Well I'm really pleased with the way my football team responded. I thought we had a great week of practice, I thought they paid attention to detail, I thought the coaches did a nice job of coming up and changing the game plan, doing some things differently. But most importantly, our players responded this week and were really into it. I thought they played well in all three phases today. Offensively we spread our formation out to try to run the ball, but when you do that to get respect from the defense, you still have to be able to throw it and catch it. I thought we did that, and Brooks had a nice rhythm offensively. On defense we wanted to make sure they didn't throw it over our heads. We didn't get that. I wasn't too crazy about that one long run. They caught us in a blitz, yet defensively, against a good offense, I thought we did a nice job. The kicking game was outstanding, other than one kick. You can find some mistakes, but for the most part they made plays, they set up plays, set up points. It was sound. So all three phases contributed to the win. I thought we beat a good football team. We need this time off. We need this week off. We've got some guys that are banged up. Plus we needed mentally to get away and just clear our heads and get ready for the Big Ten season.
Was Alex Lewis' block a called block?
Alvarez: Yes. We just put a block in. What we tried to do, we had a double hold-up, where we use two guys to hold up. Then we showed the hold up and stemmed inside. Alex gets a lot of pressure. When you send a block, we brought sprinters from outside in, so they had to double count. He was one-on-one with the long snapper and we felt like he could beat him.
That was a pretty athletic play, wasn't it?
Alvarez: You know what? I didn't even see who blocked it. They told me Alex did. But it doesn't surprise me. I tell you what, he's a wiggler. That's what we used to call those guys in there. You need a wiggler that can run the head of the center, then avoid the upback and then get to the punter's foot and not be right on top of the punter. You have to be on the side of him.
How important was the success of your short passing game in setting up the run?
Alvarez: Well we had to complete passes or the guys that were out covering the flanks would squeeze back inside and take the run away. So it was crucial…there is no use lining up in that if you can't throw and catch it, because they will just ignore it. It was very crucial for the game plan that we were successful throwing and catching it.
Was this kind of a coming-out party for Lewis?
Alvarez: We saw that through two-a-days. Alex just really studies the game, and this is new stuff for him. You know in junior college, I think they told him, `sic ‘em.' Whoever has the ball, go get it. And there's a lot more to it, a lot more responsibility and a lot of different calls. This is all new stuff. But he loves to play the game, and he's physical, and he just brings an excitement to the field and I think it's contagious with the other guys.
How close is he to being an every-down player?
Alvarez: You know what? The thing we've found, he plays so hard, he fatigues. I mean, he hyperventilates. So I think we'll always have to keep spelling him and I think Broderick (Williams) has done some nice things. Those are two guys…Alex probably runs a 4.5, and Broderick runs (a 4.5). You know, two 4.5 linebackers give you some speed in there and they can cover. I think there's a place for both of them. Plus we use them on a lot of the special teams. We'll continue to split time in there, and he'll be more effective that way.
Can you talk about the Anthony Davis-Dwayne Smith combination?
Alvarez: Well Anthony tweaked an ankle. I thought he really ran hard today. He had a good week of practice. I visited with him in the earlier part of the week, and just told him not to press. You know, he'd get his yards and just don't worry about numbers. His numbers will come. And I was waiting for him to come out the back end of a lot of those runs. But he tweaked an ankle, and it's nice to be able to go to Dwayne. Dwayne's a load. I thought he ran hard. I thought he moved the pile. I thought he got in the back end. I was expecting him to come out the other side. But I was real pleased with both of them.
It seemed like those short passes helped Brooks Bollinger get in a rhythm today.
Alvarez: You know, they played a soft corner. So we knew we'd have some throws into the boundary, whether it be out of shotgun or three-step drop. We had those throws and he was able to put it there. So yeah, I thought that really helped him get in rhythm. I thought he threw the naked very well. They were in his face a few times. He got the ball down the field, found the right guy to get the ball too. But I thought he was real crisp today.
Is this as good a stretch of three or four games you can remember for Brooks?
Alvarez: Um, I thought there was a lot of criticism last week? Brooks may not do it pretty. I know the West Virginia game he was awesome, and he was good today. I just know this – I like to go to war with him.
Did your offensive line take those 10 sacks given up last week personally?
Alvarez: I'm sure they did. You know, they weren't responsible for all 10, but they were responsible for some. Those guys have a lot of pride. I thought they did a nice job today, because there was a lot of blitzing coming from a lot of different areas. That double eagle package is something new. I really felt they put in extra time. They knew…you could hear them, every time they came off, they could tell (Offensive Line Coach Jim Hueber) what exactly was going on, what they were going to next. They really knew it. They were prepared well.
When you talked to AD earlier this week, did you sense any frustration in him?
Alvarez: I just wanted to make sure it didn't happen. I wanted to make sure he didn't believe anything he read in the paper and just don't let things get to him. Just keep playing, and the most important thing, have a good practice. Don't worry about all the external stuff. You just do the things you can control. I didn't sense that he was getting frustrated. I just wanted to make sure it didn't happen, because I know he has a lot of pride, and that's just the natural thing for a guy. I can remember doing the same thing with Ron Dayne as a sophomore. Just making sure he just took care of his business, that good things are going to happen. He's a good back, and we'll get it figured it out.
At 5-0, do you feel better about where you are today than you did a week ago?
Alvarez: Well yeah, because we have one more win. We wanted to be 5-0, we are 5-0, we played well today. And quite frankly when I sat up here last week, I felt pretty good. I really did. I know you people, you don't quite understand that, some of you, but when you don't play well, we learn from that game. And then we really, with our backs against the wall – if anybody would have made a mistake down the stretch, we lose – that's a character builder. And I knew our guys would respond. So I felt pretty good about last week's game. I didn't want my players to know that. But I just think this team has some character. And we still have a long way to go. We've got a lot of things we have to correct, a lot of things we can get better at, yet I think our attitude is good. They should have some confidence now. We have some momentum.
How pleased are you about B.J. Tucker's play today?
Alvarez: I thought B.J. played…B.J's played well all year. Corners are going to give up some throws, but getting two picks today…I thought the pick he made on the first play last week was unbelievable. I thought that was about as athletic a pick as I've seen, on a tough route and a pretty well-thrown ball. But B.J. is playing very well right now. And he's playing with a lot of confidence.
You had a 96-yard drive in the second quarter, but was your most impressive drive the third quarter drive to answer their touchdown? 15 plays, 80 yards, 8:36 with four third-down conversions?
Alvarez: Well I like the fact that we answered. The 96-yard drive was huge, but when they had that big run and they score fast. I'm always…I never feel comfortable. I felt comfortable with four minutes left to go in the game. But when they get that fast score and really don't take any time off the clock, I'm concerned the momentum might swing. So for us to take that ball and march it right back down the field, that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin. But it's just the fact that we answered, and I thought we got very conservative at the end, trying to run the clock out, playing some other guys. Yet we were able to establish the run when we had to.
How key was your defensive line pressure on Jason Johnson to get him out of his game?
Alvarez: You know, it's hard to throw when you're running around. I thought we had some pretty good coverage. I didn't feel like they felt they'd have enough time to really sit back there and throw a lot of deep balls. And when we blitzed, we had some pressure, although they caught us on that long run. They caught us on an inside blitz. But when we didn't blitz, Jake Sprague in particular stood out to me. Jake I thought, had a lot of pressure on him. So that makes it hard, particularly if we're rushing three and we're double-covering and doing a lot of combination stuff in the back, it makes it difficult for him. But I have a lot of respect for him. And I did coming into the game. I think he's a very good quarterback and they're a very good offense. That offense I believe led the Pac-10 a year ago.
The last two times you've gone 5-0, you've gone to Pasadena. Is it fair to compare those two seasons to this one?
Alvarez: No. Every year stands on its own merit. Our competition is going to get much stiffer in a hurry. I'm glad we have five, but that doesn't have anything to do with previous years or anything like that.
Barry, you're still wearing your rubber band. Was that a symbolic rallying point?
Alvarez: It was. Everything helps. Every little bit helps to show the importance of things, and just as a reminder to the players. It just gives them something to think about all the time.
In preparing for this week, you took out the drive from last week and showed that to your players to emphasize the pace and efficiency they should be playing at. How much do you think that had to do with how it carried over this week?
Alvarez: Well you know the easiest thing to do after last week is sit there and beat them up. We're going to pick up our intensity, but the important thing is to show them what they did well and show them how to play fast. And when they play fast, and pay attention to detail and you do all the little things right, and your back's against the wall and you can't make a mistake. A lot of teams can't do that, and I just wanted to show them what they're capable of. Because we went through this five games and if we don't play well, any one of those five teams could have beaten us. We had to come from behind twice to win. I just think a lot of character was built. I thought our football team came a long way in those five games. And I don't want them to get down. I don't want them to get down on themselves. I just want to make sure they understood what they could accomplish, but how they have to play to get things done.
Is this the best possible time for a bye week?
Alvarez: Yeah, I really felt when we looked at the schedule, starting as early as we did, this bye couldn't have come at a better time. We have a lot of guys beat up. I was very reluctant to play Brooks in the second half. He's got a thigh bruise. He wanted to play. He played the third quarter. Anthony has a tweaked ankle. We have a lot of guys that are banged up. They're going to need some time to get healed. We have so many young guys playing, and the one thing I know with freshmen, the length of the season, they can hit a wall. So I think this is really an ideal time for them. Some of them can go home if they live close by. I've already told them, for the guys far away, somebody take them home. Not this weekend, but next weekend. Hopefully they can clear their heads, come back recharged and get ready for the Big Ten season.
Arizona Postgame: Barry Alvarez Verbatim
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