Wisconsin Coach Says Healthy Badgers Respect AU

Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez talks about Wednesday's game and the matchup against the Auburn Tigers.

Nashville, Tenn.--One of the most successful coaches in bowl history leads the Wisconsin Badgers against the Auburn Tigers in the 2003 Music City Bowl Wednesday as Barry Alvarez looks for his eighth victory in nine tries in postseason games.

The Badgers (7-5) and Tigers (7-5) are both hoping to end the season on a high note, but the veteran coach said that no matter the distractions that both teams have gone through this season it all comes down to playing the game and that is enough to get everyone excited.

"This is a football game," Alvarez said. "Coaches are competitors, players are competitors. I don't think there is any more emotion in it. I think you have two excellent leagues. It's about pride in your league and your teams when you play these inter-conference games. You really don't have to dig up much more.

"You want to play and play well and you have a quality opponent to play against. It sounds like we're going to have a nice crowd and it's a tremendous stadium and venue. If you can't get cranked up to play in a game like that something is wrong with you."

Wisconsin brings in a healthy team for the first time since early in the 2003 season as running back Anthony Davis and quarterback Jim Sorgi are both over nagging injuries that kept them out of games this season. Alvarez said that the health of his team has him excited to see how his team will play when they take the field for Wednesday's 11:07 a.m. kickoff at the Coliseum.

"They are all healthy," Alvarez said. "Naturally, when you practice and prepare for a game you like to have your best guys on the field. It's always good to have them back. Anthony hasn't been healthy since the second ball game, 100 percent healthy. He's played a little bit, but he hasn't been 100 percent. I think this will be the closest he's been to 100 percent since we started camp.

"It's good to have him back and Sorgi, after he was injured, came back and was really playing his best football in the last couple of games when he was knocked out of the Iowa game. It's good to have him back. I think they are excited about the opportunity to play a quality opponent."

For the Badgers the goal of a stingy defense is going to be to try to stop Auburn tailback Carnell Williams. Trying to end the season as the SEC's leading rusher, the junior has all the intangibles to get the job done against Wisconsin and Alvarez said that it's going to take a good effort for his defense to contain the explosive back.

"I think he brings the total package," Alvarez said of Williams. "One thing that I was impressed with in the first film I looked at was, you can always see backs run the ball, but as a coach you watch the little things and you see him block well. You see him go after a second block. He's very strong. He's elusive and he makes yards after contact. The great ones do that. He's the whole package and he's a football player. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played."

With little more than pride on the line Wednesday when the two teams face off sometimes things are needed to get each team ready to play and give them incentive to get the job done. While there are underlying stories with each team that could be used as motivation, Alvarez said that the game itself takes precedence over everything else and is the main motivation anytime the ball is kicked off. Just playing another game with the chance at conference pride is enough on Wednesday.

"There is an awareness out there," Alvarez said. "We read about the SEC, but we don't have a chance to play against them and vice-versa. It's just an opportunity to compete against somebody you see on TV and read about. It's a program with tremendous tradition. I think all those things are really healthy in college football. There is plenty to motivate you to want to play and compete. These kids are all very strong competitors when you are playing good against good. That's always fun and you better bring your ‘A' game."


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