Big Ten teleconference: Barry Alvarez

Alvarez' topics included kickers, instant replay, Anthony Davis' health and tailbacks in general

Opening statement

"Certainly pleased with coming home from the desert with a victory. It was very difficult under unusual circumstances with thunder showers and an hour and a half delay in the game and certainly had a very difficult game with Arizona but I think really accomplished a lot and can learn quite a bit from the game.

"Big Ten opener against Penn State this week. In watching them play I think they are an excellent football team with a lot of weapons. A good quality team we have coming in this week."

Could you assess John Stocco's play at quarterback?

"I think John has shown improvement each game. One thing that he has done very well is protect the football. He protects the ball and he's not throwing it up for grabs and he's getting rid of the ball—not taking sacks. I think he should improve more and more as the season goes along and feels more comfortable with things. I've been pleased. I was particularly pleased how he handled himself on the road and coming from behind in the fourth quarter and executing a couple excellent drives down the stretch to win the game. I like his progress."

Losing Anthony Davis early; did that challenge jar him at all?

"I will tell you this. It jarred me more than it jarred John. If you know John Stocco at all it doesn't seem like anything bothers him very much. He's very level headed, even keeled. If he is shaken or rattled he certainly doesn't show it."

In your games have you seen replay as helpful or as a hindrance

"We had the first two replays (in the conference). I thought the first one did not affect the flow of the game. I think, probably, our league learned from the second one, where it was a call, it ended up being a yard difference. And because of the delay in the game, it was quite a long delay for really a meaningless call. I think it did affect the flow of the game. Yet I think league and supervisor of officials and those who are viewing the replay have learned from that."

What's going through your mind during that long replay? What are some of the advantages and drawbacks to having a technical advisor decide when to review and having the coaches decide?

"He has a view of it and a replay and several looks at it. And time to assess whether the call should be overruled or not. If the coaches do it, as in the NFL, it's another phase, tactical part of game. Do you want to take a chance on losing a timeout and that type thing. It just adds a little more to the decision making process. I think the way we have it in principle is good."

Can you update us on Anthony Davis' condition and whether you think he might be available a week from now?

"Well, we are going to take a look at him. I hope so. He is going to have another MRI Friday. That was when we had it set up originally. It will give us a better idea of how much healing has taken place. I know he feels well. He's getting very anxious to play. Hopefully we can have him back soon. But that's all I have right now."

Just looking at the remaining tailbacks, obviously Booker Stanley got the vast majority of carries on Saturday. Does it just sort of depend on the opponent and situation in terms of how you divide it up with him and Jamil Walker?

"Yeah, and Chris Pressley's another freshman tailback we have that played in our first ballgame. We are going to have to play it by ear. Matt Bernstein is our fullback. We have him prepared to move back to tailback also."

Do guys like Dan Buenning get enough credit for the success your team has had running the ball the last couple of years? And what are some of the things that make him a captain and respected leader on your team?

"I don't know many offensive linemen that get a lot of credit. Some of the high profile guys do. Most offensive linemen get lost in the shuffle. Dan's been a four-year starter for us and has been a very solid player and he's a guy that does things right on and off the field. He's gained the respect of his teammates. He has really become a vocal captain with our team. He really has just done a nice job in accepting that leadership role."

Barry do you have any theories on why the place kicking has been so bad this past couple weeks in such crucial times. Have you noticed, has there been a drop in talent in the high school ranks when you've been recruiting.

"I wish I had the answer to that. It always seems like the ones that are being recruited really are excellent kickers. Making the adjustment from kicking from a tee in high school to kicking off the ground, I think is a major adjustment to many of those players, to the point where they're not even close to the same kicker when you get them as they were coming out of high school."

In regards to that, what is your theory on scholarshiping kickers? There are some coaches who think that because of the adjustment it's not really worth the risk of scholarshiping. They'd rather just recruit a walk-on kid.

"Well it's not worth the risk until you are stuck where you don't have a kicker and depending on walk-ons. I had theory that they had to earn one. I was very fortunate that I was able to do that with a couple. They turned out to be excellent kickers. Then when you have an excellent kicker and you've got him for three years, you can cultivate walk-ons and bring them on and develop them. But if that scholarship player does not pan out it can really set you back. That has happened to us. We had a run of probably six or seven years where we had excellent kickers from John Hall to Matt Davenport to Vitaly Pisetsky. And you take it for granted. You make a mistake on a scholarship, then you are depending on walk-ons and it never seems, and we're still trying to catch up."

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