With the start of Big Ten play looming, the quarterback contest and red zone efficiency were the highlights of head coach Paul Chryst’s press conference on Monday.
“I don’t think about the odds,” said Chryst about the Badgers’ 3-0 start despite their poor red zone efficiency. “I do think about how we can be the best we can be, and we need to take advantage of those opportunities.”
“If you want to win consistently you have to be efficient in red zone offense, red zone defense and third down,” he added.
The Badgers will start Big Ten play this Saturday by traveling to East Lansing, Mich., to take on No. 8 Michigan State. This is the first time Wisconsin is making the trek to East Lansing since 2011.
“Well, I’m appreciative of what the group of kids, players and coaches have done in non-conference, and now we’re all excited to start Big Ten play,” Chryst said.
The coach had quite a bit to add on the subject of the quarterback contest between Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook; however, none of what Chryst said seemed to hint at a full-time starter.
“They both have to do a great job of preparation,” he said. “We need to keep working to get better. I think there are some good things that both Bart and Alex have done well, and they need to continue to do well and build on that.”
The Badgers will be looking to continue their hot start by taking their tough schedule one game at a time. First up: this Saturday versus a strong Spartans team.
Some people say everything is bigger in Texas, and it appears as though Badgers’ outside hitter Molly Haggerty took that to heart this past weekend.
Haggerty set a school record for kills in a match versus No. 16 Texas A&M and led the Badgers to a 3-0 victory.
“It was a good week down there in Texas,” said head coach Kelly Sheffield.
The Badgers followed the Friday victory up with an upset over No. 2 Texas on Sunday. The Badgers were facing match point in the third and fifth sets but fought their way to a 20-18 victory in the decisive set.
When asked about facing those match points, Sheffield said, “It’s not a Big Ten match and it’s not an NCAA tournament match … win or lose I’m thinking, ‘I’m proud of how our team is playing.’”
The Badgers returned from their road trip in Texas with two more wins in their pocket and will commence Big Ten play this weekend with matches against No. 16 Ohio State and Maryland.
“I don’t know, it should be a fun ride,” said Sheffield of the high-caliber Big Ten teams.
Head coach Mark Johnson sounds just about as ready as anyone to get the hockey season started.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement in our camp,” he said. “Obviously we returned a lot of good players who had very good seasons last year.”
The Badgers start the season ranked No. 1 in the country, but that doesn’t seem to phase Johnson.
“I don’t mind having high expectations,” he commented. “I think it keeps everybody sharp and focused.”
Adding onto the topic of the ranking honors, Johnson spoke about returning senior Ann Renee.
“If you look at what we return … our goalie is back and coming off a phenomenal season last year,” he said. “On paper we look pretty good.”
The first official practice as a team will take place Tuesday with all the players hitting the ice. Although the team is returning a lot of experienced players, they will also have some teaching to do.
“We brought a lot of freshmen in and we’re trying to get them up to speed as quickly as we can,” Johnson said.
League play starts this Friday at St. Cloud State, followed by another contest against the Huskies on Saturday.
“As I look at my roster and look at our senior captains, we’re in a good position,” said Johnson. “They’re good kids, they work hard and they’re good players. The younger kids will be able to look up to them.”
There definitely seems to be a sense of excitement for the season as well as some nerves in terms of living up to the No. 1 ranking.