Postgame Flash Report: Barry Alvarez Verbatim

Wisconsin opened up the season with a thrilling 23-21 victory over Fresno State. Here is what Coach Barry Alvarez had to say immediately following the win.

First of all, I'm very pleased with the win. I'm proud of the way our players responded. I thought they had their backs against the wall several times. There were a lot of momentum swings in the game. I thought they really showed a very strong, competitive nature in all three phases of the game and did what they had to do to win. I wasn't real pleased with...we made a lot of mistakes. Turnovers, which is not common for us. Late hit, a hold on the two-yard line which cost us a touchdown. We started out shaky in the kicking game yet I thought it improved. I saw a lot of wide eyes, as I talked about earlier in the week, from some young players. Yet I saw them compete as the game went on and come up and make some plays. All in all, the mistakes that were made I think are all correctable. I think the young players now have a sense of urgency, why we do things the way we do. I think it will improve, but we'll have to get much, much better as we move on. I always say I think you get better between your first and second game, and I think we're going to have to.

Can you talk about the performance of Jim Leonhard?

Alvarez: Jim is a special kid. He's so unassuming looking. A little guy. When I tell people he won our slam dunk contest. He can stuff it any way you want it, the type of athlete that he is and how he competes. He's amazing. I'm really proud of him. Now there's one cat who didn't have big eyes.

Is 37 carries too many for Anthony Davis?

Alvarez: Yeah it is. Quite frankly it is. I was ready to play our freshmen today. They were late for breakfast. They didn't know where to line up. We were ready to run some plays before the game. Neither one of them were lined up. I knew they weren't quite ready for it, and I wasn't going to take a chance and put them in a game. They're both talented enough, but there is just too much at stake. I would have liked to have played them today, but they weren't ready to play.

How did your freshmen receivers look?

Alvarez: They started slow. They were playing against press coverage. Good defensive backs. I thought the secondary...No. 5 is a special player. Very physical. I thought their corners...and Pat Hill said that before the game. "Our guys will press coverage and cover them man-for-man. We'll stick nine in the box." I mean he just said, we're going to do that. No freshmen receiver is going to get off our guys. And they had a good plan, but they came up with some plays. Brandon Williams is really going to be a nice player. He made some nice catches today. I thought Brandon White did some good things. I'm just glad, they were under fire today and they were able to do some things.

Are those freshmen receivers so talented that you can live with some mistakes?

Alvarez: Yes. We really don't have any choice. They're can see Darrin (Charles) isn't 100 percent. He's having a hard time putting that foot in the ground. Hopefully he'll get better next week, but those guys are talented, and they can run. They will be good players and thank goodness we had them tonight.

Did you have any injuries tonight?

Alvarez: (Matt) Bernstein had a hyperextended knee. So I don't know how long that takes. I don't think that's real serious. I think (Ryan) Aiello had a sprained MCL which normally isn't that serious. I don't think there was anyone else.

Did Bernstein give you what you were looking for in short-yardage?

Alvarez: He did and when he got hurt, I would have liked to have pounded Bernie in there late in the game. That's what we were hoping, 260 pounds, if you have Anthony outside running and they're overshifting with our tight end in motion so we had some seams inside. Bernstein can run and he can move people. I was real pleased with that and we felt like we could get that.

Do you have any answers now in the kicking game?

Alvarez: Yeah, I thought we started obviously very shaky. You know, we try a punt out of field goal formation and Scott (Campbell) shanks it, he doesn't hit his kickoff very well, and that's all from early game stuff. Mike (Allen)'s first one was an ugly kick, but he ended up making some plays. He made some kicks. Hopefully this will give him some confidence. I thought (Adam) Espinoza stepped in there and kicked it very well. We had just enough of a breeze, we felt we could kick it out the other way. Scott Campbell is an excellent squib kicker and that was a huge play late in the game to put them back. Our other guys can't do that, to pin them back like he did. That was huge. Yeah, I do have answers. I feel like they've been under fire now. I saw them under fire. They should have confidence going into the next game.

Do you breath a sigh of relief to have won this game?

Alvarez: Yeah, anytime you win a close game you can say that. I'm glad we won because we didn't play particularly well. We made a lot of plays and did what we had to do. I like the character of our team but we have a lot of work to do. Had Fresno won, they could have said the same thing. They shot themselves in the foot too. Both teams made a lot of mistakes and hurt themselves. It wasn't a clean game. It wasn't a well-played game. There were a lot of mistakes on both sides, I thought.

Was this the type of resiliancy you focused on in the offseason, coming back from three deficits?

Alvarez: Well you can talk about that all you want. I don't know how you focus on that. You hope that you have guys that will respond, guys that can make some plays instead of hanging their heads. And you know what? Fresno did the same thing. I thought they really responded. They are a tough-minded outfit. You saw them last year. Those guys aren't intimidated by anyone. They've been into Colorado and won. They've been into some other tough arenas and walked out of there, so they answered the call too. I didn't feel good until we broke that fourth down pass up. But I just like, when you find a way to win. There's something about that. When you don't play well. I've always said when you have a good season, there are times when you have to play poorly and win, and sometimes be a little lucky. Sometimes get a bounce and sometimes the winning field goal goes inside the pole by a half-inch. So hopefully that's something that...I think our kids are tough-minded and I think our young guys will learn a little bit from this.

How did your defense look tonight?

Alvarez: I thought our defense...we missed a lot of tackles in the open field. They gave us a lot of things. We didn't know exactly what to prepare for because of their new offensive coordinator. I think when they had a couple of big plays, when they scored, there was some missed communication. Those are things that we can correct. I thought we made a lot of plays. I thought our secondary was much improved. They were three-step dropping a lot, and I thought we had a good push on the quarterback. I told the official, they can't block (Erasmus James) or (Jake Sprague). They were hanging on them. We got a couple of holding calls. But I thought we got off the field very well.

Brooks Bollinger just finds a way, doesn't he? He got knocked around quite a bit tonight.

Alvarez: Yeah, that's the way he plays. We have an option play run, we are going to come out the gate on it, and we have a freshman wide receiver jump offsides. Those are silly things that put you in a hole. But he's a winner. He's not very happy with the way he played. He told me that after the game. Yet he found a way. He still had to take that game 80 yards, or, from the minus-20, he had to find a way to get down there and kick a field goal and he did.

How important was it to open this season with a win after last year?

Alvarez: You know, it's just important to open with a win. Last year doesn't have anything to do with it. I've tried to tell you people that. This is all about this year. Last year is over. This is a new team. We're trying to get some babies, try to dry them behind the ears and get them ready to play and mold the team here. This doesn't have anything to do with last year. I'm not trying to be a wise guy or anything, but I've been saying that and I'm serious about it. I mean it.

What did you think about the atmosphere tonight?

Alvarez: I thought our crowd was unbelievable. I hope they do that every week. I thought from the minute we took the field they were into the game. They were very positive. I thought our crowd was awesome. I thought the atmosphere was awesome. If you're watching on TV, or if you're Fresno, or you're somebody that doesn't know anything about either team and you walked in there and didn't enjoy that game, there's something wrong with you. I thought the atmosphere and the crowd was awesome.

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