Alvarez: Well, I'm very pleased with the win. I'll be honest with you. I really felt that Northern Illinois outplayed us on both sides of the ball. I thought we were on our heels all day. Give them a lot of credit. I thought their kids played extremely hard. Their coaches did a great job of game-planning and preparing. I feel very fortunate to walk out of there with a win. Yet we did win. And I have to give our players credit. I thought Brooks did a tremendous job on that last series. Our defense had a hold. When we had to punt the ball away with three minutes left, our defense had a hold. Our kicking team forced the hold, to give us better field position and then we were able to take it down the field. I think that says a lot about the character of our football team. There was no quit in them. They kept battling and found a way to win and I'm proud of them for it. I'm not very pleased with the way we played and I know we have to get better.
Would you consider this team a good team right now, after four games?
Alvarez: I wouldn't say we're a good team right now. But I do know this -- at the end of the year, any good team that I've played with, at the end of the year, there have been some games that you played poorly and you're lucky to walk off the field. And I think anybody that ever goes through a season…like I'm sure if you asked Miami last year, they felt very fortunate walking off the field against Boston College. You can go through those. In 1988, at Notre Dame we won the national championship, we beat Miami, broke their long winning streak, and we fought our…fought tooth and nail to beat a 1-10 Navy team and felt lucky to walk out of there with a win. I mean, it happens. I'm not saying we're a good team. I just know we have four wins right now and our kids know that they didn't play well and I think they'll tell you that. We have a lot of things to correct and yet, I think our attitude is good and hopefully we can correct it.
Under adverse conditions, can you talk about the poise your players showed on that last drive?
Alvarez: I just thought they knew what they had to do to win. I felt like even though they had the lead, our defense went in there determined to get the ball back. They did. Our punt return team did the same thing, they did what they had to do. Alex Lewis, we had a one-man pressure on that, and he forced the personal protector to hold him, 15-yard penalty now and they had to kick out of the end zone. I think he hurried that next kick. Even though we were called for a hold on that, we still spot the ball around midfield. And then the offense showing the poise to move down the field. I just like that. They knew what they had to do to win, and were able to execute it. Jason Jowers hurt his ankle on that last drive, and Mike Lorenz goes in and does a nice job of pass protection.
You had 41 rushes for 68 yards and 10 sacks against Brooks. How do you explain that?
Alvarez: Well I think a couple of times we broke down. We used the dash pass which was successful last year. I thought they came up with a nice plan. They used a delayed blitz with a scraping linebacker and our linemen had a hard time finding him. I think our back missed a couple of blocks on the dash pass when they came with the corner. There are three sacks right there. And then there are some times when you have young receivers, they have veteran corners, they are playing man coverage, and Brooks didn't have any place to go with the ball. He's a guy that's not just going to throw it up for grabs. And so there were some breakdowns in protection yet there were some times there was no place to go and he just pulled the ball down.
How about your inability to run?
Alvarez: I just thought they did a good job of…we didn't do a very good job of blocking them. We misread some holes. I thought they had a good scheme for us. They were coming from different angles. They had nine guys in the box, they were running their safeties down. Boy they were coming from the edge and hitting the linebacker in there. They tried to take away our outside run, our stretch play, and they were successful with it. We tried to probe inside with the fullback and some inside runs, yet they were running downhill. And give them credit. They took it away. I can say we missed blocks and we didn't do this and didn't do that, but I have to give them credit. They did a great job.
It seems like your defensive backs had to make the majority of your plays today. Were they able to neutralize your linebackers?
Alvarez: We had a problem. They had a tackle-over formation, and for some reason we adjusted differently than we normally do and I think our kids got out of kilter and we just weren't right on the thing. And consequently there were some running lanes in there and I was just surprised they were capable of running the ball the way they did against us. But they did.
Were missed tackles also part of that?
Alvarez: We had some missed tackles. We lost contain a few times. We just weren't very good. We weren't very good on defense. We came up with some plays when we had to, we weren't sound in some areas. We lost containment, guys weren't playing their responsibility, we didn't make good adjustments, we just weren't good. But we won, and I guess that's the best part.
It seemed like Darius Jones had a great game. Can you talk about his performance?
Alvarez: Yeah, if you can get pressure with three men rushing, it's pretty hard to find some place to go with the ball. Our crowd really helped us there I think. It cranks those guys up and I was really pleased to see Darius do that. I mean, we've been in situations before where people have drive the ball. I mean you saw Cincinnati here a few years ago when they took it down the field from the same spot, and found a way to tie it and go to overtime. So the game wasn't over when they spotted it on the 20. I really thought he gave us great effort, and again, with three men rushing, to get two sacks and that pressure, that's pretty good.
Did you sense your players were a little flat emotionally?
Alvarez: I thought we had a good week of practice. As a coach you try to address that and you try to address the history of this game, and how they'll come in to play the game. Last week's score was very deceiving, when you watch them in that South Florida game. That was a pretty good team. That was an even game through three quarters and they were emotionally zapped because they just found out that their running back…they didn't play their best game last week, yet it was a ball game through three quarters. Then there were some hits in the kicking game and that type thing which might mislead kids. I didn't sense that our kids were overlooking them or taking them lightly, yet obviously I didn't have them prepared to play like they have been in the past.
Did the way your younger receivers kind of struggled lead to some more time for David Braun?
Alvarez: I don't know how much time he saw. I don't know how many snaps he had, but he made some big plays again. That was a huge play. That was a great route that he ran, and he told me he felt he caught that one in the middle of the field. I don't know what the replay looked like, but he told me he thought his hands were under the ball and he thought he caught the ball. But David is very reliable. And I already addressed the fact that I thought their corners really did a good job of manning up on our guys. Brooks just couldn't find a place to go with it.
Are you worried about the lack of a 100-yard rushing day now in three straight games? Because this isn't the first year defenses have stacked 8-9 in the box against you. Normally you still are able to run against it.
Alvarez: Yeah, I'd prefer to be able to establish a running game. That makes things a little easier in the passing game. I don't like to line up 2nd-and-20 like we did today all day. Every time we'd pass or try to break things up on first down, we couldn't get the ball off or get sacked. If you're in a hole like that, we're an offense that has to be regular. A lot of things concern me. Not just the fact that we didn't run the ball well. A lot of things concern me. We have a lot of things to work on and we will.
How much more comfortable are you with B.J. Tucker as your starting guy than you were four weeks ago?
Do you know the exact nature of Jowers' injury?
Alvarez: I thought the trainer told me an ankle.
How about Jerone Pettus. Was that a concussion?
Alvarez: I thought he had a concussion, yes.
Even though you are 4-0, does it concern you that you still have so many things to iron out with just one more non-conference game left?
Alvarez: You know what? Football coaches concern themselves with the things they have to work on. If we were 0-4, I'd be concerned probably about the same things. You just want to get better. But you feel fortunate you're walking home with a `W.' I don't have any illusions of how good we are or anything, any illusions that we're a great team just because we've won four straight. My concern is just trying to improve and get our young guys better and find a way to go get another one.
Barry Alvarez Verbatim: Northern Illinois Postgame
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