Realty One

Monday, January 1, 2018


Paul Chryst was with the 1996 Roughriders
MILWAUKEE - No. 6 Wisconsin was minutes removed from wrapping up the winningest season in school history when coach Paul Chryst started talking about the future.

The first 13-win season in school history may be difficult to duplicate in 2018, especially with the restocking that must be done on one of the nation's top defences. The offence, though, looks more promising than ever after the 34-24 win over Miami at the Orange Bowl.

"We've taken a lot of pride in everything that happened, what the players, coaches did before us,'' a proud Chryst said Saturday night after the program's fourth straight bowl win. "They have a responsibility to keep that going and try to build on it.''

Chryst in 1996. Photo: Norm Fong
Chryst was the offensive coordinator on Jim Daley's coaching staff with the 1996 Saskatchewan Roughriders (pictured) and also spent a season with the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders.

Running back Jonathan Taylor will return after a record-setting freshman season. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook heads into the off-season with the best performance yet of his two-year career - a four-touchdown night against the Hurricanes on the road.

The Orange Bowl played out as a microcosm of the rest of the season for the Badgers (13-1), who fell behind 14-3 and overcame mistakes to pull away for a victory. Wisconsin came up one comeback short of making the playoffs after losing 27-21 to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.

"I think the best part of tonight was a reflection of what it's been all year, and it's a great team victory,'' Chryst said following the Orange Bowl.

Other notes on the 2017 season and a peek ahead to the 2018 campaign:

DEFENSIVE DEPARTURES: The defence didn't slack off even after arguably its best player, Jack Cichy, went down in training camp to a season-ending knee injury. Fellow inside linebacker T.J. Edwards, an AP All-American selection, was weighing whether to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Junior cornerback Nick Nelson already has announced he's entering the draft, leaving three holes to fill in the secondary around returning safety D'Cota Dixon. The Badgers also face heavy losses on their underrated defensive line and at outside linebacker, where Leon Jacobs and Garret Dooley played well in their only season as starters.

STRONG UP MIDDLE: Even if Edwards leaves, Wisconsin should be strong again at inside linebacker with Ryan Connelly and Chris Orr returning. Junior Andrew Van Ginkel turned into a playmaking force at outside linebacker late in the season, including a momentum-changing interception against Miami.

"It gives us a lot of confidence to know we can play with the big dogs in college football. Now we have to go back to work,'' Van Ginkel said.

Spring practice will be important especially for young players to step up on the line and in the secondary. Keep in mind that co-ordinator Jim Leonhard already has a good track record of developing talent in the defensive backfield after just two years of experience as an assistant coach.

TAYLOR MADE: The next star in the Badgers' backfield didn't even begin the season as the starter. Taylor finished the year as a Heisman Trophy hopeful after setting a major college football record for a freshman with 1,977 yards rushing. An experienced offensive line figures to return mostly intact _ so expect the run game to keep bowling over opponents in 2018. Sophomore Bradrick Shaw and junior Chris James were leapfrogged on the depth chart by Taylor but served as more-than-capable backups. Another freshman, Garrett Groshek, emerged as a hard-charging reserve.

PASSING FANCY: The most important development from the Orange Bowl for Wisconsin was the play of Hornibrook, who had an up-and-down year marked by productive play in the red zone and head-scratching interceptions. Hornibrook showed poise in the pocket, made impressive back-shoulder throws and fired darts into tight windows. While Wisconsin loses standout tight end Troy Fumagalli, the receiving corps is loaded with young playmakers including freshmen Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor, along with sophomores A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus.

Just the potential of more balance on offence could make defences think twice before loading the box to stop Jonathan Taylor.

SCHEDULE: The 2018 schedule looks tougher, with five Big Ten road games including trips to Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State, plus a visit to a resurgent Purdue in late November. More offseason questions lie on defence than offence for the first time in a while, though a fifth-straight season of double-digit wins is within reach behind the rock-solid run game and Chryst's steady leadership.

(With files from the Associated Press)


Anonymous said...

hey you posters out there on Rod's site.....did you hear that Horsey has been booted off of 3downnation?? Drew canned him....ha ha . Now get ready for him to blitz this site with rider bashing, he has done this regularly. Time to get rid of him from here too hey Rod??

Anonymous said...

Rod, this is so far off topic that I don't expect you to post this but it may provide some food for thought for you and sportscage guests.

My sports highlight of 2017 is the Vegas Golden Knights.

No, my highlight isn't how well they are doing, it's how they've shown what a rut NHL management and coaching is in. This is an expansion team, made up of rejects other than goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury who has missed most of the season due to injury.

The powers to be (30 GMs and 30 Head coaches) had 'pigeon holed' all of Vegas's forwards as third or fourth liners. The same rocket scientists cast the Vegas blueliners as 7th defensemen.

Well a funny thing happened. Some of those rejects had to be elevated to first or second liners and others attained first or second pairing. As a group they are near the top of the league in most categories. To me the Vegas Golden Knights are proving just how inadequate the men in charge of the NHL really are because of all their pre-conceived notions.

Thanks for your time and Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

You’ve got my vote.

Anonymous said...

Who is Horsey?

Anonymous said...

Yes, who is horsey?

Anonymous said...

That's a very nice black & white pic of "The Sask. Football God Mr. Kent Austin. He's personally responsible for 3 of the Roughriders Grey Cup Championships in their CFL history don't you know? Thank you RODPEDERSEN.COM

Anonymous said...

Who???? Blitz this site???? Rider bashing????
Bring it on Horsey whoever you are!!!!
I''ll can this Horsey troll in his tracks asap!!!!

From the Engine that Drives In the 306, V8.

w said...

Normie Kwong was also team photographer back in the day.