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Wisconsin Badgers Football: Paul Chryst Previews the 2019 Offense

Running, passing, it’s all here. Except maybe passing.

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First, a plug. If you don’t follow the “Paul Chryst Memes” Twitter account, you should. It takes actual PC quotes and puts them on a photo and it’s funny because Paul Chryst is the most boring coach to quote in the history of time. UNLESS. Unless you specifically look for how he evades providing any meaningful information for the question asked. Then you appreciate him for the jazz musician he is. @chrystmemes

Here’s a quick sample:

In that spirit, we’ve asked Coach Chryst to help us preview the 2019 Wisconsin Badgers offense. He’ll provide some insight and analysis, followed by your friendly OTE Wisconsin writers doing the same.


“Coach Chryst, Wisconsin and its fans love the way your system uses fullbacks. Sadly, one of the all-time greats and fan favorites, Alec Ingold, has graduated and moved on to the notoriously fullback-friendly NFL. How are things looking in the front half of the offensive backfield this season?”

Chryst: I think anytime you have guys that get out there and work, you take that. Alec, you know, he did some things. I think we’ll go into camp and, you know, we look for the things that have been done and want to do again. And we’ll do that.

OTE Translation: Wisconsin is looking primarily at Mason Stokke and freshman Quan Easterling (First Team All-B1G name) to assume fullback responsibilities, with Stokke very likely to take the job. As far as position battles go, this one won’t have as much to it.

Fullback is a legitimately important position in the Wisconsin offense. Besides the clockwork-like nature of an I-Formation fullback dive on 3rd and short, Wisconsin fullbacks punch it in around the goal line a good amount (Ingold had six TDs in 2018). In addition, we believe/made up that Wisconsin’s tight ends will be weaker run blockers in 2019 than in years past, and making sure Taylor can get Stokke or Easterling out in front of him to spring those 7+ yard carries on first down will be pretty important.


“Coach! Coach over here! Do you have a minute? Wanted to get your thoughts on the quarterback competition for 2019. Are you going with Graham Mertz or Jack Coan, or can we expect a dark horse like Danny Vanden Boom or Chase Wolf to get the start?”

Chryst: When you take a look at the two guys, what you see really are men. They are, you know, they are human males. With Jack, you watch him throw and you see that he’s been there. You want, with quarterbacks, you want a forward ball that your guys can go after. And that’s him. And Mertzy, you like that he really holds the ball. Sometimes with your QB it’s the, uh, it’s the throws they don’t make that matter, and you look at those and, man, you know, good thing. Danny and Chase are doing some things. We’ve got camp coming up and we’ll look at how they do and see how they look. One of those guys, you look at them and you say one of these guys will play.

OTE Translation: Jack Coan is the only quarterback on the roster with any significant experience, starting or otherwise, and that gives him a big leg up on the rest of the field. That being said, Coan hasn’t impressed enough in previous appearances to stymie a full-on position battle. Graham Mertz brings in arm talent Wisconsin hasn’t seen since Russell Wilson, and he can make early noise if he absorbs the pro-style offense quickly and Coan doesn’t impress in camp. Chase Wolf has a chance at turning some heads, even if he’s more of a long shot to win. Perhaps the strongest arm of the group, his recruitment really took off late with Ohio State trying to flip him. It will be interesting to see if the Badgers go with upside or experience here.

Running Backs

“Coach got a quick one for ya. Running backs, right?!?”

Chryst: Running the ball is a part of the game you pay attention to. I think, if you, if you can move the ball, you want that. When you can run the ball, you know, that helps you score. So we try to focus there and get our guy going and expect things to happen. And I think if you look at the other sideline and look at what they’re doing, I think you say they’re thinking the same thing.

OTE Translation: Jonathan Taylor. Backups are...kinda unknown. Nakia Watson is a redshirt freshman with a good chance at playing time. Garrett Groshek, everyone’s favorite option-running, former HS QB of a battering ram is back and, given how often he played on third downs last season, should see plenty of playing time. Bradrick Shaw is also back after missing all of last year recovering from an ACL torn the year before that. Not sure if any will replace Taiwan Deal’s sneaky-great season last year, but these are Wisconsin running backs—they’ll get their yards.

Offensive Line

“Coach Chryst, you’re looking at an offensive line that lost three guys to graduation and another to retirement. Obviously everyone who’ll read this knows that Wisconsin is O Line U, and that Wisconsin is indisputably the best school to attend if you want to become a rich NFL linemen, but what would you say to the fans and readers who wonder, ‘will this year’s O Line be the best in the B1G, or the best in the history of the conference?’”

Chryst: That’s one thing in this game, each year there’s guys that work and you appreciate them. Then the season ends and some of them, you know, some of them have to move on. We might want them around and they might want to stick around but, if, if it’s time to move on you respect it. So we look at the guys that stayed. How good, I think if we look at how good they are, we’re talking about players. They’ll decide how they get ready, get fit and go. And when they play, if you look around and there is no one better, I think you look at them and say they’re the best.

OTE Translation: 80% of the 2018 Wisconsin offensive line is gone, but the guys who’ll start this season should be pretty good. Tyler Biadasz is back as one of the best centers in the country and has shown himself to be an excellent blocker, pass protector, and ball snapper. Biadasz projected as high as the first round in this past NFL Draft, so getting him back is an absolute luxury. Cole Van Lanen will be at left tackle, which is back to being the important tackle spot now that left-handed Hornibrook is gone, and while technically a “new” starter, Van Lanen played a lot last season. Jason Erdmann, Logan Bruss, and Tyler Beach project to fill in the rest of the line from the QB’s left to right. Eagle-eyed fans will notice a familiar name—Kayden Lyles—backing up multiple positions. Lyles was an uber-emergency D Line player in 2019, and it’ll be good to see him back where he’s actually supposed to be playing. A new name to look out for is Logan Brown. Arguably the top lineman recruit in the country, Brown was perhaps the biggest recruiting win in Wisconsin’s history. He’s the most hyped lineman the Badgers have signed, and it’s Wisconsin, so we assume he’s basically Larry Allen.

The OTE Wisconsin writers took a vote, and while we might be a little worried about a dropoff in performance from last seasons best-in-the-nation run blocking line, we’re both very confident this year’s line will be very, very good. Again.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

“Just a couple more, Coach. First of all I’m impressed with all these wardrobe changes. What can we expect out of the Wide Receivers this year, regardless of who is zinging lasers to them? And second, we all know that Jake Ferguson is a good pass-catching TE and Barry’s grandson. What else can you tell us about Wisconsin’s tight ends as we head into the 2019 regular season?”

Chryst: When you coach the skill guys you want them, you want them to show skill. For us at least, if they can run, catch, and block, we’re looking for them to do that. Jake, he’s a player. When someone has a history, you know, family that people know, that’s someone you watch in the game and sometimes look for more. Jake can get in there and do that, and you respect it. We want our guys, more guys to be able to get on the field and play, and I hope they do.

OTE Translation: Jake Ferguson has been a legit threat in the “we need exactly ten yards” passing game. Even when Hornibrook struggled last year, Ferguson shined, basically turning all receptions into touchdowns or third-and-long conversions. He’ll have a healthy-again Luke Benzschawel on the field with him a lot, because the more big blockers on the field, the faster Jonathan Taylor gets.

The wide receivers might actually be Wisconsin’s strongest and most-stable offensive group this year, top to bottom. Starters will probably be Danny Davis and A.J. Taylor, with Kendrick Pryor as an excellent third option. After that, there’s a bunch of guys who will share enough receptions to warrant mention: Aron Cruickshank returns and is fast but probably needs more than one reception in 2019, Jack Dunn and Adam Krumholz should pick up most of the receptions that don’t go to the top 3 guys. One freshman name to look out for is Taj Mustapha, who redshirted last season and could emerge from his depth chart burial with a strong camp.


What will be the most critical focal point of Wisconsin’s fall camp?

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