Illinois Postgame: Barry Alvarez Verbatim

Here is what Coach Barry Alvarez had to say after Wisconsin's 37-20 loss against Illinois Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall, verbatim:

Well, we didn't play good in any phase. We couldn't get anything going offensively, couldn't throw it and catch it consistently. We had one drive where we ran the ball well but other than that we weren't consistent running the ball. Defensively, this is the first team that ran the ball consistently on us, were able to consistently get good gains. Our defense…the one bright spot, our defense gave us some chances with turnovers to stay in the game, and in many cases we didn't take advantage of them like we could have. But it's not a very good performance in any phase. I'll answer some questions for you.

Do you attribute any of it to what went on earlier this week?

Alvarez: I don't even want to get into psycho-analyzing.

Did your guys play hard?

Alvarez: I didn't think they quit. I didn't think anyone quit. They really just didn't play well. I just don't think it was a clean game.

Can you put into words just how tough this week has been for you?

Alvarez: Yeah…obviously it's tough. It's difficult when those things happen, especially when they happen to good kids and you're trying to prepare short-handed. That's never easy, but it's part of the business.

What were some of the breakdowns that led to the big passing touchdowns?

Alvarez: Well I thought when the guy caught the ball over everyone's head, above them, he put himself in good position. There are a lot of tall receivers, but I have to give him credit. He did a good job with the leverage, and the quarterback threw the ball…I didn't see any breakdowns. I didn't see anybody running free.

Could you get an angle on the 36-yard Greg Lewis touchdown late in the first quarter?

Alvarez: I understand that it was…the replay showed that he was way out. I'm a long way away, so I didn't see it, but I understood that…I felt, and the kids felt that he was way out of bounds.

You forced a lot of turnovers but do you feel like you have to take advantage of those a lot more?

Alvarez: Absolutely.

Did that touchdown right before halftime kind of take the wind out of your sails?

Alvarez: Well we came right back out and got two turnovers. We took a chance just inside the 40-yard line and tried to get some points ourselves and get some momentum before the half. It ended up backfiring on us but we came out in the second half and got a turnover on the first play, didn't take advantage of it, then got another turnover and got a touchdown out of it. I can't say that…you don't like for that to happen just before the half, but I didn't think that…we got the momentum back.

It looked like you guys changed your mind on that play. Didn't you first have your punt team out there before calling a timeout and going for it?

Alvarez: Yeah, I initially punted it, and the offensive coaches said they had a play, the defensive coaches said they felt comfortable with it. So I said `Let's think about it and let's make sure we have the right people in, the right call, and we feel good about it.' Is part of that just making a statement that you have confidence in your team?

Alvarez: Yes.

It looked like Jim Sorgi was clutching his arm at the end of the game.

Alvarez: Jim hurt his hand again, couldn't grip the ball at the end. That's why Owen (Daniels) went in at the end.

It looked like Jim was a little off all day. Was that because of the hand injury?

Alvarez: I don't know. I don't know whether he wasn't gripping it well, but I know Jim has thrown the ball a lot better than that before.

How frustrating is it that with two games left, this team is still not bowl eligible?

Alvarez: I have a lot of other things that…you know what? We're still alive. We have a chance to be bowl eligible. We still have some things to play for. My main concern right now is to make sure to patch my team up and make sure our team plays better.

Was Donovan starting today at guard because of an injury or because of his past performance?

Alvarez: I think (Jonathan) Clinkscale hurt his ankle again.

How about Dwayne Smith's performance?

Alvarez: Dwayne did some good things. Especially that one drive. I thought he moved the pile. He finally found some things. He didn't have much opportunity in the second half but I thought he did some good things for young kid.

Was Anttaj Hawthorne jumping offsides on the 4th-and-1 kind of hard to swallow the way this day went?

Alvarez: Yeah, we just told our guys, that's what we anticipated that they would try to do.

Was Brooks Bollinger close at all to going today?

Alvarez: No. They recommended that he not (play). They made that decision in the middle of the week.

Is this team regressing?

Alvarez: I don't know.

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