What do you know about Indiana Coach Gerry DiNardo and what he likes to do?
Alvarez: I know he's technically a very good coach. Any team that he's ever coached, they are fundamentally very sound. I know that, he's just a very solid football coach. Al Borges, his offensive coordinator, we've seen several times. I've always thought he is one of the better coordinators in the country. We saw him against UCLA those two years we played them, once in the Rose Bowl, and then the Sun Bowl, got to know him a little bit. But (we) really gained a lot of respect for him after playing his teams and Gerry, having been an offensive coach, really has a good offensive mind. But he's a very, very solid fundamental coach. His teams are always sound and fundamentally sound.
Have you seen that so far from Indiana this season?
Alvarez: Yeah, you see his team getting better every week. You see them playing a lot of young guys. You see him trying to build a program with a good, solid foundation, not taking any shortcuts. I'm impressed with what I've seen and the improvement they've made in a short amount of time and how they've taught their system, which appears to be a complicated system, in a short period of time.
A couple of years ago, you lost your Big Ten opener and still won the Rose Bowl. Have you made a point to mention that to your team, that the season isn't over?
Alvarez: Well I did tell them that there's a lot of season left. But that's all I have to tell them. There's a lot of season left, and the thing you concentrate on is this game. You don't concentrate on the next seven games. You concentrate on this game and put all your focus on this game and what you have to do to prepare for it. The thing I learned a long time ago, you never worry about the rest of the year. You just worry about the present and worry about that.
Have you seen any similarities in Indiana's offense to what Al Borges did at UCLA?
Alvarez: Yeah, it's basically the same thing. He's probably not as far into it as he was at UCLA because he had been there a long period of time. But same formations, a lot of motion, you see a lot of the same routes. I just saw the same route with the motion and the back down the middle when Freddie Mitchell caught that first touchdown against us in the Sun Bowl. They'll throw a trick play in, at least one or two each ball game. But I see the same offense.
Have you faced DiNardo since that last game at Notre Dame?
Alvarez: No, I don't think so.
Did you outfox him that game?
Alvarez: No, I didn't outfox him. We were fortunate, one kid dropped the ball. He was in the open and dropped it for us. It was a good football game. We did a good job. They had a great defense. They had never been stopped in the red zone. Any time they got in the red zone, they scored a touchdown. If I'm not mistake, about every time. And we were fortunate, we stopped them just before the half in the red zone. (Their quarterback) got away from us one time, but we were a pretty good defensive squad. They were a great team. I think they were No. 1 in the country.
A year later, do you have any more perspective on that Indiana game last year?
Alvarez: Those games happen every once in a while. I really haven't put a whole lot of thought into it since last year. You try to get those out of your mind. We work so much on…sometimes you emphasize things, and because of that , you underemphasize some things that will end up hurting you. We were so worried about (Antwaan) Randle El, who we played pretty well, playing everything laterally, that they hurt us up the middle and gashed us because we were trying to stop the option on every play. They just, in some of those games, they got some momentum, we turned it over and they kept it going. Then we got so far behind…I still thought we had a chance to get back into the game, but you give it away as many times as we did, you don't have much of a chance.
Will you show your players that tape?
Alvarez: No. There's no reason. That's no motivation anymore.
There's been a lot of talk about the blocking of the offensive line. Are you satisfied with their performance right now?
Alvarez: We all can get better. Satisfied? Probably not. We have to get much better.
Last week you sent out an e-mail to the students about watching their behavior during the games. They continued with the cheer this week. Do you have another word for them?
Alvarez: Well, I think if you read the e-mail that I sent, there were a number of things that I talked to them about. Most of the things I talked about was my appreciation of their support and their enthusiasm at a game. That happened to be one sentence in the e-mail. I'll be honest with you, I really didn't hear much of the chants. But I did hear the crowd. I thought our crowd was really into the game, and I appreciate it. I thought they stayed in the game the entire four quarters, and they did what we asked them to do, and that was help our football team. Give our team motivation. That was really the main objective of that whole e-mail. So I appreciate the students. I appreciate their support. There are a lot of places where that student section is empty. I like the fact that they're in there, and that's part of their four-year, five-year or six-year or whatever career they have here, I'm glad that's part of it, that they come to the games and have a good time.
With the number of interceptions that you've had this year, are players just playing the ball better in the air?
Alvarez: I think Ron (Cooper) has really spent a lot of time on teaching them to look back to the ball, zone turning on the ball, making a play on the ball. And consequently, you see less interference calls. We've had some interference, but not nearly as many as we had a year ago because we are looking back to the ball and you can have incidental collision with the receiver as long as you are looking to the ball. When you look back to the ball, good things can happen. But he really has them playing the football much, much better.
Bouncing back from a loss challenges a team's character. How confident are you in this team's character that it can bounce back from this loss?
Alvarez: This team has shown character. They've been put to the test in the fourth quarter where they've had to respond, being behind in the fourth quarter. You know, half of the teams in the country lose every week and have to bounce back. A loss certainly isn't the end of the season. These guys understand, there's a lot of football left. It's another challenge, it's another conference game and I feel confident we'll come out in practice, we'll get a gameplan in today, and there's no reason why we shouldn't.
Do you expect to have Anthony Davis available this weekend?
Alvarez: They just told me he couldn't come in at the end of the game. I saw him walking in the locker room afterwards. I haven't seen him today. Ankles are funny. Some guys come back from them in a day. I don't know. Hopefully…his ankle a week ago was the same way and he ran two days later. So I don't know. I haven't seen him. I'll be anxious to see him running around later today.
What did you see on film from Dwayne Smith, that he was able to step in and produce?
Alvarez: I thought, number one, Dwayne reads things well. He can move a pile, he can run through some things. And I think for a young freshman, he's shown a lot of maturity. First Big Ten game, I thought some guys had big eyes. Dwayne was really excited about playing. One of those corners was a high school teammate of his. I just thought he responded extremely well. I'm real proud of his progress and the maturity he's shown in a short amount of time. He's handled things very well.
What's been the toughest adjustment for these freshmen playing, on the field or off the field?
Alvarez: Well you know, it's a daily thing. It's both. Sometimes off the field carries onto the field, and the long season can affect them. Time management can affect them. They don't have much time. They go to school all day. From 2:30 until usually 9:30 at night, from the time they finish practice, to training table, two hour study hall that night, they get back to the dorms at 9:30-9:45 at night. You know, they're not used to that, and over a while, that will wear on them. Then if they have a little success, people pat them on the back, that can affect them. Then some of them can get homesick. There are just a multitude of things that can affect a freshman, distract him and keep him from being focused. When you have someone that's grounded and handles himself as well as Dwayne, you really feel good about it.
As a group, do you think this whole freshman class has handled it well?
Alvarez: Thus far. We've probably been in school three weeks, this is the first battery of tests. This is when things really start to wear on them now. But some of them have been here since June. Thus far, they've held up pretty well.
You haven't played a road game in six weeks. Any concerns about heading back on the road?
Alvarez: That's really an easy trip. It's an hour trip. We're going to go a little earlier. We're going to change up a little bit. We're going to have our meetings down there instead of here so we can leave earlier. We still want to eat here, and then go down and have meetings there and get to bed early because it's such an early game. But I don't anticipate (any problems). That's a good field to play on, grass field, so I don't anticipate any problems.
What is IU like defensively?
Alvarez: A lot of movement. They'll pick and choose when they want to blitz, but they will blitz. I anticipate we'll see a lot of that. But I think we'll see a lot of eight-man fronts with an awful lot of line movement.
Do you miss the opportunity to game plan for Randle El?
Alvarez: If I never see Randle El again…which I guess I won't. He has a little brother coming up that hopefully we don't have to play against. But you hear me, any time we have a quarterback that's a combination quarterback, I think that gives defensive coaches a lot of problems. That's the toughest thing to defense against. And he was the best. I can't think of anybody else…you have a combination quarterback that can do as many things with the ball in his hands, and still be able to hurt you throwing the ball. So no, I don't miss him one bit. He's really a neat kid. I've had the chance on several occasions to spend time with him, and he would have been fun to coach.
You mentioned some of the freshmen had big eyes. Was that a factor against Penn State, especially in the first quarter?
Alvarez: I didn't say freshmen, some players. Yeah we had one of two, a couple of guys. That didn't have anything to do with how we played. We did okay. Offensively, we only had four possessions in the first half. Our third-down conversions were good. The only thing offensively we have to correct is minus-yardage plays. Defensively, we just didn't play well. We may have overemphasized some things like the screen play that kept us from doing some other things well. But I don't think that had anything to do with how our team played. A couple of guys didn't influence the performance of the team.
Monday Press Conference: Barry Alvarez Verbatim
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