Monday Press Conference: Barry Alvarez Verbatim

Coach Barry Alvarez speaks to the media, with comments on the Lee Evans and Anthony Davis situations, Brooks Bollinger's status, the Illinois game and much more. Here is what Alvarez had to say, verbatim:

First of all, Anthony (Davis) was released from the hospital this morning. I haven't had a chance to see him yet. Denny Helwig has visited with him. Physically he feels much better. We'll know a little bit more about where he is today or tomorrow. I'll have a chance to see him this afternoon. We will test Brooks (Bollinger) again. He was tested yesterday. He will be tested again tomorrow to see where he is. He told me yesterday he felt better than he did two weeks ago when he had the similar test. So we'll know where he is right around practice time tomorrow, then we'll move forward.

Did Anthony require any type of surgery?

Alvarez: No, Anthony had some stitches. He had to have a wound cleaned out, much like a puncture wound. Then he stayed in. He had an IV with some antibiotics overnight, to make sure of no infection.

How large was the cut?

Alvarez: I think the cut was like a half-inch puncture wound.

Back to the weekend, was it a departure from past team practice for a captain to travel separate from the team, as it relates to Lee Evans?

Alvarez: Lee wasn't on the travel squad. We have a limited number that we can take on the travel squad, and we decided that we would take the guys that could play.

Had he traveled previously?

Alvarez: He has traveled previously…We do play Illinois, by the way, Saturday.

Did you get any indication from Anthony that he hopes to play this weekend?

Alvarez: I didn't even get that far. I was more concerned and still am more concerned for his health right now. Particularly yesterday.

You mentioned a test for Brooks. What is that test?

Alvarez: I'll let you visit with Denny Helwig or Dr. (Ben) Graf about that. There are some mental tests that they an have, rather than just guessing whether you have a headache or not. If there had been a previous concussion involved, if there is a head injury, they have some data now where they can have some readings and know exactly where they are, rather than just guessing.

Do you have to be more cautious with Brooks, with him having yet another concussion?

Alvarez: I don't think anyone has said this was another concussion.

Jim Sorgi said it was after the game.

Alvarez: I didn't know Jim was qualified.

Do you have a sense of the risk factor with Anthony's wound? Was this an extremely close call?

Alvarez: I was told that the puncture was very close to an artery which would have been very, very serious.

With the game coming up, are you worried about this stuff being a distraction?

Alvarez: Well that's our job as coaches. The thing you want to do is, address, anytime you have a…we try to address things immediately, get them out of the way so our players can concentrate on what they have to concentrate on and be focused for the football game. Unfortunately when you have 120 people, occasionally you're going to have some incidents. And I want to say this again. There are two guys that have been model citizens, and guys that have not given anyone a bit of problems. Those are Lee and Anthony, but occasionally, much like many families, you have incidents. You deal with them and you move on. That's the only thing I know. We talk to our players and make sure they know what's happening, what has happened, how we'll address it. Now let's move on to football. Let's concentrate on football. We're going at it, jumping in with both feet. This is an important football game for us, and that will be our focus.

You are certainly not alone with these incidents, with other things happening across college football, such as Michigan State and Iowa. Do you get the feeling that the situation is worse than ever before?

Alvarez: No, I just think with the media access as it is, when it happens, everybody within 30 seconds, everybody in the country knows about it. I know when I played or even probably in the 80's, an incident happens at a college, maybe it hits the wire service, maybe it hits the local paper, but it isn't on the internet, it isn't on TV, it isn't covered as it is today. But I certainly don't think there's anything different now than there was 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago.

With Lee's arrest, how does that factor into his decision making as to whether to return to the program or go to the NFL?

Alvarez: I don't know that. I don't know that.

When you get a call as a coach, that something like this happens, what is your first reaction, and what is your reaction when it happens to other coaches across the country?

Alvarez: You know, I hate when it happens to anyone. Some of the incidents that went on at Michigan State, just because we were playing them, we were aware of all of them. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. The thing that I've learned, I've been in this long enough, it happens. When it happens, first of all you want to know if anyone's hurt, you try to find out the circumstances, and then try to deal with it. But then again, I think people are quick to judge. I've learned over the years you try to find out all the facts. If the courts are involved, you let the legal process handle it then make decisions, and don't be quick to judge. I think all you have to do is look back at Joe Paterno's situation with Rashon Casey and all the criticism he had, from all the way through the summer and through the season. And then the case was thrown out of court. And that's just one instance. But I just think everyone is quick to judge, and I've learned over the years that you better sit back and take a look at the facts and then make decisions.

You've had quite a few incidents over the last couple of years, dating back to Nick Davis, Dontez Sanders, Eric Bickerstaff. Have the numbers been a concern…

Alvarez: I don't think we've had that many. I would guess that there are a number of altercations downtown every week. We saw a riot this weekend. My guys are going to be in those, a lot of college students are going to be involved in those. My guys are going to do some things wrong occasionally. But to say, do I think we have a large number? No.

You bring a police officer to your camp every year. Is there much more you can do to prevent these things?

Alvarez: I don't know if anyone can supervise their players or try to inform their players any better than us. I don't know what else you can do. We can't babysit them. Many of these guys are 21 years old. They're adults. Things are going to happen. We'll deal with them. I don't want this to be painted as though we've had an overabundance of them, because I don't believe we have. You named about four or five, and you dug for about two years to get those.

This weekend must have been very difficult on you emotionally.

Alvarez: Yeah, it's not easy. You know, losing is hard enough. But again, you just deal with it. It's not easy. I'm not going to sit up here and act callous that you just roll with the punches and go with it. But when you've been in it long enough, you know what happens, and you have to deal with it and move forward. We have a game Saturday.

Have you dealt with a situation like Anthony's before, where a player was a victim of a violent attack like that?

Alvarez: I can't remember. I can't remember of any.

Sounds like Illinois is going back to (Jon) Beutjer at quarterback. Can you talk about him?

Alvarez: You know, as I watched the two quarterbacks I think they're pretty similar. Both big, tall guys, strong-armed pocket passers. I would guess we'll prepare for both, and I anticipate we'll see both.

Last year their defense put a lot of pressure on people with sacks, and pressure. They haven't been as successful this year. What have you seen there?

Alvarez: I see the same thing, yet I see people getting plays. People are hitting big plays on them, going against their blitz. Sometimes when you blitz, you're rolling the dice because you're in zero coverage or zone blitz in the back. You have some holes in the background. You might hit a play for no yardage or minus yardage, but if they pop the line of scrimmage it might be a home run. And that's the chance you take when you use that type of defense. But it's a veteran group. The majority of that group all played last year. They should know that defense. I look at that football team, a lot of those guys were starters last year so they are a very dangerous team.

You mentioned how you regretted leaving Scott Starks on an island last year against Charles Rogers and Michigan State. Did you do anything last year against Illinois' receivers that in hindsight you are regretting? Alvarez: Well we blitzed, we tried to get pressure on (Kurt) Kittner. When you do that, you're 1-on-1, and he threw some balls I don't know how many guys can throw. They made some great throws and catches at people all over, on the boundary and everything else. So that's something you have to decide. We decided to pressure him rather than let him have a lot of time and he still hurt us.

They've flip-flopped quarterbacks, yet they've thrown for a lot of yards. Do you see a team that's struggled in the passing game?

Alvarez: They're not throwing it as well as a year ago, but I don't know how many teams would. They have a good scheme, they know where to go with the ball. And they're veterans. Those two receivers are really good. They throw well out of the backfield, they have a control passing game, as well as throwing it down the field. So they know how to move the football.

Do you feel Alex Lewis took a huge jump this week?

Alvarez: I thought he played exceptional. I thought he jumped out at you when you watched that game. It looked like he felt comfortable in there. There are still some things he can clean up, yet I think he's starting to understand the position. Hopefully you'll see a little improvement every week. But I really like what I saw. He was physical, he was quick and he was around the ball all the time.

Is the Mike spot a better position for him than eagle linebacker?

Alvarez: It's a better position because he doesn't have to worry about the coverages near as much. He's not worried about playing out in space. He's in there where the action is, and for the most part, we're taking him to the flow of the ball.

How did Donovan Raiola look?

Alvarez: You know, he held up. I don't think any of us blocked them very well, but I thought Donovan for his first start did okay. We didn't get a whole lot of movement on their defensive front.

Is he still on track at center, or is guard a possibility?

Alvarez: He likes center, and with Al (Johnson) leaving next year, I would say he has first shot at that center spot. That's why we recruited him, and I would anticipate that's where he will go.

Do you think you can keep your tradition of great centers going?

Alvarez: I think so. I really like him. I think he brings some toughness and personality to the position and I think he's just starting to scratch the surface. I really think he has the chance to be outstanding.

If Anthony Davis can't go, is it too late to take a redshirt off Booker Stanley?

Alvarez: That's something we've talked about. We'll get him some reps. If we have to use him, we have to use him. There are three games left, and they're important games. Our focus is to get bowl eligible.

There were some breakdowns in the secondary Saturday. Are you pleased overall with that unit, or do you need to see some better tackling back there?

Alvarez: I always like to see us tackle a little better, take better angles. I don't know if I'll ever be satisfied with that, other than when (Jason) Doering was here.

You won't be finishing that high in the conference this year, but do you feel like you still have a shot at a pretty good bowl game?

Alvarez: If we get bowl eligible, I think we'll get a bowl eligible. We'll take one step…let's get eligible first, then we'll talk about a nice bowl.

Do you talk about that? Is that a rallying point?

Alvarez: Absolutely.

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