Barry Alvarez Verbatim - Monday Press Conference

Coach Barry Alvarez met with the media for his Monday press conference. Topics included the breakdowns that led to the loss at Indiana, whether his team will reassess its goals, Lee Evans, UW's 2-7 Big Ten home record over the past three seasons and much more. Here is what he had to say, verbatim.

There have been a few cases here in recent years where you've gotten off to a strong start in the non-conference season, and a slow start in the Big Ten. What can the coaching staff do to help protect against players expecting bad things to happen?

Alvarez: I think the natural thing is, players take a coach's lead. It's our responsibility to be positive, build on the positive, correct the mistakes. We've got veteran coaches. We have good leaders. Our old players are good leaders. Most of them have been through seasons like this. And the young players are willing souls. It all comes back on our shoulders. You have a difficult defeat, you have to cut it loose, let go of it, move forward and get on the next game and get full concentration on the next game as soon as you possibly can.

Are your players making the same mistakes they were making in some of those non-conference games?

Alvarez: I really felt at the end of our five (non-conference) games, I thought we played very well in all three phases against Arizona. I anticipated with the week off, that we would take the next step. I can't say we're making the same mistakes. I mean, our competition, particularly with Penn State, was much better. Some of the things that concern me…we're not making adjustments on the field in anticipation, seeing things, what people are trying to do, and when they repeat it, being able to respond to it. I think some of that might be youth, new people in positions, and that's our job. We have to make them aware of that so someone can anticipate a little bit better what people are trying to do. And once they've done it, react to it, expect it.

Is that more on the defensive side of the ball than offense?

Alvarez: I think offensively, penalties hurt us. We haven't gotten big plays like we did a year ago. We need to find ways to get big plays. Defensively, I think most of that is with new players.

Were the defensive problems in the fourth quarter against Indiana similar to what happened last year?

Alvarez: No.

What is the difference?

Alvarez: Just what I said. We made some decisions. I'm not talking about coaching decisions…decisions on the field weren't the same. It's a totally different outfit. Guys didn't anticipate. When you're seeing the same thing over and over again, you have to adjust sooner or later. You have to know what those people are trying to do and then you have to make a play. We were in a position and didn't finalize it. That's what we did so well early in the year. That was an emphasis, get off the field on third down. And quite frankly, we didn't. The loss, and some of that play overshadowed the excellent play we had by our defensive line. They played as good as they could play. They kept pressure on the quarterback, had some sacks in that last drive. I think we had two or three sacks in that drive. I thought those guys really played well. And I hate…you lose sight of that.

Do you have a different perception of how good this team can be after that game?

Alvarez: I just know we have a lot of work to do. I want to get back to playing like we were playing earlier. I thought we made progress every week, I thought the Arizona game we played very well. Just the tempo that we played and the confidence that we played with. And I'm talking primarily on defense. I didn't see that these last two weeks. Hopefully we can get that rectified and we can move forward. When you have young guys, you hope they can continue to improve.

What's the most impressive thing about Maurice Clarett?

Alvarez: The fact that he can take a game over, and he's physical and mature enough, and he has enough ability as a true freshman, you see where he takes games over. I've been asked about four different times to compare him to Ron (Dayne). They are totally different styles of runners, yet both of them can do that. Ron did that from the middle of his freshman year on, where he had a stretch of about five games that were just unbelievable. And Clarett has started his career off that way.

They might be different styles, but can they have a similar effect on their respective programs?

Alvarez: I don't think there's any question. Certainly, you know how much effect he had on our program. With the talent that they have at Ohio State, for a freshman to come in and be as effective and jump out at you, and carry a game. You see particularly a couple of the early games, where he took them over. I definitely think he can affect a program, much like Ron did.

There is a lot of talent on this OSU team besides Clarett though.

Alvarez: No, that's not a one-man outfit. Really, their defense is very good. (Mike) Doss is everything that he's billed to be. He's what you would draw up as a safety. The linebacker is one of the better ones that I've seen in a long time. Offensively, the quarterback is much improved. A lot of weapons, a typical Ohio State offensive line, big physical. And they've got depth at running back. We've seen some of those other guys. We know how good they are. So they're not a one-man show by any stretch of the imagination.

You mentioned that this team is not getting any big plays. Where does this team have to improve to get those? Running game or passing game?

Alvarez: Both. In the running game we're going to have to block downfield better. I think we got our running back into the secondary four or five times last week. We have to get a block on a defensive back without holding. That's something that we've always done well. It might be because of the immaturity, lack of strength in some of the young receivers. I'm not sure of that. But that's one way. Instead of a 15 or 20-yard run, you have a 60-yard run.

Were those holding calls on the receivers pretty legit?

Alvarez: I thought the one in front of us was pretty legitimate. Although I see it not being called just as often as it's called. But we'll take it. I mean there's nothing we can do about it.

It looked like you were talking with the officials about those two halo-violation penalties. What was the discussion there?

Alvarez: The rule is made to protect the returner. It's a two-yard halo. If the guy holding up our sprinter is between him and the returner, it's hard to be within two yards. It's nearly impossible to be within two yards. And we were flagged on that twice. I'd like to see anybody…I'd like to measure that. I'd like to stop it and show everyone. It really was a very simple, easy call. That's what I was trying to…I couldn't quite understand why we were getting that call. I didn't see it.

What was the response from the official?

Alvarez: He thought he was in the halo.

A lot of coaches say they have to worry about their own team and not their opponent. Do you feel you have to do that, especially this week coming off two losses, and Ohio State coming in here?

Alvarez: That's really what we always do. I don't think you've ever heard me talk about worrying whether someone can do this or do that. All you can control is your own team, and try to make sure that you get them prepared and have a good game plan for them, and try to get them to play as well as they possibly can. That's all we can do.

You are 2-7 in your last nine home Big Ten games. Is there anything to assess there, what's going on?

Alvarez: No.

At some point, do you have to at least entertain the possibility of Lee Evans redshirting?

Alvarez: That's not my decision…I haven't talked with Lee about that.

As a team do you readjust your goals, in terms of your thinking on the Big Ten championship?

Alvarez: I'll talk to the team today about that. I never announced that a Big Ten championship was a goal. But I will reassess our goals. I normally do that about midway through the season. I'll sit down and talk to them about that.

Do you know what you're going to tell them?

Alvarez: Yes.

Do you want to share it with us?

Alvarez: No I don't.

Will you go back to junior colleges to recruit more players, after the success you've had with Alex Lewis and Scott Campbell?

Alvarez: Well if I could find the right junior college player who we could get admitted, I would certainly consider it. That's the hardest part. Number one, you have to recruit them, you have to identify them, and then our university has to admit all of their credits and that's where we've run into a lot of problems. There are a number of different courses that our school will not admit. But we'll take a look, and if there's somebody that fits our needs that we feel can qualify, than we'll recruit them.

Are you happy with the success of those two this season?

Alvarez: We've gotten a lot out of both of them. We've gotten mileage out of both of them, and I said early on, you hope for them to be contributors and both of them certainly have.

Were the problems covering passes by the linebackers a result of Jeff Mack's injury?

Alvarez: Well you replace a guy that's been a two-year starter with someone that's a walk-on that's starting his first game. I would anticipate there's going to be a drop-off there. There's some youth, and lack of experience is another factor.

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