Barry Alvarez Speaks to the Media

Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez spoke to the media in his weekly press conference on Monday. He discussed the status of his team, and their preparation for Michigan.

Will Brooks Bollinger practice today?

We'll know for sure tomorrow. He's going to practice today. Today's a light practice, installation and game plan, but take his final test tomorrow.

What about Anthony Davis?

As far as I know A.D.'s been cleared. Probably physically, he could've played last week.

Will those two give the team a boost?

Well, it's always nice to have your starters.

Have you chosen to hold them out for other reasons?

I'm not going to get into that, guys, I just prefer not to.

On Bollinger feeling the cumulative effect of the head injuries:

I think, they're always concerned with that in any head injury. You know, our medical staff certainly would not even consider putting him back on the field unless they felt very comfortable where he was.

On not preferring that safeties lead the team in tackles:

I would not assume that. If you take a look around the league, the way the defenses are designed anymore, that's who makes the tackles. I think I haven't looked at a tackle around the league or anything, but that's how defenses are made up. If you look at our free safety, he's lined up in there with the linebackers. Your assumption is not right.

On that only happening once before in Alvarez's career:

Who's the other safety, I don't even remember? Reggie Holt. I like when the line backers do (lead the team in tackles). I'd like to have a nose guard lead it.

On where the team needs more of a boost right now, pass defense, etc.,:

They need to make a play on the ball. You know, last week's a good example. We had inside/outside coverage. With two people on wide receiver, you've got to make a play on the ball. You got to get the ball out. You've got to get your hands on the ball, strip the receiver, somehow you got to get the ball out and make a play on it.

On Michigan's skill players:

You know, I look at John Navarre. I think he's improved this year. He looks to be able to move around a little bit better. When he has time to throw, it appears as though he's much more accurate, than I remember him. The one thing that I do see with their receivers, as a group, they're much faster, I mean every one of them has speed. Not like some of the teams we've played, you might see one burner and solid guys, but all of them can really fly and they're tight end is really excellent. He's turned into a go-to guy for them, a guy that they'll look to to get open and try to get the ball to. They use him a lot like Iowa uses their guy.

With Jim Leonhard's eight interceptions, how much of that is preparation and how much of that is athletic ability?

I think it's a combination, Tom. A lot of -- he's been in -- I think all of us. Ron Cooper mentioned yesterday when he was in the sky position, he's in flat cover and reacting to routes, but, you still have to have the instinct to play ball in the air and then be a good enough athlete to make a catch. So he's made some outstanding moves. On a tipped ball like the one he had the big return on the other day, that's just athletic ability. You know, the ball's in the air. You're playing the defender, the ball's tipped, just being quick enough and being able to react, and get your hands on it and catch it and get it going the other way.

Is this year's Michigan team a typical Michigan team?

I think it's very similar. Defensively, they're strong and give you a lot of different looks. Very athletic, physical, one of the more physical secondaries that you'll see. On offense, game to game, they'll do different things. In the Iowa game, they abandoned the run. They conceded. They weren't going to run the ball, they just threw the ball. Some other games they've really come out. I think the other day in Minnesota, they wanted to run the football and they just kept pounding the ball. So they're capable of doing both. A lot depends, I'm sure with the match up they have, but I think it's a very typical Michigan team.

On Michigan have a preference – passing or running game:

Yeah, I think it all depends on the match-up. I don't think it makes any difference. They're going to try to move the ball.

Are you going to spend extra time this week protecting R.J. Morse (punter):

Yeah, we've changed our scheme. Just by changing our scheme, the block they used, that they had success with a year ago put all the pressure on the long snap. We've taken the pressure off him by changing our scheme. We spend a lot time on that week to week. We don't have any more time we can spend on it. We've spent plenty.

Do you see some slippage in your team:

That's hard to say, Tom, a loss is a loss. If you lose by three or if you lose by ten, I'm more concerned with how you play. We didn't play very well, that's what concerns me. Last week, defensively against Iowa, we played well, but that's more of a concern to me.

Why hasn't Wisconsin played well?

Well, I, I would say last week, there's a reason why there's a number one and a number two. I'm not putting blame on anybody, but that would give you a place to start. When your starters, a couple of starters aren't in there, the guys that touch the ball the most, that may have a little something to do with it. I'm sure as not going to use distractions, I would not use that as an excuse, may have been -- I don't know, all we can do is try to reload and try to correct things and refocus and play better.

On the team being a young team:

We've got a lot of freshmen. It is a young squad. What did we lose? Two guys defensively and on offense, although it is a veteran offensive line, those guys have all played, other than Donovan Raiola, who's played considerably in the last two games, you know our skilled guys are young.

Is that part of it?

Yeah, you would like them to come in there. You would like to have some more veterans in those positions, even like Anthony (Davis). Anthony's a sophomore. We think he's a wily veteran. He's a sophomore, backed up by a freshman. I think that's a good combination. He's played. He knows what the league is about. We like to have a little more maturity, and I think the teams that you see, the better teams, are the ones that are mature teams.

On the longer season possibly taking a toll:

You know, I think we've stayed relatively fresh. I wouldn't use the length of a season. I haven't seen any tolls because of that. I don't think so. I think we've had a good plan and I think we've stayed fresh. I wish we would, now if I look back, if I had my druthers, I would rather go without having that open date. You know we had a nice rhythm and it would've been nice just to continue to play.

On R.J. Morse struggling with his punting, either with technique or mentally:

I know he hasn't hit the ball. He didn't hit it cleanly. Where he's struggling? Probably both.

Do you think last year's team could've taken Michigan?

I think they know that game came down to making plays at the end. I just went back to watch that game again from last year's film. The guys really played well. Three plays in the kicking game, but that's part of the game. The year before, (Drew) Henson throws the ball across his body, probably an ill-advised throw. It should be picked off and scores the winning touchdown. But they made the plays. Lee slips and touches the out of bounds on one and he's going to run it for a touchdown. Michael Bennett has nothing but green in front of him, slips and falls. We didn't make the plays. So I think our guys felt that they were good football games. Either team could have won. You know, they're smart enough to understand that they didn't make the plays and Michigan did.

On that sticking with you:

I'm worried about this game. I'm not worried about those games or last year's games or the year before. Those are over. I'm worried about this week.

On needing longer cleats for Michigan's field:

It will be interesting to see what that field's like.

Does the field look any better?

I know that there was a lot of complaining early on. I thought there was an apology sent. The Penn State game was really bad. I haven't heard anything since. In watching the Iowa game, it looked a little soft, but you really can't tell. The Michigan State game didn't look bad.

Is a Bowl or a Bowl bid important?

Yeah, I think it's important. I think it's important. Bowls are always rewards. It helps it gives the seniors something to remember. It's a great experience for your young players. Again, I always like to use it to get extra practices. So I think it's very important.

On Bob Docherty's ankle:

Doc's still not a hundred percent. He's just slowed by that.

On Jeff Mack:

It's a nerve thing, you just don't know. You just don't know. It's a week-to-week thing. They come back very slowly. I don't know.

How do you get the young guys mentally ready for this game?

Well, what you try to do is go over the last game. Go over my general impressions, the good, the bad, what we need to look forward to this week, and then we put the game to rest. Correct off the game film, then we start on Michigan. But we start by putting last week away. The good and the bad.

Is that any different than any other game this year?

We've got a routine that we stick by.

Were you disappointed in the effort last game?

No, I wasn't disappointed in the effort that we had at all. Our guys never quit. Our guys fought. We didn't execute. We didn't throw and catch it very well. I think we only had five runs in the second half. We ran the football, but we just never got into a routine. Never could get into a rhythm where we could do what we wanted to do. I think we averaged five and a half yards a carry. Had 20-some runs in the first half and in the second half, we only had five carries. We were out of kilter and the field position was a little different. Defensively, an outside linebacker busted on the fullback slipping out in the flat. But for the most part, we were on who we were supposed to be on. Guys didn't make plays on the ball, but effort was never a question.

Do you think that some of the older players are losing their enthusiasm?

No, I don't see that. I don't see that at all, Tom.

On creating five turnovers when still down 24-20 at one point against Illinois:

Yeah, that's hard to put a finger on. Obviously, we didn't take advantage of the turnovers or the field positions that we got. That means offensively we're not doing what we have to do and we gave up some big plays on defense. Yes, that is a surprise. You're plus-five in the turn-over ratio and you're behind.

Is there something you can do about that?

Take advantage of them.

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