Monday Press Conference: Barry Alvarez

Alvarez talks about Anthony Davis, preparations for UNLV Saturday and instant replay

Is there any update on Anthony Davis?

"I just saw Anthony. No specialists were available to look at him today. He is improving, but I won't know anything further until he has a specialist look at him."

As valuable as he is to this team, would you ever tell a running back to avoid contact?

"This is a collision sport and unfortunately, that's what you do in this sport. I would have like to have seen the whistle blow when he first stepped out of bounds. It probably would have saved a lot … when he stepped out of bounds, you blow the whistle, and play ends. But it appeared as though on the film when you really break it down, it wasn't the collision. It was more the collision and the helmet sliding a little bit, when he hit the turf … the helmet hit on the turf."

Have you ever had a problem with other players with those pellets?

"It wasn't so much the pellets that, we've had, you know in practice, guys would get them in their mouth or get them in their eye occasionally, but that wasn't the issue. We thought it was at one point, but that wasn't the main issue."

Was it a head-injury type issue?

"No, it's his eye. It's an eye issue and when he looks down, he still has some, not as much, but a little burred vision when he looks down. So we'll just wait and see what happens when we talk to a specialist. He is improving, which is good."

Barry, from what you saw, in particular, what would you like to see an improvement on?

"Well, I think in all phases. On offense, you want to take advantage of scoring opportunities. You don't want to let many of those get away. A couple times, just before the half, all three phases did their part. The defense was three-and-out with a minute-plus to go in the half. They forced a kick. The punt-return team does an excellent job. We had a number of guys straining. Jimmy (Leonhard) does a tremendous job in running the ball back to get us in position. The offense moves the ball. We get it down on the one-yard line and we jump. We end up with three instead of seven points there. We had to send our quarterback another time. After a sudden change in excellent field position, and miss a field goal, it was a high snap, the timing was off a little bit and then it was tipped a little. Defensively, I thought our guys played very well, but yet, there was some third and long situations where they converted them and were able to stay on the field. And we'd like to correct that."

Did you get a chance to see much of the UNLV game last night?

"I did see it."

What did you think of them?

"It's the type of team that I anticipated. It's a veteran team. Those guys all played before. It's the type of team that I think you would expect when you see a John Robinson-coached team. It's a physical group. When you have mature guys like that, as you listen to him, you hear how many guys he feels as though will be NFL players on both sides of the ball. Defensively, their linebackers are impressive, their secondary is very physical, they put pressure on you to make you make decisions quickly. On offense, they have some homerun threats. So they're a good football team."

Do you find yourself concerned as pulling you guys back a little bit, being not too motivated for . . . [pull back motivation, not too focused on revenge].

"Well, it's week-to-week you get ready to go. Our guys have, well, you know, they understand how good this football team is, and they certainly have respect for UNLV and their program, and they know they will have to play well."

Have you ever had a shortened week like UNLV will have this week?

"In high school, I played on a Wednesday/Saturday to win the state championship. That seemed to have worked out okay. I don't think at this level, since I've been in college coaching, off-hand I can't remember a short week like that."

Could that be a factor for UNLV? I mean, if you were in that position, would you be worried about maybe changing some things in practice, not just . . .

"Well, if I would, yes. John's been in this business a long time. They had the scouting report, tentative scouting report, that they've seen on us. They know what we're going to do. They watched us play Saturday. I'm sure they had all day Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon to game-plan, to implement what they saw us do into their scouting report. So that would be completed. You probably could get started on the, besides the scouting report, some initial game-plan installation. And then, it depends on, I don't know when they got back or what they're going to do, but normally, they could probably get by with one workday and more the mental aspect of it. And I'm sure that's what they'll do. So there's a way to handle it. You just don't have your luxury of one additional day or a day off or that type thing. You just don't have that luxury. But you can make it work."

Barry, in terms of the review, with instant replay, do you see anything change, any tweaking that they will do with a week under their belt and maybe some kind of, not privy to the reports that came from around the league, but any feedback with how it works at other places?

"We had the only two calls, I think of out of 900 and some places as I saw, we had the only two calls, the only two that were reviewed. I think that as you take a look at it, or as they take a look at it, I'm sure the conference wouldn't think that the way our second one was handled, that would be a reason to replay it and hold the game up that long. I don't think that that was what the replay was all about. It would have to be things that were instrumental to the game, that would influence the game, that you could either take a look at and make a decision on it and move forward. I think that thing took about five, five to seven, I don't know, five or seven minutes, maybe more. I don't think that they want that. I really don't. I talked to Dave Perry already today. But I didn't hear anything else. I thought on the first one, just the fact that they thought that Dontez (Sanders) had his knee down and overruled that, that's what the rule's for. I thought it was really a tight call, quite frankly, but they felt it was the right call, and we have to live with that."

Is the biggest flaw in the system is determining which play gets reviewed and which doesn't?

"Well, I think, as we move along in this, even the people in the box, the people reviewing it believe and the coaches will have a better understanding as we have some experience. There will be some growing pains. I think some common sense will be in place and that you can use towards this. And I think all of us can remember situations in a game where there was a call, whether it was an incompletion, a trapped ball, an out-of-bounds, and there might be a handful a year, I don't know. But when that happens, that should be overruled."

You said it was a tough decision to make for your punters because their competition is so close but that (Ken) DeBauche has a little bit of an edge in practice. Will you measure them again in practice this week and base your decision that way?

"We will continue the competition. You're not going to be anointed the punter because you won off-season. We will continue to do that. Whoever kicks the best this week, because R.J. (Morse) really kicked well during camp, both of them did. But when you have competition, whoever wins it has to win the job."

Jason Jefferson, the guy who is so overlooked sometimes, it seems like such a talent to the defensive line, how important is he to what you do up front?

"In any defensive scheme, just being able to depend on your people being in the right spot, particularly in the defensive line with all the combination blocks and all the different schemes that you get, it's important that they're where they're, you know, they're in their proper gap and gap responsibility, so that the linebackers and the secondary can play off of. And Jason's been very reliable that way. You know, his numbers sometimes maybe not wouldn't be as much as the ends or Anttaj's (Hawthorne) but he's very valuable for the defense, because of his consistency."

Remember 11 minutes to go and you put a whole new offense in the game, the second string, did you see a great opportunity there or is that something you consciously wanted to do is get some of these younger kids involved?

"I really wanted to play Tyler (Donovan) in the game. And if we had the opportunity, I wanted to play all of our second unit. You want to get them on the field. That's just good for the program. It's good for their development. I'd like to establish some depth in some positions. The only way you can do that is get them on the field and let them play. We were able to do that with the second defense also. We played a lot of people, and I think it was 11 minutes, from that point on really it was the second unit that played. I liked the fact that we moved the ball offensively. I would have liked to have taken one of those drives in. I wasn't crazy about the turnover, but Tyler I thought really did a nice job. We blocked them, we covered people up pretty well. They really did a lot more movement with that young group in there, because I'm sure they felt that we wouldn't throw the ball, that it was going to be a running game. So our young linemen covered them up pretty well."

Do you have to do a better job of accounting for Jamaal Brimmer, their safety, and is it hard, because sometimes running plays aren't designed to block the safety necessarily?

"Well, when they're coming from two deep, shallow, coming down hill, we're going to see that every week. We saw that this week. What they do with him, because of their scheme, they'll bring him off an edge. And many times, it's hard to account for him off of the edge. This past week, we tried to get our receivers down in there to try to, to try to get a hat on the safety's as they field, because I thought (Atari Bigsby) was a very good safety that we saw this week. He could play for most people in the country. But they moved Brimmer ... they move him around. But he's really effective coming off the edge."

When you think of that game last year, what do you think of, is it turnovers, or do you think you were, the kids were outplayed?

"I tell you what, when you watch the film, we had two guys that didn't play very well. Jim (Sorgi) didn't play very well and Dwayne (Smith) didn't play very well. And when you turn it over … we had guys running clear, we didn't throw the ball well to them, we overthrew some. We had, I know in one possession a 14-point swing. When you fumble it in your territory and they score a touchdown, that's a 14-point swing. And then you're inside the five, actually we should have scored on the screenplay, and a play or two later, you give it to them inside the five. That's 21 points that you gave them right there, eliminating all the other turnovers. So we had the ball five times inside the 30 in the fourth quarter alone. And we didn't execute very well in the passing game."

There have only been a couple of games in this series with UNLV . . . what happened last year, and then the year before, it was a strange way the game ended. Does it feel like this series has a little life to it, maybe more than other non-conference series you have?

"The one out there a couple years ago … the game ended short for plenty of reasons. But really I don't think anybody thinks of that. We won the game and left. I don't think any of us are happy the way we played last year, you know, all the turnovers and just it was not a very good game, although we did have some guys play very well. I think when you look at it, they didn't have many yards. They were under 200 yards total offense. The thing is, our guys respect them and they know they'll have to play well."

Coach, do you have to worry about your guys getting too caught up in revenge? Do you have to coach against that or is that, can that be a motivational tool?

"We don't get much into that. It's about preparing. They're smart enough to know this is a good football team coming in here. They played better than us last year. That's why they won. They executed, they took advantage of plays, they made plays, and we didn't. We just have to do that. We want to win the game, we have to play better than they do."

How impressed are you with (Dominique) Dorsey their running back?

"He was very impressive. I liked him last year. I thought he was … I like backs like that. He's quick. He can make things happen. He makes you miss. I thought he looked, he was the fastest guy on the field yesterday. And we all know the type of athletes Tennessee has and how they can run. And for him to make them miss and have the day that he did against them, man, was that impressive."

Barry, what was said to you, did you get reports on how the weekend went off the field at Camp Randall? I mean, was that a big part of your review for the weekend?

"We'll have that discussion tomorrow. I have had several discussions with people about the suites and Buckingham and the Varsity Club, and all reports I had, people were very impressed with the service and the first-class manner in which they were handled, the food, all of that was, I think people were very satisfied from the reports I had. I understood there were a couple glitches just with the scoreboard. What they wanted to do with the camera, just the way we came into the field, the crowd was so thick in there, they couldn't get the cameraman in there where they wanted him, but that's something that probably could be corrected. But I didn't think there were many problems."

Were there one, two, or three things that surprised you about your performance on Saturday?

"Not really. I thought we performed well and have some mistakes, but I can't say that I was really surprised with any particular person or phase of the game."

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