Postgame Press Conference: Evans and Alvarez

Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez and receiver Lee Evans spoke with the media following the Badgers 56-21 win over Michigan State

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Alvarez opening statement

 

 "I am very pleased with how our players responded today. I talked to them about having character and coming out and playing with a passion. I knew they had character, I knew they'd compete. We had to play a good football game; we were playing a good football team. We've had some tough losses, but I was really proud of how they responded, how they executed on both sides of the ball. Our offense was extremely sharp. I don't think (Jim) Sorgi threw a bad ball all day. It was vintage Lee Evans—he put on a show. Defensively, we gave them some different looks. We did some things we hadn't done before. I thought our defensive staff did a tremendous job in scheming. We had some new people playing different positions. I thought they played extremely well against a very good quarterback and a very good passing attack. All in all it was a tremendous effort and I am very pleased with the win."

 

On the first drive setting the tempo for the rest of the game:

 

Alvarez: "Well, it certainly helped. You know, we had a rhythm in the first drive and we kept on offense. I really liked the way our guys threw and caught it very well and that helped our running game later on."

 

On going to Lee Evans early and often:

 

Alvarez: "Well we liked the match up with Lee and their corners. And when we get specific things, a lot of people we've played have comboed him but Jim's going to take a look at Lee in a lot of our routes and then go from there. It's not just Lee—now on the out cuts it is unless they take it away. But we did like our matchups."

 

On the catalyst for the defensive changes:

 

Alvarez: "The catalyst behind the changes…We didn't feel as though we would get any more pressure with four than we would with three. We came up with a scheme with three down linemen and three linebackers where we could rush four, we could rush five, we could blitz out of it. We felt we could get pressure with three with Alex (Lewis) keeping our guys fresh and Jonathan (Welsh) back, get pressure with three and get eight guys in the secondary where we could press up on their spread formations and still have combinations and double some guys. We could give them a lot of different pictures and I don't know whether they had seen some of that stuff before. We felt that was something that would help us and fit our personnel."

 

On the chemistry between Evans and Sorgi:

 

Evans: "Going into the game we knew what they were going to come out and do. All week we stressed, ‘beat man-to-man.' Man-to-man: that is what they did. So, you know, it's a matchup game. It's you against him. If you beat your man you are going to have a lot of success. Fortunately I was able to do that today."

 

Were you surprised by five touchdowns, 258 receiving yards?

 

Evans: "Yeah (smiling). It was definitely special. I had a lot of fun out there. It is the best game I've played here and it's a big win for our team, it's a big win for the program and I'm just glad we could get a win and celebrate it with my teammates."

 

Coming back from knee surgery did you ever imagine anything like this?

 

Evans: "Well I certainly hoped so. In the whole process coming back I just told myself that I have to be able to go out there and play the way I know how to play. I made a lot of plays this year, but finally in one game I was able to put up some big numbers. Put up some big numbers like back in the Akron game. Right now in a crucial time in the season and for the team I was able to do it again."

 

Can you expound on why it's a big game for this team?

 

Evans: "It is a big game because we have lost a few tough ballgames and, you know, last week we put up a lot of points on offense and we were just starting to get into a rhythm but we came up short. So it was big this week to come back, keep the momentum we had, keep going, keep pushing and the implications it has for after the season and also for our confidence just to get a win under our belts going into the last game.

 

On being cognizant of records:

 

Evans: "Coaches said somebody came down on the field and said I needed four yards. Sometimes in the past that hasn't happened."

 

Alvarez: "Somebody has been negligent to let us know when someone is very short of records in the past and they did get word down to the field that he needed four yards for that record and we wanted to make sure we got it for him."

 

Barry, is this the type of dominating performance that people expected throughout the season?

 

Alvarez: "Who expected these types of performances all season? Who were those people? I don't know how to answer that. We played well today and we beat a good team and did it with some guys being hurt in the course of the game. Booker going down, losing a couple more defensive backs and other guys stepping up. We just played a good football game today. All that other stuff doesn't mean anything."

 

On Evans' big games versus Michigan's State:

 

Evans: "I actually thought about it going into the game and somebody actually brought it up, they said, ‘you always have big games against Michigan State.' And thinking about it and thinking back on it I think it just comes down to the scheme they have. They play man-to-man and if I can beat man-to-man then I'll be successful. Every time I've played (them) I've been able to do it."

 

On implementing the new defense:

 

Alvarez: "It was really pretty easy for the front six to learn. I thought our coaches did an excellent job of teaching and we had done a lot of the combination stuff in the back. It really wasn't that hard to teach, it is just matching up with all of their different formations and having the time to do that and letting the guys see everything. The guys did an excellent job. But we've done stuff like that before but I don't know if any of it has worked that good."

 

On passing game:

 

Alvarez: "Well, we've thrown and caught it better than we have probably any time that I've been here and the trigger man has to do that. He has been very crisp. His timing is good. He stays in the pocket. He is throwing some excellent—I don't think he threw a bad ball today. I mean he put the ball where it had a chance to be caught. I thought the one he threw up there to Darrin (Charles) was really just a nice soft throw and gave him a chance to use his height and make a catch. The one that Lee scored where he caught it over those guys he put it in a position where Lee could go up and get a jump ball—I like my chances with Lee in a jump ball—strong hands."

 

On Sorgi's play since coming back from injury:

 

Alvarez: "Well, you know, obviously, I don't know about his attitude, maybe he sees things a little differently, he's coming down the stretch run of his senior year. And probably he's healthy. He sat out for two or three weeks. His body's in good shape. Probably a combination of all of those things. He's playing so relaxed. You all know he is a natural thrower and has a good zip on the ball.

 

"Jim has taken some shots. Last week he got knocked down quite a few times and he took a vicious hit as he released one today. He's stepping up in the pocket and he's not the burliest of guys. When he gets hit he feels it. But he's standing in there, he's taking his shot to throw the ball. I think that sends a strong message to his teammates about his commitment to this team and how important it is and that in itself is strong leadership."

 

On Dwayne Smith:

 

Alvarez: "I thought Dwayne played pretty well particularly later in the game. When you rush the passer as many times as they did today I think you can tire a (defensive) line a little bit and we took advantage of that. But he had some good runs. I thought he had good vision down the field. We challenged him to make some safeties miss and hit some home runs in the running game. That is one of the things we wanted to accomplish today."

 

On setting records:

 

Evans: "It is definitely an honor especially with some of the people that have held these records in the past. It is definitely an honor to be up there among the elite in school history and, you know, even after I leave here to still have your name around, just that aura, that feeling that you have done something. It is definitely special and the group of guys that I'm with it is a tremendous feeling to be able to share it with them as well."

 

On Evans' performance in comparison to other great individual performances:

 

Alvarez: "It is right there with any of Dayne's big time rushing performances and I think, Sorgi, how many yards did he throw for today? (380) That is pretty good too but Lee has just been a wonderful player for us and leader and someone that's been an inspiration for our entire football team and I couldn't proud of anyone and how he performed today or more pleased for anyone for the hard work and what he's gone through to have a day like that. You don't see that very often by receivers. I'm just so pleased that he's been able to experience it."

 

On playing without Anthony Davis:

 

Evans: "It's big. Any time you take a player like A.D. out of the offense, who has been the most consistent player on this team for the last three years or so. You know you definitely have to share that level of productivity. I knew on my side that I was going to come out having to make a lot more plays. And even though we lost some tough ball games I think the other backs have stepped up and played pretty well and finally we were get into a rhythm today and put a lot of points on the board. You know you have to share it but the running back position, they have done a great job with it."

 

On playing Alex Lewis at defensive end:

 

Alvarez: "Well it has to be the right team to use him, when you can use him. Last week Michigan State was in empty backs 55 snaps if I'm not mistaken. I think they only ran 15 times. So we anticipated that they would come out and that if they had, say, 75 snaps that they'd probably throw between 50 and 60 times and that we could be in that defensive set, our silver defense, quite a bit of the day. We just wanted that speed coming off the corners so that we could get some kind of pressure with a three-man rush.

 

"So it depends on schemes. Next week Iowa is going to be in two tight ends and a pro set and we won't be able to use him. Maybe in the nickel situation. It is because of our matchups with them and what they did offensively that allows us to do it more."

 

On MSU's coverage:

 

Evans: "When I was in the slot they doubled me pretty much. Out on the outside it was man-to-man. They tried to take away the backside by rolling the backside safety and you know trying to take away the post that way but it was straight man-to-man but they didn't really do too much to me until I was in the flat."

 

Evans on what memories he will take away from today:

 

Evans: "Just the entire performance. This was probably one of the funnest games I've played in. The coaches, they stressed all week—play the game hard, but have fun. Have fun and I think a lot of times when we go out and play we don't have fun all the time but I think this week we went out and we really turned it loose and everybody out there had a lot of fun. And when you are in a zone you are in a zone and I was able to make a lot of plays and put some points on the board."


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