Paul Chryst

Beginning his news conference after Wisconsin’s sloppy 17-14 loss to unranked Washington State, Badgers head coach Paul Chryst blasted one of his own mistakes.

Chryst took a chance on 4th-and-3 from the Washington State 47-yard line early in the second quarter after the Badgers’ offense stalled there. Washington’s Graham Mertz simulated a handoff before rolling to his right and firing a short throw to running back Isaac Guerendo, but Guerendo was unable to advance the ball past the first down marker.

In their home opener, the No. 19 Badgers (1-1) were given a 17-point advantage. I really regret going for it on 4th-and-3,” Chryst admitted. I wish I could redo the previous play in which we faced a 3rd-and-1 and were halted because that gave the opposing team a shorter field on which to work.

The Cougars scored seven points in four plays to put Chryst on the defensive and establish a 7-0 lead. On the second play of the drive, quarterback Cameron Ward lofted a dart of 38 yards to tight end Billy Riviere, who advanced to the Washington 7-yard line before being brought down. Ex-Washington Huskies running back Nakia Watson scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 2-yard run two plays later.

“I trust in our defense,” Chryst remarked. I still feel good about our defense and wanted to put on the offense, so that was the mindset. “You’re in a position where if you feel good offensively, this is a (situation) we have to deliver on it.”

Paul Chryst

Mertz threw two touchdown passes to tight end Clay Cundiff as the Badgers scored 14 consecutive points after that. However, in the second half, that group struggled to score.

In the third and fourth quarters, the Badgers drove the ball deep into Washington State territory on many occasions, but they committed a number of costly mistakes that prevented them from scoring.

The offensive line was particularly at fault for the Badgers’ 11 penalties (106 total yards) that cost the team dearly. On the offensive line, left tackle Jack Nelson had one for 15 yards, right guard Michael Furtney had one for 11 yards, right tackle Logan Brown had one for 10 yards, and center Joe Tippmann had two for 20 yards.

The last two attacking possessions for the Badgers resulted in three penalties. Tight end Jack Eschenbach was flagged for a false start, and penalties on Tippmann and Cundiff negated a 12-yard gain. Cundiff fumbled away valuable yardage at the end of a catch right before the last of those penalties occurred. The final 5:14 of the game were then taken by Washington State.

In addition, kicker Vito Calvaruso had two failed field goals, the second of which was a 43-yard attempt to open the final period. Cornerback Jay Shaw, a transfer from UCLA, fumbled after making an interception and tried to run the other way in the third quarter. A few plays later, Ward hit Watson with a 31-yard touchdown pass.

Everyone, including me, is responsible for this victory,” Chryst added. …We made it more difficult to win today with the actions we took.

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As Gary Andersen left Wisconsin, the Badgers presented Chryst as their new head coach. The Badgers are now ranked sixth in the US in both wins and winning percentage, behind only Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Georgia, and Chryst has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year twice in his five seasons as head coach.

The Badgers had a winning record of 10-3 in Chryst’s first season and ranked first in the nation in scoring defense (13.7 points per game) and second in total defense (333.8 yards per game) (268.5 yards per game). All three losses occurred against teams that finished the season in the AP top 25.

Paul Chryst

These teams were #1 Alabama, #9 Iowa, and #23 Northwestern, all of whom went on to win the national championship. The Badgers had a 0-6 record against USC coming into the game, and their last meeting had been in 1965 at the Colosseum in Los Angeles, thus Chryst’s Holiday Bowl victory was especially impressive.

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The Badgers’ 2016 season started with a bang when they stunned then-ranked #5 LSU at Lambeau Field despite being an unranked team themselves. Chryst received recognition as “Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week” for his efforts. When the new AP Poll was revealed after the first week of college football, the Wisconsin Badgers were placed #10.

The highest ranking for the Badgers since the 2011 season, when Chryst served as offensive coordinator for the Russell Wilson-led Wisconsin squad. Big Ten Conference Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year was awarded to Chryst on November 29, 2016. Wisconsin did not make the College Football Playoff in 2017 despite a 12-1 record. But they won the 2017 Orange Bowl by defeating Miami.

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