Well certainly I'm pleased to come in here and get a win on the road. Night games can be very difficult. I thought our guys really handled it well. We emphasized all week we wanted to start fast. We did that, although we gave away a tremendous opportunity early. But I really thought our guys started fast, really set the tempo for the game. I really like the fact that we took advantage of good field position with 40-some seconds left in the half. We were able to go down and take advantage of that. That really gave us a lot of momentum going into halftime. But I give Michigan State credit. They continue to answer. And if our offense didn't…our offense was able to come back and answer them, but I thought they competed very hard. But I'm happy for our kids. We needed that win.
How impressive was Brooks Bollinger tonight?
Alvarez: I really thought he was crisp. He came back mid-week and was very crisp mid-week. He saw everything. There were three (dropped TD passes in the first half). I think (Jonathan Orr) was behind everybody and the ball went through his hands, Brandon (Williams) had one go through his hands in the end zone, and the tight end had one bounce off him. So he had three others that could have been scores. But he was extremely sharp today.
A lot has been made about your offensive line giving up sacks this season. They only gave up one tonight and protected him well.
Alvarez: Yeah, we had good protection. He checked out…he anticipated some of the blitzes. That last touchdown, he recognized blitz and got rid of the ball. The receivers did a nice job of adjusting. And we changed up, we max protected sometimes. But we were able to protect because we were able to establish a running game. We were able to establish a good running game, and kind of threw when we wanted to.
How much was that a focus coming in, to establish that running game?
Alvarez: Well you know last week it was important. That was something we wanted to do, and that felt we wanted to do it here, and so it was a major part of our offense coming in.
Can you talk about the job your secondary did against Charles Rogers?
Alvarez: Well, you know, he still made some plays. We gave him special attention, whether we had somebody doubled up on him…we doubled him just about every play, and when you do that, you take one other guy out of the scheme and that's why we were a little soft against the run. But we just felt that he was so dangerous, he's such an outstanding receiver, that we had to try to do something special to try to contain him. And he still made a couple of plays.
Did Scott Starks get a little banged up in there?
Alvarez: He got kicked. He's got a hip pointer.
How about Jim Sorgi?
Alvarez: Sorgi, we thought he broke his arm, but it's a bruise. He couldn't grip anything. He got a helmet right on his forearm, on the bone. He was not available in the game. Hopefully we'll get him back next week.
Can you talk about the game Ryan Aiello had?
Alvarez: He had a lot of tackles. Ryan is a good tackler, and we play him at free safety where he's close to the line of scrimmage. But I thought he was involved an awful lot. With what they were doing, the free safety better be involved an awful lot.
Last week you said you were pleased with how you played against Ohio State. Can you kind of erase that now? This game looked like your best game of the season.
Alvarez: Well I thought we played well last week. We didn't win, and I'm not satisfied when…you go out to win a game. I wanted to pick up where we left off. I thought other than getting sloppy with some down-the-liners, I didn't think we were particularly crisp on defense in the second half, yet I thought our kids played well. They picked up where they left off last week. They played a good football team, we played them well last week, and I thought they picked up right where they left off last week and I'm really pleased by their performance.
How much did the strategy change when you found out that Smoker was suspended and Dowdell was starting?
Alvarez: We went back and took a look at every play, every snap that he did. We wanted to see what kind of quarterback he was, whether the offense changed when he was in there. What we found is that it didn't change, although he's more apt to pulling the ball down and run, which he did several times today effectively. But we could see that the offense wasn't going to change any, so it didn't our gameplan at all.
With all the turmoil here, what did you expect out of Michigan State?
Alvarez: Well you know what, I learned a long time ago, I try to worry about things I can control. And that had nothing to do with us, and we knew nothing about it other than Smoker wasn't going to play. I was just concerned about our guys ready to play and they were. If you start to try figuring out the mental presence of your opponent, then you're in trouble. You better be worried about your own guys.
What does this do for your own mental presence?
Alvarez: Winning's good for the soul.
Darrin Charles had some big third-down catches today and seemed to play well.
Alvarez: Yeah, Darrin had a good game. Darrin made some plays today, I thought it was a big play on third down late in the game, we're trying to answer. And just before the half, he had a big reception to help set up that touchdown, drew that interference call. I thought Darrin had some good plays.
Nice to have him back healthy?
Alvarez: Yeah it's nice to have him healthy. I hope next week we can have (Bob) Docherty come back and join us. He's pretty close but he wasn't 100 percent.
What were some of the early problems with drops from the receivers?
Alvarez: Guys complained, they couldn't find the ball. When they looked back into the lights, they were losing the ball. We didn't even slow it down, it went through our hands a couple of times.
Is that what happened on those few early drops?
Alvarez: Yes, Jonathan's and Darrin also. That one, Darrin looked back, if you remember he didn't even slow down. It was a good underthrow, one of the ones you'd like for him to come back for it, but he didn't even see the ball.
Will your guys relish the challenge of meeting unbeaten Iowa on the road?
Alvarez: Well that's our next opponent. And I think our guys, you look forward to who you have to play. They're a good football team. I had a chance to watch them today. I thought they were, if not the best team, one of the better teams in the league a year ago. They are very talented and we certainly have our work cut out for us.
Michigan State Postgame: Barry Alvarez Verbatim
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