Reaching across enemy lines: Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Every week, The Daily Illini football staff will chat with a sports editor or football beat reporter from an opposing school’s paper. Up this week is sports editor of The Badger Herald, Chris Bumbaca.

The Daily Illini: How has Paul Chryst’s first season at Wisconsin gone and how has he been received by the players and fan base?

Chris Bumbaca: It’s been underwhelming to say the least. The Paul Chryst running attack Wisconsin fans became accustomed to during his tenure as offensive coordinator is nonexistent. And the passing game just isn’t quite there either.

DI: How different is this Wisconsin team from teams of the past?

CB: Well, there’s some guy named Melvin Gordon. The big, bad Wisconsin offense that tossed teams around and ran the ball right down your throat isn’t the identity of this team right now.

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DI: Was there shock when Gary Andersen left the team?

CB: Absolutely. On Nov. 15, Andersen said “Thank God I’m here.” Less than a month later, he was out. It was pretty unbelievable at the time. It makes sense now though, the guy just wasn’t cut out to coach at a place like Wisconsin. But hindsight is 20/20.

DI: Is there fear among fans that Wisconsin is in the middle of the Big Ten West rather than at the top?

CB: The standings sure show it. Coming into the year, the Badgers should’ve had a chance to win the West. Their defense is definitely good enough, but the offense squandered it against Iowa and probably will again some other point this season.

DI: What type go quarterback is Joel Stave?

CB: There’s two Joel Staves. Confident Joel Stave goes through his progressions, sets his feet and uses his arm. Scared Joel Stave panics, stares down receivers and throws off his back foot. It’s always an adventure to see which one shows up.

DI: What should Illinois’ defense expect if running back Corey Clement returns Saturday?

CB: Definitely not a 100 percent Corey Clement. He still can’t get up to full speed he said Tuesday. I think he could use another week off.

DI: How do Wisconsin fans view this game? Is it a rivalry game? Is this a must-win game?

CB: Heck no. It’s been a while since the Badgers lost to the Illini, and it hasn’t been particularly close in recent memory. As far as a must-win, if Wisconsin want to have any chance of keeping its season alive every game is must-win, regardless of opponent.

Follow Chris on Twitter @bacafl0ckaflame