Barry Alvarez Verbatim

Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez addressed the media Monday during the Badgers weekly press conference.

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Considering how well their quarterback did last week passing the ball, how much of a test is it going to be for the defense both past rush and pass coverage?

"It will be quite a test. Number one, it's very hard to get to the quarterback out of the shotgun and then a semi-roll. He doesn't sit in the pocket and just allow you to just tee off and blitz. You may come completely clean and the ball will be released before you get there. So that's one of the issues with the pass rush. The other one, any time you have a quarterback with his experience and the numbers that he has. He understands their offense and he knows where to go with the ball. They spread people out, they make you play in space, it's going to be quite a challenge. So we know we have our work cut out for us. And I think this past week playing against a spread out team, a no huddle team, we'll see another no huddle team from Akron, that it probably helps with preparation a little bit."

Anthony Davis is on a lot of Heisman watch lists, and granted it's early, but what kind of approach are you taking with that. Is it a wait and see approach?

"I'll leave that up to the sports information department. I know a couple of things. Number one, to have a chance at a Heisman you have to have tremendous statistics. It wouldn't surprise me if Anthony doesn't have those kind of statistics. The next thing is you better be on a good football team, and that's one that concerns me the most. So, if we have a very good football team and Anthony's numbers are following the way it is now, and the exposure everyone gets, I think all of us will know when it's time, if there is a time to really get involved in it."

With Lee Evans involved too as a possible candidate, can you talk about the uniqueness of that situation?

"I hope we have that problem. That would be a real good problem to have and we'll just hope they keep improving. I thought Lee got better as the game went on. I really felt that in the fourth quarter, he really kicked it in and competed very hard. And Anthony was super during the game."

Barry, as is the case when you view the video, you have a feeling after the game on how your players played and performed. After looking at the video and having broken it down, did you see things and you thought, wow we even played better than you had first thought?

"You know, when you start thinking about it, I just wonder how many games were played as an opening game this past weekend where there were no turnovers in the game. Both teams played pretty well. But there were no turnovers. I can guarantee you we had less mental errors in that game than we've ever had in a (season opener). So that was very gratifying. We made mistakes, sure. We saw some mistakes from the sidelines. Yet it was pretty much what we thought, plus there were actually some things better than what I had anticipated. I thought out guys did a good job, and I really liked the way they competed. So I think those two things more than anything else, no turnovers and very few mental errors, I think that's a pretty good starting point."

Barry, you played, I believe, six (actually five) defensive linemen last week and you're going to be down one with the Darius's situation. Are you going to have enough to go there, and are you even going to entertain the idea, you talked glowingly about Joe Thomas on defense at one point or is that too much to even ask of him to even suggest?

"Joe's too involved in the offense. We've got enough depth in the defensive linemen. I just saw three of them at lunch and they felt good in the game. I actually felt their conditioning was very good. And we'll go with who we have. So I feel we have enough depth there and you know, Joe Monty didn't get any snaps so, we played four in that game, I think. Excuse me, we played five. Joe didn't play, but Joe will play quite a bit this week, and he's ready to play."

What do you emphasize to your players on playing teams coming off a loss like Akron's last week?

"Well I try to emphasize us. We don't have to look back very far in this league, and I try to give them a history lesson in the teams from this league every time we play one. The MAC already has one notch on their belt this year and they do every year by upsetting someone. They play very good football in that league. And there's not a coach on our staff that doesn't understand it. I think the way Northern Illinois came in here last year and played us off our feet, our players should have enough respect for that league and the type of team that we're going to see. Then when you watch film and you see how well they throw it and catch it, you see a bunch of guys on defense that will hit you and hustle, you see this is a very dangerous team. This is a team that a year ago that with the same guys playing, and you put the film on and watch them play Virginia off their feet, Virginia was very fortunate to walk out of there with a win. I think hopefully our guys will be smart enough. You won't have anybody on this coaching staff that will overlook this group. We have a lot of respect for them."

Barry, when you looked at the tape, what did you see from Scott Starks and Brett Bell in terms of their position within your scheme, how they played the ball when it was thrown their way, and in particular about Bell, did he seem more aggressive at corner than he ever did at safety?

"He graded out very well. I thought he was very aggressive. Brett has always told me that corner was his natural position and I can't disagree with him. I thought he played well, as a matter of fact, he was the coaches' player of the game. I meet with the players at 3:30 and he'll be our defensive player of the game. That's how well he played. I thought Starks really broke on the ball well. There were a couple of times I thought we was going to compete with the ball and he was in a coverage that's really difficult to do, and be in contention with the ball when it's thrown as an out cut or a stop. He's responsible for the deep third. It's hard to be responsible for the deep third or deep fourth and still be breaking on the ball and contending for an eight-yard out cut. So I thought they were aggressive and I thought they played pretty well."

Barry, do the players like your new turf. And secondly will the fans notice it that much?

"Our players really do, and I would like you to ask them that. But I think I would know the answer. It's much more player friendly than what they're accustomed to. I think they feel as though it's a consistent surface. They understand the footing. We played one similar, although if you looked at West Virginia's field, it was a different turf, a different style than ours. You will see the black rubber come up in ours. Yet there's good footing. If we get some rain, I don't think it will get slick. The fans will notice the texture of the field when they walk in. That it's a softer texture, it's a different feel than the old Astroturf. They'll see some black come up when guys plant and make cuts. And if you're in a certain area for a while, the field will take kind of a black tint. We will go over it with a brush and settle that in afterwards. But, yeah I think the fans will definitely notice a difference."

Barry, what kind of flexibility does Owen Daniels give you? And what do you call him?

"We call him Owen. (laughing) O. D., sometimes. Let me tell you first of all one thing that I thought he did very well that you might not have noticed. He blocked very well in the game. It's going to be a lesson. I talked to the coaches this morning about it at our staff meeting to point out that it doesn't make a difference how big you are, if you use good fundamentals and you're lower than people and you have a good base you can block them, I don't care how big they are. And I thought he really competed and blocked well for the first time playing that position. He gives us tremendous flexibility. We'll use him as a stand-up tight end. Much like the old Iowa tight end that Hayden (Fry) brought into the league. Yet he can line up as a wide receiver and he has the speed to be a wide receiver and he gives you flexibility and versatility in your offense because of his speed. He has excellent ball skills. In fact he played quarterback before, he's also a threat to throw the football sometimes."

You mentioned Owen as stand-up tight end that Hayden liked to use. What's the rationale behind that?

"I was the first guy that coached that tight end at Iowa. And how it was started when Hayden was at North Texas, they're starting tight end was injured and they didn't have any others. So they moved a wide out there, and he was scared to death. So all he was doing was just playing closer to the ball, but he could still stand up like he did at wide receiver. And they would never ask him to go inside to block, all of his blocking would just be entertaining. Like Hayden would say, "Just dance with the guy in front of you." So he would dance with and occupy the guy in front of him or release outside. And that's what he did, and he ran routes. So the rationale is so he can see the secondary all the time. Read the coverage, and understand his breaks and the routes that he runs. And you really can, even as it went on at Iowa, those guys got bigger and they did use them to block down. And then because it was different, Hayden probably stayed with them longer than he wanted to, but that was his trademark. I just felt that it was just perfect for Owen and it made an easy transition for him."

On the difficulty of adding speed to the defense:

"Well they are the same guys as last year, so a lot of that credit has to go to (strength and conditioning coach) John Dettmann. We like to think that we can improve speed once a young man gets here, despite teaching him how to run. By working on explosion, getting him stronger, getting his core strength stronger, and going from there. You know, I heard someone mention someone in the media a couple of weeks ago, maybe it was this summer, about how we were beat by Georgia in the Bowl game. How we really recruit and recruit speed, and how it made a difference in our guys. The same guys played in that Georgia game that played in the two Rose Bowls. They just got stronger, they got faster through our program, and they got more mature and understood football a little better. But it was the same guys. The guys you're seeing play right now for the most part of the season."

How many receivers do they generally use at Akron? And what kind of hoops do they make you jump through on defense. Do they kind of dictate how much you use nickel and things like that?

"You know, they'll line up at two tight ends. They'll line up in what we call 21, two backs, one tight end. They'll line up in four wides probably more than anything else, three to one side, one to the other … two and two. You'll see a lot of trips to one side. You do see a lot of that. But they won't line up in any more formations than what we line up in. Actually the formations will be lined up in bunch, like we do. So the formations that we'll see from them are a number of formations you've seen from us and from what we've seen last week. So, there are only so many you can get in. So there really won't be anything new. They will be a no huddle team, which always presents a problem. We had a hard time with West Virginia, because with their new uniforms you had a hard time reading their numbers. You're trying to get groupings in there and see how many wide outs they have and how many tight ends and you really couldn't see the numbers. So that presented a problem."

Be it something mental or physical, what's the biggest difference you see in Alex Lewis this year, as opposed to last year?

"I think he's more comfortable with what we're doing, what his responsibility is and we've squeezed down and we've changed our defense so it's more reaction for him. We've limited what the linebackers have to do, yet there still are adjustments that have to be made. But I think just playing it for a year, he just understands it better."

Barry can you use that comeback for motivation down the season if you're in a tight Big Ten game down the road? Do you revisit that comeback you guys had on Saturday?

"I think more than having to revisit it, I think what it did was we got a lot of work out of that game. As a coach, you want to get things accomplished in a game and having to work four quarters and find out what your mettle is, will you compete? What type of character do you have? We saw all of that. I saw our guys out there and I saw the look in their eyes, I heard them on the sidelines and I watched them compete and get that momentum going, get that pendulum back in their direction and watch them find a way to win that game. In all three phases. In the kicking game as well as offense and defense. You had all three phases that had to kick in to win that game. We tried go back to the Bowl game, and the Minnesota game, but primarily the Bowl game, to talk about coming from behind, making plays, how hard you had to compete to win, I think we saw that Saturday. With that, going in, I can confirm it now that it's a hard place to play and they're a good football team. They're coached very well and that's secondary, as I told the coaches, those guys all played last year and they line up against the Miami's and the Virginia Techs of the world. They've played against speed. They played against veteran players. So we're going to have to beat them. We're going to have to play very hard and that's what we saw. So I think it's more that the guys understand now what it takes rather than us having to bring it back."

From your stand point, how important was it or was it important that Scott Campbell hit his last field goal?

"I think that it probably helped (more than) going 0-for. But I certainly think that win, I think it has to help with his confidence and just settling down a little bit. Hopefully he can gain some consistency because he's a good kicker, and he's done some good things. He had first game jitters I guess, but he's shown that he can kick much better and I expect him to get better."

When you put together your non-conference schedule can you talk about the factors that you have to consider? Are there financial situations you have to consider? Do you want to see different styles of play? How many things go into that?

"That's a good question. Number one, you have to find someone that's available and there's a service now that the American Football Coaches (Association) sends out, a sheet of teams that have games available down for the next 8-10 years. So if you find someone with an open date, I always try to find somebody that would like to play here, for a reasonable fee. If I can't find someone that would just play here, then go two to one. Two here, one there. If you can't get that, then if you go to a home and home then I like to find someone in an area where we recruit. Where when we go back, people will get some publicity, yet the parents of our players can have an easy drive to get there. So we've played on the west coast. We've played on the east coast. We've really had a lot of parents who were able to drive to the game this past Saturday. That's really nice after the game, for them to be able to sit around after the game and be able to talk to our players. It's been a nice time with family and friends. So that's kind of my feeling on it … and then find somebody that wants to play you. They used to be calling us, sometimes these guys don't want to play us. Oregon State is trying to get out of the contract we have with them right now. For West Virginia, I met (Ed) Pastilong the (athletics director) back when Pat (Richter) was being inducted into the hall of fame and we just started talking and found out we were both from the same area, the same nationality and the whole thing and one thing led to another and you have a home and home."

Is Oregon State still trying to get out? And what are the odds that the game is still going to come up?

"I would say since they don't want to play us, we probably won't play. I don't know the penalty clause. I just know that they're trying to get out of the game. We told them that they need to help us try and find somebody to fill that slot. We're not going to just drop the game, we need to try and find someone to fill in there first. And I don't know the reason."

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