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December 28, 2011

Paul Chryst

Kevin Wilson

Kevin Zeitler


THE MODERATOR:  We're ready to get started with Wisconsin.  We have Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst.  Quarterback Russell Wilson and offensive guard Kevin Zeitler. We'll go straight to questions.

Q.  Two questions for Russell.  First, how do the defenses in the Big Ten compare to those in the ACC?  And obviously each team is different, but in terms of general tendencies, size, athleticism, the ability to adjust quickly, this sort of thing?
RUSSELL WILSON:  I think both the conferences have great defenses, obviously.  And you go to the Big Ten, you see some of these big defensive tackles, big defensive ends.  And the linebackers you notice are big‑time linebackers that you see play in the NFL for long periods of time.
They're both very similar.  Both have a lot of talent.  So in terms of my experience, both conferences have been great to play in?

Q.  How does the atmosphere at Wisconsin differ from the atmosphere at North Carolina, both in the football team and on campus?
RUSSELL WILSON:  In terms of the atmosphere, you know, I love the University of Wisconsin's atmosphere in terms of the fans.  The fans are unbelievable.  NC State fans are great too as well.  Great experience for me too.
Player‑wise, both teams are similar.  Great group of guys.  Well coached.  It's been a great experience for me.  It doesn't happen too often where you're blessed enough to play at one school for three years and do extremely well and then come to another school, a big‑time DivisionI‑A school like University of Wisconsin and have a great experience as well.

Q.  Paul and Kevin, wanted to ask you both about bouncing back from those two losses, the two consecutive kind of heart breakers and how were you able to sort of keep your season on track after going through that?
KEVIN ZEITLER:  Well, obviously those two losses were really rough.  But even though they were difficult times, I don't think anyone on the team really wavered.  We all wanted to stick to our plan and keep going.
I mean, it was unfortunate how it happened.  But no one ever wavered and we just wanted to keep going forward.
COACH CHRYST:  The thing from our perspective, you go into each game and you play and we didn't win those two games, but I felt like there was a lot of things that we could continue to build on.  And there was things in each one of those games that we could have done a little bit better and affected the outcome.
I felt good about the guys throughout it.  Everyone just, what Kevin talked about, held their ground and stayed the course and so it was‑‑ the outcome wasn't what we wanted, but we were getting everything out of the guys, and we just didn't, a play here, a play there, so you didn't lose any confidence.
And the fact is we just didn't do enough across the board to win those games.  But never was it anything to me that shook our confidence.
And so I give a lot of credit to the players and they just kept going back to work and playing the game.  And so proud of being a part of that?

Q.  Coach, can you jog your memory a little bit and tell us about coaching against the Oregon Ducks and more specifically Coach Aliotti defenses?
COACH CHRYST:  Yeah, certainly familiar and both some great memories and some bad memories come back when you think about playing against Oregon, and obviously Coach Aliotti, got a lot of respect for him as a coach.  And I've gotten to know not only him a little bit but his brother, down in the Bay Area, in recruiting, but think the world of him and a lot of respect for him.
And it's been interesting for me this year to watch him and also see how they've evolved.  But certainly have always been‑‑ and I think this year is definitely an example of that.  I think he's always had a well‑coached defense.  Players play hard.  And he gets‑‑ he presents a lot of problems.  So that way it hasn't changed from what I remember going against him when I was with Oregon state.

Q.  Paul, can you explain a little bit the process that went into your decision to coach in this‑‑ remain as the offensive coordinator after you were named the head coach and just what some of the challenges of juggling both of those responsibilities are?
COACH CHRYST:  Yeah.  And I'm extremely grateful that Brett and Coach Alvarez have allowed me to continue on on Wisconsin's end.  And Steve Peterson out at Pitt, and the administration of allowing me to do this.
Because really you get into coaching, and a lot of what drives me is the fact that you can coach and work with the players.  And Kevin and Russell and you'll meet Nick and Monty and Pete, I mean that's what a coach is in it for.  And to be able to finish it out, something that we started, really, last January.  And to be able to finish the season, it means a tremendous amount to me.
And there's challenges with it, but it also‑‑ I think you do the best you can with that.  But it felt from both ends that they wanted me to do this.  And you appreciate that, and you just want to make sure that you do the best you can, that you finish the season outright?

Q.  Coach and Russell, coach can you talk about the talent you have on the offensive front, maybe the best you've had since you've been at Wisconsin.  Can you talk about how much fun it has been designing this playbook and running the schemes and having the players to execute?
COACH CHRYST:  No doubt.  As a coach, you're extremely fortunate to be able to coach good players.  And I think the thing that‑‑ they're obviously talented.  Got a lot of talent up front, but the thing that people don't see is how they approach the game, their work ethic, both on the field and off the field.
And really, you know, there's nothing magical about the schemes that we do.  It's these players, they put their touch on it and that's where I think the magic or the beauty of it is.
And it certainly is‑‑ it makes your job, my job as a coach, awfully enjoyable to be around a group of guys certainly up front in the O line, but I think across the board, we've got a great group of guys that we're fortunate enough to coach, they love the game, respect the game, respect the way you approach preparing for each game.
And then I think more than anything, they truly do love playing the game and all that goes in with it.  So certainly feel very fortunate for that.

Q.  Guys, Oregon's defense.  You guys have seen it.  Compare it to maybe some of the guys you played against this year and what opportunities you're looking for to take advantage of certain spots?
RUSSELL WILSON:  Obviously they fly around, they're extremely well coached so it should be a great game, honestly.  We have a great offense.  They have a great defense.  They don't get to the Rose Bowl for not being a good defense.  They've got a lot of talent on that side of the ball.  I think just any other game you have to capitalize on game alternating plays get your opportunity to score and change the field position and put the ball in the end zone we have to capitalize that and touchdowns wins games.  So I think just like any other game, in terms of who I compare them to, the speed of Michigan State, they're physical like them, too, as well.  It's going to be a battle.  And we can't wait.
KEVIN ZEITLER:  Yeah.  They're a lot bigger than people give them credit for.  And they're very well coached.  They fly around, like Russ said.  And we're going to have to take advantage when opportunities present themselves.

Q.  Russell, what was your biggest challenge coming into this season?
RUSSELL WILSON:  My biggest challenge?  I'm a pretty smart kid.  I guess in terms of learning the playbook, I learned that pretty quickly.
I guess the next biggest thing would be just getting to know the guys, in terms of the way I want to get to know people.  I'm a pretty outgoing guy.
I like to get to know each individual personally.  So that's the biggest challenge that I probably have is trying to get to know each person and get to figure out their names, first of all.  I'm not very good with names.  So I had to learn people's names and all that.
That was probably the biggest challenge.  These guys welcomed me in completely from the coaches to the players, to the fans.  Madison is a great place to play.  It's a great place to live.  It's an awesome experience for me?

Q.  Russell and I guess Kevin, too, we got our first look at Oregon's helmet about 20 minutes ago.  It looks like a big mirror.  Have you seen their helmet?  If so, are you worried about any reflection?  If you haven't seen the helmet just kind of the general Oregon jersey culture, what do you think about what they do and all the jerseys and the Nike stuff they have?
RUSSELL WILSON:  I've not seen their helmets yet.  I'm sure they're good‑looking helmets.  Not really worried about their helmets or anything like that.  We're more focused on the game plan and what we need to do to win the football game.
Obviously Oregon is a great football team, and they have I guess the fashion going on where they can wear whatever they want and look pretty good in it.  But that's not where the game comes down to.  The game comes down between the lines, and we're excited about that opportunity.
KEVIN ZEITLER:  I haven't seen the helmets either.  Sounds pretty cool, mirror helmet.  But like Russell said, we'll just have to play the game and hopefully the helmets don't matter?

Q.  Paul, Oregon's been pretty good at defensively getting to the quarterback, 34 sacks during the season.  Seems like on paper that might be one area where the game could turn, do you see it that way?
COACH CHRYST:  That's always‑‑ this game's no different than a lot of games.  It's:  Can you run the football?  Can you protect the quarterback?  And can you take advantage of opportunities?  And then it's securing the ball.  So certainly this game is no different.
And you can see why I think they do a good job schematically of being able to apply pressure and putting pressure on an offense.  And I think they've got good players doing it.
So it didn't take you long to watch the film to realize they've got that combination of a good scheme with good players executing that scheme.  And that's our job, that we've gotta do a good job across the board of when we're in passing situations, protecting the quarterback, and the quarterback making good decisions.
And so well aware of that and not surprised by it.  But also that's football.  And we've gotta do a good job and look forward to that challenge and that opportunity.

Q.  Paul, you guys score 44, 45 points a game, no secret for those of us that obviously have seen you guys play this year.  Oregon leads the nation with 47 points per game.  Do you mentally prepare for a first one to 50 game, or do you not buy into that mentality of a shootout?
COACH CHRYST:  I really don't.  I think pretty arrogant to think that you're just going to score that many‑‑ you know, we've just been talking about it.  We're not playing lip service to them.  They're a good defense.  I think you play the game, and you find a way.  The only key to victory is finding a way to score one or more points, and however that is, we've got to adjust to it accordingly.
But you go into every game respecting your opponent and preparing your players the best you can.  And then you go out and you play the game and you compete.  And you find a way to whatever's happening in the game, you find a way to make it happen for your group.
So definitely don't get into the mindset of trying to compare, thinking, being so arrogant to think that it's going to be a shootout.  That means you're assuming you're going to do all those things.  You have to go out and earn everything you get on game day.

Q.  Russell, can you just talk about wide receiver Jeff Duckworth?  And you've seen him do well in practice, maybe fans didn't know anything about him until that 4th down play in the Big Ten title game.  Talk about him and how he can be a good key in the game?
RUSSELL WILSON:  Duckworth has a lot of talent, catches the ball extremely well.  Is consistent, runs unbelievable routes.  You know where he's going to be every single time.  That's the hard work we put in during the summer from the short period that I was here during the summer and also during camp, and then all throughout the season.
Duckworth is an intelligent guy.  He's kind of quiet, to be honest with you.  But when we're in the meeting room he's the guy always paying attention, making sure he's understanding what I'm thinking and I'm understanding what he's thinking.
So I think that plays out on game days, typically, and he makes great plays.  And he's had a great season so far.  Came up with a huge catch obviously to put us in the situation, to put us in the Rose Bowl pretty much.  Gotta give tribute to him and his ability to attack the football which we always talk about.

Q.  Coach and Kevin, everybody's out here talking about your offensive line versus their defensive line and the size difference.  Talk about that and maybe how you might take advantage of that.
COACH CHRYST:  Well, I think that both teams are‑‑ Russell said it earlier, you don't get to this game without having good players and most of the time we're going to have bigger linemen.  Linemen are bigger than‑‑ we're not the only team that's bigger than them.  And yet they have got a good defense.
And we've got a good offensive line, and that will be a great matchup.  And I think a lot of football games come down to who wins in the trenches.  So I don't think this game will be any different.  And yet I don't think there's a distinct‑‑ I think both teams can go in and say you know what, they feel good with who they are and who they're bringing to the game.  We wouldn't trade any of that.  But we've got to go out and earn everything we can get.
And the game‑‑ we'll play the game and we'll see.
KEVIN ZEITLER:  Like coach said, we have to earn everything we get.  And that difference isn't very big.  Their two inside guys are‑‑ you have the tall one, you've got the big one, and they've been very effective against everyone they played.  So we can't look at it as an advantage.  We have to just go out and play.

Q.  Kevin and Paul, wanted to ask you about Deon Jordan, the defensive end for the ducks.  Brings a unique skill set with his height and ability to run and long arms.  If you could talk about the way he gets into the backfield?
COACH CHRYST:  He is really an impressive football player.  And I think what you said is what makes him that.
I mean, he's a unique athlete.  Just skill set‑wise, and I think what also helps him is the many different things that he can do, and I think that their group does.  So I think that they've done a great job of utilizing his skills, and I think part of it is because they've got other guys that can do a number of different things, too, that makes it less predictable.
But certainly a heck of a football player, and one that we've got to account for and do a good job on.  But the thing that you can't do is you can't focus so much on him, because they can beat you in other ways.
So you've got to be‑‑ I think they've got one of their strengths is the depth and the talent they have across the board.  So you can't just circle and highlight one guy, put all your attention on that, because I think you get beat in other areas.
KEVIN ZEITLER:  Can, he's an impressive football specimen, very athletic, very tall, and our tackles are going to have to do a very good job to hold him where he needs to go, and like coach said, we have to make sure that we account for him but we also have to account for everything else that we have to do.

Q.  Coach, Paul, and maybe for Russell and the players.  You don't get a lot of chance, a lot of opportunities to watch a team out of your conference during the course of a season, you're so busy with teams inside of your conference.  When were you first aware of Oregon this year, and what were your thoughts about them?  Just overall, not necessarily about their defense, but overall as a unit.
COACH CHRYST:  Well, I think, all of us are also fans of college football.  And certainly the run and what Chip has done, everyone knows.  And so I think you're always aware of them, and really it wasn't until the end of the year, and even then, you know, we're playing every one of those games at the end matter to us and you weren't thinking hey we couldn't‑‑ at least I wasn't thinking if we end up winning this we'll play this team or whatnot.
So it wasn't really after the matchup was set when you sat down and thought okay, here we are, we're playing Oregon, and let's go.  But I think any fan of college football is certainly well aware and really appreciative of what they've done.
RUSSELL WILSON:  You notice Oregon throughout the entire season you see all the points they put up and everything, you watch their style of offense.  Being a quarterback it's always interesting to me to see how effective they are as an offense, to seeing them play on Saturdays, but at the same time, as coach said, we're so occupied with what we're focused on, we play in a tough conference.  So every week is a huge game for us, and that's where our main focus has been.  Right now it's on Oregon and what we can do to capitalize on a win, hopefully.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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