MADISON - Through nine practices this spring, it's become evident that there will likely be ups and downs in 2011 at the quarterback position. That's not a slight on the progression of Jon Budmayr, Joe Brennan or Joel Stave. It's just the reality of starting a young quarterback.
Some days are better than others, but overall progress is being made. Hoping to learn a little more about the quarterbacks, BadgerBlitz.com took some time to chat with offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.
The following is a question and answer with Chryst.
Now that we're nine practices in are they starting to make the strides that you'd hope to see, especially at quarterback?
Chryst: We're getting there. Each day there are good teaching moments and you just keep going. You're certainly glad it's April and not August, but I think guys are learning something every day. If you learn from that then you'll be able to grow.
You look at Jon and it's starting to become a consistent theme where balls are getting batted down at the line of scrimmage. Is there any concern there?
Chryst: Yeah, there's always a concern. I had some last year with Scott and the year before with Scott. You don't like it, especially if it leads to turnovers, but you just keep progressing. There's a lot of things that come into that. You've just got to keep looking at it and seeing the things you can control out of it. You move forward.
Is it things he's doing wrong, or is it just the defensive line doing some things?
Chryst: It's a combination. You get movement and you're late on some things and out of rhythm. You're scraping up into it and all of a sudden you don't have the space you're used to so there are different things that account for it.
I guess it's better to have in March and April than in the fall.
Chryst: Absolutely. That's with all the things. A lot of things happen in spring ball that are going to kill you in games. If you can learn from those and find a way to minimize those and eliminate them, then you're growing and getting better.
What have you seen out of Joe Brennan this spring? Obviously you look at Jon who came in early and Stave is early this year, when you compare Brennan to Jon is he maybe a little bit behind where Jon was coming into his second spring ball?
Chryst: Certainly. Jon was going into his second spring and he had been around it. This is the first time where he's been here. He (Brennan) hasn't been here a full year. But I think it's important to him and I think he's approaching it the right way. He just needs to keep growing and making improvements.
Is he getting a feel for the playbook? Is it starting to come together for him?
Chryst: I think it's starting to come together for him. He sees some things. He's certainly not there yet, but I have no qualms with the way he puts time in and is trying to learn and just keep growing.
You look at Joel and obviously he's only nine practices into his college career, but it seems like he's a confident guy out there.
Chryst: Yeah, I've been impressed with that. That's a credit to him because he has done a good job picking up enough to at least function. So he does some good things and I think you can see some things where the wheels are still spinning. Fortunately a lot of times you just need to go through that. I've been pleased with the way the group is working. Certainly we're nowhere near the execution we want, but I think that's part of the process.
Does he have pretty good mechanics when he throws the ball? It seems like he's got a pretty good release.
Chyrst: Yeah, he's capable. He's a good player. We're really excited he's with us. Yeah, I think he's got a lot of things to build on.
If you look at the backfield, particularly Montee Ball, it seems like he came in very motivated. He lost some pounds and looks like he runs with more speed and power. Obviously James White looks like he's bulked up his legs. Is that encouraging in your eyes. I would think it would be.
Chryst: Yeah, we need those guys. Those guys did a lot of good things last year. Any player you want to improve and be better than you were the year before. I think those guys are doing the things necessary to warrant improvement. They're going to be a big part of what we do. We need them to be better than they were last year.
Do you like the demeanor that Zach Brown has been showing so far in spring camp?
Chryst: Yeah, and I don't think Zach is a different guy. I think he's always had that. I've always appreciated the way he goes out and works. He's done some good things, but he has. Here's a guy that has rushed for over 200 yards in a Big Ten game. That's not something you take lightly. He's got some talent and he's just got to keep getting better. He's been good getting back into it. Last year he didn't get as many reps in the fall, certainly with the top group because of the situation and him redshirting. I think it's a big spring for him.
Going to the wide receivers, I've been watching Kenzel Doe. It looks like he's got a similar role to what David Gilreath had. Is that kind of what you're hoping?
Chryst: Yeah, that's a long ways away, but I've been impressed. Kenzel, like with Joel, he's done a good job of coming in and giving himself a chance to participate and make plays. I think there is a ton to learn, but I love the way he does go about learning. You see a correction if you talk about it and then you see him do it on the field. You appreciate that as a coach.
I was talking to Nick Toon about a week ago or whenever it was. He was saying that he wasn't concerned about getting reps with some of these guys because he's worked with Jon and Joe before. Is there any concern from your point of view that when he comes back he's going to be behind the curve with a new quarterback, whoever it may be? I guess you've got the summer to work on that.
Chryst: That's right, and that's a big part of it. I don't have any doubt that Nick will work and the quarterbacks will work with him. He knows what's at stake and he knows he's got to play his best football his senior year. So I don't have any doubt in my mind that he'll go about it, be prepared and get ready to go this fall.
At the same time, do you like the leadership that Jared Abbrederis has kind of come out with this spring?
Chryst: Yeah, I love what Abby's done. He's energetic and shoot, he's in his second spring and he's the veteran of the group in many ways. So I love the way Abby goes about his work.