MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Mild-mannered Paul Chryst doesn’t seem like someone who likes to bask in attention.
Like it or not, Saturday will be a day to remember for him back in his hometown.
Wisconsin (0-1) plays its first home game with Chryst as head coach when Miami (Ohio) visits Camp Randall Stadium.
Chryst has walked down the stadium tunnel dozens of times as an assistant coach in earlier stints at Wisconsin. Heck, Chryst has snuck into Camp Randall while growing up a few blocks away in Madison.
But this time, he’s the head coach, and that’s got to make this weekend special, right?
“Every day I walk on to this field for practice, and when I’m around this group, I feel appreciative of it. I don’t know,” he said.
This is typical “aw, shucks” Paul Chryst. By all accounts, this is not an act.
“I’ve been lucky to be at games here,” he said this week. “And so that part is … I don’t think going to be any different, because I’ve always appreciated what I’ve been, the opportunities that I’ve had here.”
Chryst has more pressing concerns than worrying about getting misty at Camp Randall. The Badgers are hoping to rebound from a season-opening, 35-17 loss last week to Alabama that knocked them out of the Top 25.
Miami coach Chuck Martin is well aware of the challenge that awaits the RedHawks (1-0).
“Paul Chryst, his first home game where he played and he coached, has had tons of success and (they) pride themselves on smashing people in the mouth,” Martin said. “No better time than when a MAC school comes into town after you’ve played Alabama to get back to running the ball.”
Some notes and things to watch ahead of the first meeting between the schools:
CLEMENT TIME?: Speaking of running the ball, Chryst said he won’t know until game time if top tailback Corey Clement will be available. The junior has been slowed by a sore groin that limited him in practice and held him 16 yards on eight carries against the Crimson Tide.
Clement is the heir apparent to Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon. He indicated this week that he planned to play against Miami, though Chryst said on Thursday that Clement’s availability will be determined after warm-ups.
CAPTAIN CAPUTO: Wisconsin hopes to get a key member of its defense back, too on Saturday. Chryst said safety and team captain Michael Caputo was cleared to play against Miami after going through a concussion protocol this week. Caputo got hurt on the third play of the game against Alabama. He is an emotional leader and play-caller in the Badgers’ secondary.
MIAMI NICE: The RedHawks, who were in 2-10 last year, beat FCS school Presbyterian 26-7 in its season opener last week. The game was interrupted in the third quarter due to lightning.
The forecast calls for considerably better weather in Madison on Saturday, with mostly sunny skies and a high temperature in the mid-60s. Unfortunately for Miami, there’s a much stronger opponent on tap in a hostile environment.
REDHAWKS ROLL: Miami pulled away against Presbyterian with 13 fourth-quarter points. The offense amassed 466 yards playing an up-tempo attack that Martin said appeared to tire Presbyterian’s defense. A Big Ten team should have more than enough skill players to keep up this weekend.
“You have to play your very best football, probably play even a little bit above your head,” Martin said about what his team needs to do.
LINING UP: The three new starters on Wisconsin’s offensive line figure to have an easier time opening up holes and protecting quarterback Joel Stave after having to put up with Alabama last week. The Miami game is the first of three straight winnable nonconference home games for Wisconsin that should give the line confidence ahead of the Big Ten opener on Oct. 3 against Iowa.
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