Alvarez Verbatim: Big Ten teleconference

Wisconsin coach discussed the upcoming matchup with Arizona, Jim Leonhard's success as a walk-on, Mark Zalewski and Jamil Walker

Opening statement

"We're' very satisfied, pleased with our win last week. I thought we played particularly well on defense. Our defensive front is really playing well and really enabling us to rush four guys and get pressure on the quarterback and kind of set the tone for the defense. We also did some exceptional things in special teams. I really like the way those units are playing. Offensively we are still—We really gave up a number of opportunities when we had chances to score in the red zone and that's something we are going to have to correct.

"This week we go out to Arizona as you mention. We play a very much improved Arizona team. We play them at one o'clock in the afternoon, which presents some problems. But guys are anxious to play."

What presents problems when you look at Arizona and what are your impressions of their defense under Mike Stoops?

"No. 1. the thing you see when you watch the team play is they are coached very well. Excellent fundamentals. They fit very well on defense. They've learned the scheme very well, in a hurry. And they play hard. Those are things that you see and I see speed. I see a lot of people running to the ball. Good closing speed. I think their secondary is excellent. I think they've done a very nice job in a short time."

What is your secret with getting the most out of walk-ons?

"The walk-on situation—when I was in college at Nebraska. I think Nebraska really was the first school that took advantage of walk-ons. They took players that, there really weren't many people recruiting in the state of Nebraska. And they would take them by the truckloads. Guys would develop, they'd mature, they'd stick with the program and end up being players down the road. Because of our numbers situation, we are not allowed the numbers that you once were. We have to cut it off at about 125 total. We try to screen players within the state that we think have a chance. We actively recruit them and we treat them right. We have a history since we've been here of when someone does produce and contribute then they're put on scholarship. I think all the high school coaches and the players know that. And consequently you get somebody in your program, they've come because they like football. They normally have the right attitude, home sickness is not a problem, and if they buy into your program, do what they're supposed to, they mature and many times we've had some excellent players. A number of the guys who have walked on here have ended up playing in the NFL. Every one of our great teams, every Big Ten Championship, we've had at least two captains that were originally walk-ons."

Is there something specific about what Jim Leonhard has done in his time there?

"Jimmy is really a special young man. He is from a little town called Tony, Wis., probably 500 people in the northern part of the state. There has probably never been a recruiter through there. He happened to come to our football and we noticed him and then when you really start studying and once he enrolled you could just see he was a special athlete. He's not real flashy, but he's always around the ball and he makes things happen, he's very smart."

Could you talk a little about Jamil Walker, specifically his track background. How does that help him and what are the disadvantages to that?

"A good track guy many times they're wired tight and they're very sensitive. Many of them that I've been around have been susceptible to injuries, muscle pulls and that type thing. Some have not been crazy about contact. I'm not trying to blanket all track people because we've had some great ones too. Jamil's a football player who happened to run track. That's the way I look at it. Obviously The one thing that stands out about him is his tremendous speed and power. He has a great burst with tremendous size…I think he reported here early at camp at between 220 and 225…He's a guy that I expect to see improvement week-to-week."

Pretty confidant that he can handle the load as long as Anthony's out?

"He is not going to handle by himself. Booker Stanley's there and Booker's played a lot of football for us. But we will continue to work (Walker) in more and more. We tried to spoon feed him last week. We didn't put him between the tackles. We tried to let him use his speed and get to the outside. We will increase his load and increase what we do with him week-to-week."

You mentioned yesterday getting strong play from Mark Zalewski at linebacker. I was wondering if you could expand on that a little bit. Also, has he benefited form the position switch to the strongside or would he have just flourished no matter where he would have played this year?

"That's hard to say. He really never had a chance inside because every time he was ready to make a move these past two years some injury would hold him back. I just think the position change really adapted very well to him because of his speed. He was a sprinter in high school. He has excellent speed. You can use him in coverage. When you bring him on a pass rush or when he got the safety the other day you just saw his closing speed and how fast he closed on the quarterback in the end zone. I just think it's a perfect position for him and he's adapting and learning it as we go along."

What kind of problems is playing in the afternoon going to present to you guys?

"That remains to be seen. They say it's a dry heat. Like walking into an oven (laughing). The one thing that's somewhat prepared us is our temperature down on the field the last two weeks has been 100 degrees (on the field), with humidity…We know it will be warmer there. We expect anything from mid-90s to low triple figures. We will hydrate. We've tried to get a lot of players involved so that we can use some type of rotation in just about every phase. We've put some thought into this, knowing that we had a one o'clock game for several months now. We're not going to walk into it blind.

"Let me say this. There is not one player on their team that has played a home game at one o'clock."

Is it best not to dwell on that situation?

"Well it is going to be hot. I just visited with a coach that was with the Cardinals. The one thing he shared with me was the teams that made the biggest deal about the heat were the ones that had the most problems. I try to always be honest with the players and it is going to be hot. We'll prepare them. Our opponent's going to play in the same heat. We've tried to rotate enough people in, so I think we've played or rotated nine or ten defensive linemen in; receivers we've played a number of them; offensive line, we've been able to play two sets of offensive linemen. So we've tried to create some type of depth so that we can rotate and keep our guys fresh. We know it will be hot but we are not going to make a big deal over it. We are just going to address it."

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