Monday press conference: Barry Alvarez

UW football coach discussed secondary woes, strong play of offense, and looking ahead to Temple

Audio file 1 (10:06) - - premium link

Can you refresh our memories about this whole scheduling business and how Temple got to be here and are there any guarantees that this wouldn't happen again?

"(MAC commissioner) Rich Chryst called me. I can't even remember when it was, saying that they're in the process of adding Temple. Temple was trying to get in. They were making moves to move into the MAC conference.

"After looking at all of the scheduling, if we would switch games with Western (Michigan) and Temple, that we could give them a MAC schedule. It would really be a huge favor to him and to their league if they could, you know, if we would do that. And, we want to do some things with Rick and with the MAC as far as some scheduling in the future, and I just thought this would be a good gesture if we did do it...

"It was okay with Western. Temple needed to do it. I certainly had the option. I didn't have to do it. If I had just said, 'You know, we have schedules printed up already, Rick, and we're too far along, I'd prefer not to do that,' then I'm sure that would have been fine with him. But I just felt that we could do that for him."

Barry, after looking at the tape, in particular in the secondary, just how disappointing was their play, acknowledging that (Omar) Jacobs is a (heck) of a quarterback?

"I was disappointed because I felt we had some guys that abandoned their technique and abandoned some of the things that we just worked a month on. And you can't play unilaterally. You can't do your own game. You can't take whatever leverage you want. You know, you can't bite on things. Everyone has a responsibility and everyone plays off of that responsibility, so it was very disappointing to me to see two or three guys not playing their techniques and responsibilities like they've been taught.

"We had so many guys defensively. I thought our front played especially well. I thought they played hard and did a lot of good things. He was sacked maybe a handful of times last year. We were able to get to him and keep some decent pressure on him. But on a scheme if you have a couple of guys that break down or just short circuit for some reason, you are not going to be very good, so that's the disappointing thing when that happens."

Barry, do you remember the last time you played Temple?

"I do."

What do you remember as you walked off the field that day?

"What was I thinking? Well, first I took a look at myself, why I went on fourth and short three different times and we lost by six, I think, or whatever we lost by.... Defensively they had a drive late in the game that they had to score. It was win or lose, if we stopped them, we win, and they had a good quarterback that year. I think an option (quarterback), and we totally broke down on the option play. Nobody took the pitch or whatever. I remember those two things, three fourth and shorts that we could have kicked and breaking down on an option at a crucial time."

I think in preseason camp you talked about Nick Hayden as a guy who showed up more once you looked at the tape than when you first saw him live in a scrimmage. Did he show up more on the game? Could you notice him during the game when he was being disruptive in there?

"I noticed him a few times in the game. I wasn't paying a lot of attention to individuals up front. But our front played very solid."

Coach, along some of the lines of looking at the tape, how do you prepare the team defensively to take on Temple after Saturday?

"Well, you try to get an emphasis to them to get back and trust what you practice. That's why you practice. You know, a couple of our guys, I don't know why they did practice. They could have done what they did just by showing up on Saturday. That's disappointing.

"And we may give a few of the young guys an opportunity. We may take a look at some of the freshmen. Give them more reps and see if they can give us what we're looking for. I'm certainly not pleased with what we got back there in some of the positions and we have to take a look at some other guys and take a look at some other options.

Coach, on paper it seems like you guys will be a big favorite against Temple. How do you coach against overconfidence against Temple?

"What we try to do is concentrate on what we've done. The film Saturday is a great film to build off of. We did a lot of good things on offense, yet there's a tremendous amount that we can improve on and we can clean up. I thought it was a tremendous starting point on offense, particularly with three new starters in the offensive line.

"You talk about covering people up and being physical and playing fast and doing the things that we talked about and did in practice, they carried it over to the field. And... everybody on offense... every phase of the offense. Receivers blocked well, that's what we asked them to do in that game. John (Stocco) showed toughness did what he had to do. Bernie (Matt Bernstein) blocked better and played better than he's ever played in his career. Our tight ends did. But there are some things we can clean up.

"Defensively it's we've got to get better. We've got to improve. The people who are going to go back. I'll emphasize that whatever we didn't do well in that game, people are going to pick on it. If you don't improve, you're in trouble. So it's about us. It's not about who we're playing. And the score is misleading, I think, when you take, when our guys watched that film, there were some turnovers and some things that happened that got the game out of hand.

"This quarterback's thrown for 4,000 yards, and going into this season, they were predominantly a one-back, four-wide team. They played the second half one back and four wide, much like we just saw. And I would anticipate that that's what we're going to see again, so we're going to have to improve. So there's no one that's taking a rest on their laurels."

You mentioned Bernstein, Barry. How big of an impact did Bernstein have on that game? Is that physical style of play, is that contagious?

"Well, it's not just Bernstein. Bernstein did what he was supposed to do. He was very physical at the point of attack, whether it be in isolation on the linebacker, blocking on the defensive end, blocking on the corner on the edge, finding an inside linebacker, scraping, he got on the right person and blocked him. That's what his job is and he did it with a lot of force.

"But it wasn't just him. It was the offensive line chopping people and being physical. I thought (Kraig) Urbik threw people around, for his first start, and played with a lot of confidence. Bernie's most vocal. He's a captain. I'm sure he has a lot to do with just the personality of that offense and the personality in the huddle. So I would think, you know, how much he brings there, I don't know, but I'm sure it's substantial.

I think you guys played eight guys in the secondary, if I counted correctly, last week. Is there anyone who earned your trust Saturday by how he played or reinforced some trust that you already have?

"I can't say that there's anyone that played their best game. Brett Bell has played a lot better than he played. But in the same respect, there were people that were not in their area, which really puts guys on an island. And I don't want to get specific with anyone. I mean, it's obvious. They threw the ball around behind us a number of times.

"One of our major points of emphasis, 'Don't let them catch the ball behind you,' and they were behind us quite a few times. We talk about not giving up a bomb, not giving up big plays. We gave up big plays. So we'll work on it. I don't want to sit here and act like that's our only... just talk about the negative because we did so many good things. We'll work on the secondary and they will improve."

Barry, you talked about the hit on Stocco the other day. Did you get any explanation from the officials on whether they saw that or whether they just disagreed with you that it was an illegal hit? And are you going to talk to (Big Ten coordinator of officials) David Parry or have you already?

"I talked to David already. He agreed with my assessment.

"So we'll get a late flag."

Audio file 2 (8:49) - - premium link

Barry, you mentioned the other day that in the Bowling Green game you used a pretty much a small percentage of your offense. Was that because you didn't want to show it or you didn't need it or some combination thereof?

"I didn't want Jacobs on the field. Why do anything else, if you run a handoff, an isolation and a counter and (are) going up and down the field. I mean, you don't have to get cute. People like to see Brian (Calhoun) and Book (Booker Stanley) run. I just did not want him on the field. I felt like at any time we could have taken a shot and had somebody running free. I did not want him on the field. I did no want the defense out there tiring any more. So I chose to run the clock because we could."

Are you anxious to see what the rest of the offense can do, particularly passing game?

"If we can do that every week, we will do that every week, I promise you."

If you get a chance to look at a third tailback, for example, this week or at some point, are you going to look at (Jamil) Walker yet or (Dywon) Rowan?

"That will be week-to-week. Last week, it probably would have been Rowan."

What feedback did you receive from the reunion and just the grand re-opening of the stadium?

"Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see a lot of those guys. I know (Associate A.D.) John Chadima was with a number of them yesterday. They were thrilled. You know, I did have a few calls this morning talking about how much they appreciated our overture to have them back. A number of those guys had never been back here. Joe Panos called on behalf of his group just to thank us. They really thought it was special, the pageantry beforehand and being introduced, all those different groups, a lot of positive things."

Homecoming is supposed to be that date, but would you like to continue to do this at other times?

"I think it's healthy when you do that... I think it carries on tradition and it bridges the gap with alums and former players. I just think it's healthy for them and us. I'd like to do something. I don't know if you can do it every year. You know, we've done it in the spring before, invited everyone back, and we've had pretty good turnouts at that for the spring game and some things. So I just think it's good when those guys to come back. But we'll continue to do things like that."

After the game, with the players and assistant coaches, any mention of Joe Thomas' name brought a smile from ear-to-ear on any of them. I believe it was a year ago before the season started, you said he had the potential to be one of the best that's ever played here. Are you still seeing that in his development and what has impressed you most about Joe Thomas so far?

"Joe I don't think is ever satisfied with how he played, and he played very well. I think you can see now he's physically, he's much stronger, probably 20 pounds heavier than he was a year ago and that's good weight. He moves, just how graceful he moves and how athletic he is. He was very impressive in the game, just playing with a lot of confidence and savvy and I'm sure he gave, he and Donovan (Raiola) gave the three new starters a lot of confidence. That group is really going to continue to grow. But he played super... He and Brian (Calhoun) will be the two players of the game."

Just to follow on Brian's line of questioning, more reaction from the throwback uniforms and did anybody get screwed up because the W's were on the front instead of the side?

"I had a friend from Pittsburgh call me. It was just before their game and I think he'd been tailgating for quite awhile. This was just before the Notre Dame and he said, 'Oh, as the athletic director now you're trying to save money, huh?' I said, what are you talking about?

"'He said, those were the ugliest helmets, you were trying to save a few bucks on the decal, just throw a little tape on the helmet, no names on the back of the jerseys, what the heck is going on.' I said, they were throwback jerseys, didn't you understand what we were doing. 'No, I didn't have the sound up on the TV, we were tailgating, I was just watching the game.' So that was his response.

"Somebody told they were coming down the elevator and someone in the elevator said 'sure didn't like our new uniforms.' So I don't think everyone got the message what was going on. Our players enjoyed them. I think our players had fun with them and other than those two things didn't hear much negative. Players will get a jersey and then the rest of them will go on (, but I think it was kind of fun to do."

Will we see them again?


What do you think of Temple on both sides of the ball?

"I think offensively I like their quarterback. They've got two good receivers. Big offensive line. I think there is potential. They can be dangerous, especially if they spread you out. They create some problems on offense.

"Defensively, it's a very good front, the two 300-plus-pounders inside, big, physical guys. The two defensive ends are very good players. One kid is hard to block. The games I've watched, I think he was an All Big East player last year... The last game and some of the games last year that I watched, he doesn't stay blocked very long, he'll be hard to contain.

"The Arizona State game was misleading just because of the way the game went.

"Temple is a team that historically is a physical team. Guys get after it, like to play, and our guys will have to be ready for a physical game.

Barry, what did Brian Calhoun show you last year during the year that he sat out either about his character or his work ethic?

"The thing that really impressed me was a guy who had been a starter in a big-time program comes in, doesn't look down his nose or feel that it's demeaning to him to run on the scout team. And one week the coaches may say, 'All right, you are that little scat back from UNLV, this is what we'd like to see.' He'd jump around and try to make you miss. The next week you're someone else, try to emulate them.

"I think what that did is give him the respect of all the players as well as the coaching staff. It just showed me the type of person he is, that he was glad that he was here and whatever he could do at that time without being able to play on Saturdays he was willing to do for the team. It shows a lot about his character."

Barry, there's sometimes a tendency for people to think leaders have to be vocal types, and Mark Zalewski doesn't exactly fit that mold but yet his teammates thought enough him to make him a captain. Can you just talk about what type of leadership he gives you?

"...I would normally think that when a player votes for a captain, looking for leadership and somebody that does things right on and off the field. And naturally they have have to be a player, they have to be on the field to lead, but off the field they're doing the right things. Zalewski is a guy that does what he's supposed to in the classroom. He's a guy that's dependable. Those were the things that they see, and a guy that plays with a lot of confidence on the field.

As a former linebacker yourself, what jumps out the most about him to you?

"The thing that I'm impressed with... when we recruited him, he can really run, and he's maintained that. Even though he's gotten bigger, he has a good burst and he's really got a lot of quickness and flat-out speed. He has a lot of closing speed. And he's started to play with a lot of confidence. He's just learning that inside position. I think he'll continue to get better."

Badger Nation Top Stories