it been with Jonathan Taylor struggling against Ohio State in his career, but have the emergence of the jet sweep of plays, the wildcats that open up the run game?
PAUL CHRYST: I think it's important. We felt this really all year, yet I think we've been doing a little bit better job with it. For us to be the best offense we can be, we need everyone.

J.T. has carried the load for a lot of games. If we want to be the best offense that we can be, give ourselves a chance, we need everyone.

Q. What has Danny Davis done for you this year? How do you approach recruiting Ohio?
PAUL CHRYST: Danny, not just this year, but since he's been here, he's had a big impact on our team, a guy that I love being around. As far as our approach to Ohio, we've always -- Joe Rudolph recruits Ohio, has done a great job there. The players we've gotten, many of them have had a big impact on our team, on our program.

Q. You're a Wisconsin guy. You've been at this championship a couple times. I asked you at the Big Ten press conference in July how special is this for you being a Wisconsin guy, looking at that trophy and thinking, This is my state?
PAUL CHRYST: I think obviously it means a ton to me to be here representing Wisconsin. I've always felt really fortunate in all the jobs I've had, I felt really lucky to be coaching, right?

I think there's a whole other layer when it's a place that not only did I go there, was part of the team, but my dad was there, my dad coached there. There's family to it. Obviously it means a lot.

I think what means the most is, I think a lot of places, certainly the place is meaningful, but it's people that make it. When you go to a place where there's a lot of layers, a lot of people that you know, I think that adds to the depth and the meaning of something.

But I've always felt really fortunate to the places I've gone. This is home. This is where I grew up. It obviously means a lot.

Q. What are your plans for beating the No. 1 team in the country and Chase Young?
PAUL CHRYST: Those are hard questions (laughter).

Our plans? Chase Young obviously had a huge impact on the first game we played him. He's a great player. We've got to do a better job against him. It comes down to you've got to play the game. We get to play the game. You've got to play good football. You've got to take advantage of opportunities when they come your way. You've got to create some of those.

It comes down to obviously playing against a really good, talented, well-coached team. But we're excited for that opportunity.

Q. As you look at Ohio State's defense, what jumps out at you, especially since you've seen them live, past Chase Young? What's impressive about their defense?
PAUL CHRYST: I think what's impressive about their defense is, one, they've got very talented players. They're playing all together. The front is connected with the back and the secondary. They do a good job of adjusting to things, quick adjustments.

When I talk about well-coached, you see a group that looks to me like they know exactly what they're doing. They do enough things that they cause you problems schematically, but it doesn't slow them down. They're certainly an attacking defense. It's made up of a lot of really good players.

Same thing with their offense, you try to focus on putting too much energy into one player, there's others that are going to beat you. I think obviously it's a defense that's playing really well. We know that firsthand.

Q. If Ohio State wins tomorrow night, they will become the first team ever in the Big Ten to win three outright championships. How hard is that, to do what they're attempting to do?
PAUL CHRYST: I think it's really hard to do it once. To be able to do it and repeat on that, I think it's really hard. Pretty much it, isn't it? It's a hard thing to do. They don't just hand this out; right? You have to go earn it.

Q. Justin Fields has taken care of the football all year long. How tough of a test is it going against a quarterback that just seems to take so much care of the football and is so smart with it?
PAUL CHRYST: Yeah, I think that's what makes him good, makes him very good; right? They play the game the right way.

Q. Seeing what Ryan Day has done in his first year as a coach, what do you see as a fellow head coach that you think is enabling him to have the kind of success he's having at Ohio State?
PAUL CHRYST: There's a lot in that question that I don't know, right? But I know from where I sit, I'm awfully impressed with him. It could be in his first year, it could be in his 20th year, what that team is doing. Obviously it's led by him. I think it's really impressive what they're doing.

Again, there's no doubt they're a talented team, but I think they're a very talented team that's really well-coached. Doesn't matter what year it is for him, the job that they all are doing, it's impressive. It's not easy to do.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, good luck tomorrow evening.

PAUL CHRYST: Thank you.

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