Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - September 20, 2012

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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Team, league working to find their way BEHIND THE DESK BARRY ALVAREZ • UW DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS I agreed with what our commis- sioner, Jim Delany, said the other day. You'd like to build a case for the Big Ten, but the facts speak for themselves. You try to set up big games and, if you don't win big games, you become fair game. We don't have a school ranked in the top 15 of the USA Today Coach- es Poll for the first time in 11 years. I know the commissioner doesn't buy into football being cyclical. But I do. For the longest time, the Big Ten could not beat the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl. Woody and Bo tried everything imaginable, but they couldn't beat those teams. Then, we had a stretch where we had a string of wins against the Pac-10. Right now, they've gotten the upper hand. Oregon is as strong as any program in the country. I like the way Jim Harbaugh built that Stanford program before leaving for the NFL. Stanford is built on toughness, and their offen- sive is very similar to ours and what we try to do. I wasn't really surprised when they out-toughed USC last Satur- day. A lot of times it's about the matchup. A lot of times somebody is not ready to play. For obvious reasons, I'm root- ing hard for Paul Chryst and Pitts- burgh. But I watched them play Cincinnati, and they made mistake after mistake. Then, they turned around and 12 » VARSITY SEPTEMBER 20, 2012 beat Virginia Tech and looked like a totally different team. That's the neat thing about col- lege football. Pitt stuck with it, and I relate that to us. I sense that we'll do the same thing. Last week, our offensive line was starting anew with another coach. They had two days of hard work, Tuesday and Wednesday. How much better can you get in that time? How efficient can you be without many reps? That's the thing. It's going to take awhile to get the O-line in synch. And you'll see it when it hap- pens; you'll notice it. After studying the Utah State film, Bret was saying there were probably 20 plays where they did the things the way they were sup- pose to do them. They got off the ball and so on and so forth. But now, you've got running backs guessing at times because they don't have the confidence where the blocks are coming from. There were plays that were blocked for big hits we didn't get. You just have to stick with it, and get better. That's what we did in '99 after we lost back-to-back games. We got "homered'' at Cincinnati, one of the biggest homer jobs I've ever been around in my life. Then we played a very good Michigan team and played them well. We dropped a pass in the end zone and we came up short. But we were a good team. We just couldn't lose confidence. That was the important thing. We had good leadership, captains like Chris McIntosh, who weren't going to let the thing slip. Once we got the ball rolling, we really got it rolling. I just kept telling the players we're a good team and we'll get this stuff figured out. And we did. I'm confident that will happen this year. This team will get better. We have the potential. If the O-line comes around, we can establish a running game and that takes the heat off everyone. It just makes the rest of it easier.

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