Let me just first say I'm pleased to get a win. I thought West Virginia really battled. As I told our players, that's a team from a conference with a lot of pride. I think sometimes young players think the game is over at the half. I knew and expected them to fight and battle and they did. I thought they showed a lot of spirit and a lot of toughness. I think they are a well-coached team. I really like the way our guys played, particularly in the first half, all three phases. Other than a missed field goal, I thought our kicking game was excellent…and one holding penalty in the second half. I like the way our offense exploded when they had opportunities in that second quarter, took advantage of some things. And I thought our defense played particularly well the first half. A lot of young players made plays. Darrin Charles sprained an ankle, he got his foot stuck in the turf. We needed some young receivers to step up. You saw Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr again play very well, make plays. I thought Brooks (Bollinger) and (Jim Sorgi) threw the ball well. I'm not particularly pleased with, again, the penalties that put us in the hole on offense, particularly in the red zone. We have a lot of things we still have to work on, yet we had a solid victory and it's always easier to go back and practice when all your players played. We played a lot of players. A lot of guys got a chance to get in the game. We were able to reward a lot of guys. What we understand, and I think our players understand, we have a long way to go, but it's easier to do it when you win.
Can you talk about how well Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr have stepped in with Lee Evans and now Darrin Charles gone?
Alvarez: They really have and I thought it was slow that first ballgame just because things happen so fast, and just the progress they've made. I think Henry Mason is doing a nice job with them, Lee Evans is helping them along. But they make plays. They are guys that are playmakers. Both of those guys have turned into playmakers. So I mean, that's fun to see those freshmen handle themselves like that. I would have liked to see Brandon White come down with that one on the goal line. That would have been good for him. That would have been good for his confidence.
How difficult is it to maintain intensity with a big lead like that?
Alvarez: Well we tried to get their attention at half. I probably didn't do a very good job. But you know, you just try to emphasize it's up to them to play a clean game and hold them responsible. Regardless of whoever's playing, we want to do things the right way. We don't want to jump offsides. These people are not going to quit. You have to keep playing. We weren't talking about a 0-0 game. We were just talking about just playing the way we're supposed to play. And again, you have to give West Virginia some credit. I thought they made some adjustments, did some nice things coming out in the second half and they competed well.
Was stopping Avon Cobourne out of that spread offense your No. 1 goal?
Alvarez: Our whole philosophy is to stop the run. I don't care if it's a team that throws the ball 75 percent of the time. You have to stop the run first. And he's their run. I think other than that one run he had late in the game against our two's, he didn't do much. But that offense puts a lot of pressure on you. I thought our coaches did a nice job of preparing our kids, because you have to take care of him. If you bend that tackle down to make the play, the quarterback will read that and he'll run it around the corner, so you have to have somebody responsible for him. Then you have to be able to make the tackle on him in the open field. That's pretty hard. So stopping the run against them and that offense…because they want to run the ball. I mean he would run it every snap if he could. If they didn't have to punt, they'd run it. Now people think I do that, but I think most people would.
Barry they were begging you to pass, but it seemed like your guys were patient and figured it out. Did that please you?
Alvarez: They loaded the box, and we knew that. They were going to have eight guys close to the line of scrimmage. They really crowded their linebackers in there so that we couldn't come off on combination blocks. And they'd blitz and somebody would come off a block, and they made it pretty tough to run on because they are penetrating and doing some things. So we got out of containment. The quarterbacks did a nice job of getting outside of the pocket so they could blitz all they wanted inside and we had some time to throw. That put pressure on their people in the back end. Do they want to play man-for-man or do they want to play a three-deep zone, with not a lot of help because the linebackers are tucked up in there? So it was good adjustments by our offensive coaches and our kids had to execute it well.
In a situation like that, are you of the theory that you should be able to run the ball well anyway, or do you go somewhere else?
Alvarez: Well we threw the ball today. In years past, we wanted to see if they could still stop us with nine. Then you have to understand, if you pop the line of scrimmage, there's nobody left, so you have to probe it in there a little bit. And they mistakes too. You can't give the defense too much credit. Some of those guys stack up on one another, and they make a mistake on pursuit angles. Then usually your back only has to beat one guy. So we run against it and run successfully against it. I think we can throw the ball, and if you want to load up, I think we can hurt you throwing it.
Is patience the key there when teams load up against you?
Alvarez: Yeah, I think this is a good group of kids as far as making adjustments on the sidelines, on both sides of the ball. They listen, they are able to communicate, they are able to tell you what's going on on the field. Coaches making adjustments, they are able to take that from the sideline to the field which is important. A lot of times, I can remember as a coordinator, you ask a linebacker who blocked him, and he has three guys blocking him, the other linebacker has three and the noseguard has three, and I'd say, `Hell, there's not any left.' But that's how sometimes they see it. It's not that easy to transfer that on there. But I think these guys really do a good job of understanding what their coaches want and adjustments.
Can you talk about Donovan Raiola's play, and why Dan Buenning wasn't suited up today?
Alvarez: Buenning had surgery on his shoulder a year ago. It was getting sore, and the trainers just felt like it would be best for the season if we could just hold him for this week, and just give him rest for this week, and he'd be able to resume and he'd be in good shape. I was really pleased that we were able to play Donovan. We played him at both guards, he may have played center too. I thought he carried himself…I can't tell you how well he blocked or anything, but I didn't see any breakdowns in there. I think he's going to be a good player. He plays excited and he really likes to play. I was glad to get him in the game.
Are these non-conference games on the schedule giving you what you need so far in preparing for the Big Ten?
Alvarez: I thought we've gotten better each week. I thought we did some things better. I'm still not happy with the mistakes. We're going to need these five. We have some tough games left and a lot of things we have to improve on. But as long as we keep finding a way to win games and knock off some of the errors, we're going to have to get a lot better than this when we get to the league.
Is there a common theme to the penalties you have been experiencing, like lack of concentration or anything else?
Alvarez: You know what, I can't answer that. We emphasize that. We made them do different things this week. I mean we pounded that every day. First time we get down there, a tackle jumps, a tight end jumps another time. I don't know. That's concentration. It's not somebody drawing them offsides or anything. We didn't try any hard counts or anything else. They're just trying so hard…I think we can correct it.
You've seen a lot of different looks in the first three games. Are these next two games more conventional teams?
Alvarez: Well next week will be a lot like us. And I haven't watched them on film yet, but Northern (Illinois), what is it, two tight, one-back offense, zone-type team, a lot of things like we do it. So we'll be familiar with that. I'm not sure what Arizona does. I think Arizona might be a spread-out attack. I'm not sure. But seeing three different brands of offenses, three different defenses, adjusting on the run, particularly with young guys making adjustments week to week, obviously can help you in the long run.
How do you feel about your secondary right now?
Alvarez: You know, other than we had the ball thrown over us twice today. That hasn't happened in the first two ball games. I wasn't real happy with that. I thought we got a little sloppy towards the end. I thought we played well early on but our corners both got beat. I thought the one, Scott (Starks) was in perfect position, and he panicked on the ball. He should have just stayed on the guy's upfield shoulder and the guy couldn't have got to the ball. But all in all, I thought they played pretty well. I still think we can get better tackling. I think Jimmy (Leonhard) is playing super. I thought he was really good in punt returns today. That first half we had tremendous field position because of him. I thought our kicking game was exceptional. I thought our kickoffs were good, coverage was good, punts…I thought R.J. (Morse) punted extremely well. We've made a lot of progress in that area.
Were the late hits on your quarterback something that bothered you?
Alvarez: You like to get the 15 yards but you want to protect your guy. I didn't see them. I didn't see how flagrant they were, but they were obviously late hits.
We saw Jim Sorgi for one drive in the first half. Is that by design?
Alvarez: It was very hot today, and Brooks lost 11 pounds last week and had to have IV's after the game. We just decided before the game with the heat as it was, we were going to give him a break in the second quarter so that he'd be fresh in the second half. We have all the confidence in the world in the Jim. And I thought that paid off because he had fresh legs late. We were able to get out on the edge and do some things. And he flushed one time for a first down and I think if he had just kept playing through that half, there's potential that he dehydrates. Our little running back, Dwayne (Smith) I think the way he overheated…he was in one series and he overheated. I don't know if he was hyperventilating or what the deal was, but he was overheated. I mean, it was very hot out there.
West Virginia Postgame: Barry Alvarez Verbatim
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