Following Wisconsin’s 30-6 win over Michigan State in East Lansing this past weekend, head coach Paul Chryst and players met with the media Monday to discuss their most recent win and the next challenge against #4 Michigan this weekend in Ann Arbor.
Hornibrook praised for his performance.
Against Michigan State, Alex Hornibrook started his first game, in which he proved his ability to win and potentially the starting job as he is listed as the starting quarterback in Wisconsin’s official depth chart.
“He did a great job with his first start, and he got us the win,” wide receiver Jazz Peavy said of his quarterback.
Peavy said Hornibrook appeared calm in the huddle, and that stems from his preparation throughout the week and his positive mentality going into every game.
“He’s a very goofy guy. He’s a character,” Peavy said. “[But] he puts in a lot of work, and he understands the position he is in now.”
Chryst stressed all last week that the team needed to improve on red zone efficiency and third downs. In the red zone, the Wisconsin offense produced a touchdown on every attempt. Hornibrook also felt the team showed greater success on third down conversions, though there is still room for improvement.
“I think one of the big things was there were a couple of situations where we were able to convert those third and longs and that definitely helped us out,” Hornibrook said. “At the same time, you can’t bank on that. We’ve got to do better on first and second down, not put that stress on our offense.”
Wisconsin’s elite defense reflects on dominating performance.
The Wisconsin defense garnered the most attention against Michigan State, especially outside linebacker T.J. Watt who had 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks on Michigan State’s quarterback. Watt stressed on Monday the importance of just having fun with the game, and the success will come from that.
“It’s hard to make a play in college, so after the play, you go with your buddy and pat him on the back and say ‘heck of a play man’ and have fun with it,” Watt said. “You’re only doing this for so long, so have fun with it.”
Head coach Chryst said that the defensive’s performance and their big plays allowed for a more successful overall team performance.
“It certainly has been really good when we are getting some takeaways or when you can have a short field.”
“I think when we are playing good defense, it’s because every guy is doing their 1/11th,” Chryst continued.
Michigan will be a true test.
Wisconsin will travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Wisconsin has not played Michigan since 2010, a game that Wisconsin won 48-28. Badger players are excited to take on such a high-ranked team at their prolific stadium that will pose a challenge because of the electric atmosphere of Wolverines fans.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play in the ‘big house,’’’ outside linebacker Vince Biegel said.
The #4 Michigan Wolverines pose a big challenge to Wisconsin’s defense. The number of skilled positions will be an obvious challenge, but Biegel remains confident in his defensive teammates.
“They’re very talented,” Biegel said of Michigan. “I can already tell on film they are well coached. They have some tight ends who are strong, and I can already tell Jim Harbaugh’s done a really great job of tailoring and coaching up the quarterback position. They’ve got multiple running backs that can run the ball.”
“They’ve got a historic football program,” Hornibrook said. “And we see their stadium gets a lot of attention.”
Chryst affirmed that Harbaugh has done a good job of turning this Michigan team around since he became the head coach.
“Jim is a good football coach and has got a good staff and good players,” Chryst said.
One Michigan player that has received a lot of media attention, and for good reason, is Jabrill Peppers, Michigan’s linebacker, safety and punt returner, who can play all three sides of football.
“He’s got to be the best player in college football right now,” Chryst said.
Wisconsin as always is poised to prove themselves as contenders. In high profile games such as LSU and Michigan State, Wisconsin has been the underdog, and it appears that streak will continue going into Michigan this weekend.
The team’s underdog status even as they enter Michigan this week 4-0 is something that motivates wide receiver Jazz Peavy and allows the team to continuously prove the disbelievers wrong.
“The fact that we are overlooked,” Peavy. “I feel like we are always overlooked, that people are always sleeping on us.”
Though Wisconsin is confident in their own abilities, Michigan will definitely be a challenge this Saturday on the road.
“Every unit is going to be tested and is going to be challenged,” Chryst said.