Video: Alvarez, Malzahn Preview Outback Bowl

In their final comments before Thursday's Outback Bowl, Wisconsin interim head coach Barry Alvarez and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn address the media.

No.19 Auburn (8-4, 4-4 SEC) vs. No.17 Wisconsin (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten)

Outback Bowl Press Conference Part One

Outback Bowl Press Conference Part Two

Outback Bowl Press Conference Part Three

WISCONSIN HEAD COACH Barry Alvarez

Opening statement:

"I've been very pleased with our preparation this week; it's been good. A bowl game is a reward for a good season. I like for them to experience the bowl and take advantage of everything that's offered them. I think they've done that and yet they've given us full attention to practice and we've practiced well in preparation. It's getting closer to game time and I think they're getting anxious to play. We have great respect for Auburn and the job that Coach Malzahn has done there. The athletes that I see on film are very impressive. But we're getting ready to play."

On building a winning program at Wisconsin:

"Having coached in the Big Ten at Iowa as an assistant and at Notre Dame, Wisconsin was always one of my recruiting areas. Having played there, been in Madison and knowing what type of city it was, and the world-class university, I always felt that there was no reason they couldn't win there. I felt like the first thing you had to do was keep the best players at home because most of them were leaving. If we ran the program right, we recruited well and kept the best ones there and reached out to bring in specific players from areas where we had contacts and relationships, that there was no reason why we couldn't compete at a high level there."

On the keys to stopping a dual-threat quarterback like Nick Marshall:

"He's very hard to get down and very athletic and very skilled. I think any time that you play someone with that type of ability you better be sound, you better corner the defense and try to have people chase him down and take the proper angles. You have to be sound and it's still very difficult to get him down."

On the status of running back Melvin Gordon:

"We met this morning and think he was okay today. He had a fever yesterday and sat out of practice. I anticipate that he practices today."

On the importance of bowl games:

"I think one of the things that's overlooked with bowl games is the experience that the players have. Everybody talks about the four in the semifinals and the championship game, but all these other bowls and you hear people say, `Who cares about them?' Well you know who cares about them? The players care about them. That experience is something you'll remember the rest of your life. Not only that, so the bowl games are important for the kids and the experience for them to have, but also it gives you extra practices to prepare for next year. You get some extra work with your young players who have been redshirted and guys who haven't played. Guys want to go. Coming out of high school, when you're recruiting, they want to go to bowl games."

On players wanting to impress newly-hired coach Paul Chryst:

"I think there's some of that. Paul is out there every day. He wants to get an idea of the personnel and familiarize himself with them. Two classes, our fourth and fifth year guys, know Paul; he recruited some of these guys. They know him already. The young guys, I think, certainly are aware he's around."

On coaching the Badgers in the Outback Bowl:

"It was important because the players asked me. That's what we're in this business for is for the players. I wasn't planning on it and my initial response is that I didn't want to do it. But I think I lend stability to those players. The fact that they came back a second time to ask, I couldn't tell them no. I'm around enough that the players see me and they know me and they have confidence in me. I think it's more of a stabilizing force more than anything else."

On defending against the hurry up offense:

"As a coach what you always look for is an edge. Coach (Malzahn) has been running this offense for a long time and he uses that as an edge. As a former defensive coach, somehow you have to stop them. You have to figure out how to implement your defense and how to adjust it, how to make the calls on the run and prepare for it. We've faced some other offenses like this, but it creates problems for you and it's hard to practice it. We try to simulate it as best we can, but it's very difficult to prepare for."

On Wisconsin's loss in the Big Ten Championship:

"I thought that was something that had to be addressed. Our last three games were against three rivals, very physical games. We basically had a playoff to win our division. They were very difficult games and our guys were beat up pretty bad. We missed a couple of guys in that game. I had to get it out of their system. I've been through that and you don't like to have a game like that, but the first thing you have to do is get it out of their system. I told them I thought it was an aberration, that we're a good football team. We won 10 games. You try to get their confidence back and start getting them focused on this game."

AUBURN HEAD COACH GUS MALZAHN

Opening statement:

"First of all I would just like to thank Jim McVay and his staff for the hospitality. It has been outstanding so far. Our team, I feel like we've had good preparation, good focus. Like coach (Alvarez) was saying, you try to let the guys enjoy it and about this time you start blocking in and our guys really flipped the switch probably yesterday as far as that goes. I'm very impressed with Wisconsin, offensively one of the better running teams in all of college football. Of course, Melvin Gordon is one of the better players in all of college football; just phenomenal. Defensively, they also have one of the better defenses. I think they're number one on third down and number three overall. They're just a complete team. A couple hours after I found out we were playing Wisconsin they decided to add a Hall of Fame coach to go with it. There's always a challenge with that, but we're looking forward to playing and we have a lot of respect for them."

On building a National Championship contender:

"Auburn has had a lot of great traditions before I got there. I was fortunate enough to be offensive coordinator in 2010 when we had Cam Newton and won the National Championship. It was a dream come true for me to come back as the head coach. Auburn has high expectations. Last year we came close and I think our program is in a really good position. That's our goal every year."

On the status of Duke Williams:

"Duke Williams will not play. He has been suspended for breaking team rules. He is planning on coming back next year so that's the reason he is here. I felt it was important that he was on the scout team. He's acting as Wisconsin's top receiver, so I felt like that was the right thing to do. I'm not getting into any specifics; he's just not going to play. We played without him a couple of games anyway, so we've got some veteran guys that we can move around. Ricardo Louis, C.J. (Uzomah), Melvin (Ray), they all three will have a role in taking his place."

On the value of bowl experience:

"I think any time you have experience in bowl games it can do nothing but help you. You know how the guys are going to react, what you're going to get out of them. In bowl games you get the tone of your team and how important the game is. I'll just tell you this is a very important game for our players. We're going to need to play well to have a chance of winning against these guys."

On Will Muschamp and his impact on defense and recruiting:

"Coach Muschamp is one of the best defensive minds in all of football, so future-wise recruiting, there's no doubt people will want to play for a guy like him that's had great success and the type of person he is. Just coming in new, he's just really been evaluating our players and trying to see what we have and getting a plan ready for next year. I will tell you our urgency from our players has been extremely high. They're trying to impress him. The future is very bright on the defensive side of the football at Auburn."

On the importance of bowl games:

"I'll second everything coach (Alvarez) said. The way players and coaches look at bowls, no matter what bowl it is, it's very important. The extra practice time, especially for your young guys, is very important."

On whether he's happy with quarterback Nick Marshall's development:

"There's no doubt. If you look at his whole career, last year he didn't even go through spring. He wasn't named the starting quarterback until two weeks before our first game. He led us to the National Championship and really answered the bell every time he was asked and learned the offense on the run. This year we really tried to be more balanced, and really worked on his passing. Obviously, our last game, with what he did against that defense, was very impressive. I'm very proud of him. He's been a very good leader for us. I think he's one of the difference makers in our league I feel like. I think offensively he's done a great job."

On the loss of Duke Williams:

"Obviously it's a blow, but we have played games without him. We have guys we that we feel very good about that are veteran guys that have make plays for us the last two years. We have a plan and we feel good about it."

On running back Cameron Artis-Payne:

"He's had an outstanding year for us. He's one of those tough guys that is very coachable. We're very proud to have him and he'll be ready to play."

On finishing the season with a win in the Outback Bowl:

"I think momentum-wise, obviously, if you win a bowl game you've got momentum the whole offseason. Of course you're always thinking recruiting and everything that goes with it, so I think it's very important."


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