Wisconsin postgame: Alvarez Verbatim

Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez addressed the media following Saturday's 38-20 win in the Big Ten opener with Illinois

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Opening statement:


"Well obviously very pleased with the win. It is always good to get a Big Ten win on the road. They are not easy to come by. I was really proud of my team. I thought they really were resilient during the ball game. We started out very sharp. Our emphasis was to start fast, I thought we did. Yet, this is a funny game. Illinois has an excellent offense—there were a lot of momentum swings in the game. I'm just proud of my guys—how they were able to answer down the stretch. Really had a lot of good play. I thought our offensive line—I told them when Jim initially went down that we were going to have to ride them. Those guys were going to have carry us. They did an excellent job of block and I thought our backs ran well.


"All and all it was a good win. I thought Illinois competed very hard. I think their quarterback is excellent and they present a lot of problems with their offense. I'm really pleased with my guys."


Barry, how happy are you with your offensive line?


"They took the game. I told them at the half, ‘We are going to ride you.' And that is exactly what we did. I think those guys really have a little personality. They have a lot pride in what they do and they are getting better. They know they can continue to get better. Really pleased with their performance."


Was Sorgi's performance a throwback to the days of Mike Samuel?


"He kind of reminded me of Mike. I wondered why—he is so thin I don't think they even knew he was in the end zone that one time. It was such a long time before they signaled touchdown.


"I was really pleased with Jim, he took a pretty good shot and bruised his sternum. He had a hard time throwing, just getting the ball up but bounced back and answered and did what he had to do."


Barry, could you talk about your secondary?


"They beat us on long throws last year. I thought, ‘Coupe' we call him, Levonne Rowan, really played particularly well. I saw a couple double moves they had to try to set him up. They took about four or five shots at him. He was in excellent shape. For the most part their throws and catches were short throws—they make you tackle them in the open field and their guys are shifty. Halsey is a very nifty runner and presents a lot of problems in the open field."


Can you talk about your first three drives. Did those kind of set the tone for you?



"I thought we were excellent those first three drives. It couldn't have been any better. We stuck it in there pretty good with the run. When we threw it, Jim was very crisp in throwing. Obviously we had all the momentum. But you know that momentum swings and it goes the other way—you know you would like to keep it going. You have to give Illinois a lot of credit. They had a tough week last week and to get down 21 points and battle back like they did. Give them some credit. But I was very pleased with how we started the game."


How important was it to keep Beutjer off the field in the second half?


"Well, you see how dangerous he is and how dangerous their offense is. The best place for him to be is on the bench for us."


Is the play of Dwayne Smith and Booker Stanley a testament to the depth at tailback?


I said that last week. One of the stories that we kind of took for granted was our third tailback comes in—our first two were out—and our third tailback comes in and rushes for 119 yards and wins a game for us a week ago. For those two guys to go in there, on the road in the Big Ten—first time for ‘Book' to play against a Big Ten school and to answer the bell and play like they did is a compliment to them.


"I would like to get 28 back in there—I kind of miss him."


How close is Davis to playing?


"He is pretty close."


Was there a chance that he would play today?


"No. Our decision was made beforehand. He can run, he can cut, he can jump up and down on it. He didn't have enough reps and we didn't think it wouldn't have been fair to play him today."


Did you like the way Jim avoided mistakes today? Is that what you need out of him?


"Jim just executed our offense and that is what he did. He got the ball out and throws we had were to the right guy, the right read. I thought the checkdown to Bernie was really excellent late in the game. Just controlling and managing the offense and that is what he did."


What changes did you make in kickoff coverage?


"I'll tell you what we tried to do," Alvarez said. "We tried to get more coaches involved in coaching it. We had about five different coaches really coaching some guys. We are going to have to really take a look, really shuffle a lot of people. Obviously we have an issue with a couple spots in there. We are going to have to re-look that. My answer was, ‘let's coach them harder. Let's get more guys involved in coaching, almost get a one-on-one situation. We didn't answer it so that is something we are going to have to get better at."


After both of those special team's plays, though, the defense held up—


"That is huge. That was really huge. For them to have that kind of field position and then our defense to go in and answer the bell and allow them to kick a field goal. That is huge. That is a lot of points taken off their. I tip my hat off. That was excellent defensive play."


What is the difference between this year and some of the defeats you faced the past two years against Illinois?


"I think we are a better team this year than we were the last two years. I just think we are a better football team. I think we have more weapons now. Maybe they are not as good, I don't know.


"This is a different year. Last two years don't have anything to do with this game. I just like the way our guys played.


"I liked the way they fight. I really like they way they battle and get after it. They really compete.


"We emphasized playing a four quarter game and I thought we were strong in the fourth quarter."


Starks play:


"You know what, he was throwing up at the half. I don't whether he had the flu—he said he was a little dizzy and his stomach was upset—that sounded like flu to me. He played well. I thought he was contesting. We pressed them a lot. We were up there playing press man on them and jamming them. I thought he did an nice job.


Joe Stellmacher's injury:


"I hate to—it is not good. Joe—that may be a fracture."

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