Sept. 1, 2012
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Illinois 24, Western Michigan 7
Memorial Stadium // Sept. 1, 2012 // Attendance: 43,441
Illinois Head Coach Tim Beckman
"Well, I'll just start off by saying that I'm not wet because of the weather, of course. When we win football games, if you've been in our locker room before, we take that I and we don't let anyone walk on that I until you've won a victory. So we celebrated as a football team, like you're supposed to after each victory, because each victory is huge in the game of football. You get, at the most, 14 opportunities.
"I'm very proud of the way the kids came out. Some kids had to respond, maybe somebody getting dinged up or somebody not capable of playing. As I told the football team, Mike Thomas was gracious enough to give me the game ball, but this is not my game ball. This is this team's game ball, so that game ball will sit right there and then (we will) get it framed. This is the first victory of the new era."
On the defense:
"We're happy with the way they played. I think Coach Banks and Coach Ward and Coach Clinkscale and Coach Gilmore devised a great game plan. We let some of our players play. You know, when you're not playing with Steve Hull and Supo Sanni, with their starts that they've had in Big Ten football, Pat Nixon(-Youman) and Earnest Thomas stepped their games up."
On Ashante Williams' interception return for a touchdown:
"It was huge, there's no question. Because you know how the game was going - you were there, you understand it - the momentum kind of swung to our side after that pick. Ashante has had a great, great eight months. It's not just about at camp, its not just about winter workouts or spring football. He has been providing leadership for the last eight months that I've been here. And it did not surprise me that he made that play."
On Nathan Scheelhaase's injury:
"It was his ankle and we'll continue to evaluate, but you all know Nathan Scheelhaase and Nathan Scheelhaase will do whatever he can to make sure he is prepared and ready for next week."
On the opening TD pass:
"We expected a little bit of 3-3, what they were playing, because that's what they did to us last year when I was at Toledo. It was a great call by Coach Beatty, and we saw that that was something they were going to do, so we tried to strike up the band early."
On Michael Buchanan:
"I was happy for Michael. Michael really is a professional football player; there is no question about it. He's just topped how good you can be, in my opinion. I've been around some great defenses in my life and Michael Buchanan can be an extremely good football player."
Illinois Player Quotes
STAR Ashante Williams
On how the preseason led into today's performance on the field:
"Basically, we have been grinding. This has been the hardest camp I have ever participated in since I have been here in my five years. The new approach that Coach is bringing in, everyone is buying in and like he said, our attitudes started in practice. He wanted us all to hustle on and off the field and I have been taking whatever he said to heart and lead by example. I try to be the first person on the field, first person off the field, hustling every drill and not giving up and quitting. "
On the interception:
"I have been studying and watching a lot of film, probably around 10 hours of film. I knew those routes were coming so I kind of baited him to throw the ball and played outside with a little deeper coverage and when he threw it I just saw it and went."
On the momentum shift after the interception:
"It was key. The coaches came up right before that drive and said this was a key drive in the game. They had just scored in the series before that and if they had scored again, the momentum would have shifted onto their side. I was trying to just make the play. I saw my opportunity and capitalized on it."
DE Michael Buchanan
On the game:
"We were able to create a lot of turnovers which is big and is one of the things we have wanted to change. One of the things that Coach Beckman always talks about is getting turnovers and feeding the monster and I think we did a pretty good job with that. We had three picks and a forced fumble, so I think we had a pretty good day."
On his interception:
"I got my first pick today. I read the quarterback's eyes and was able to tip it. Luckily, I was close enough to be able to catch it. "
On getting the season-opening win:
"It was great. We wanted to do it for Coach Beckman. You know all the guys in the locker room love him. We really feel like he is bringing in a new era. We wanted to get it for him; you know he was given the team ball and it feels really great to get this first win."
On the mood in the locker room:
"Oh it was great. The guys you know, whenever you get a win, they're going to be happy but one thing we do know is we have a lot to improve on. Coming out the second half, we came out a little flat and that is something we have to improve on. The leaders like myself, we have to keep the team up and we can't let up at all."
On Scheelhaase going down and how the defense responded:
"We got fired up on the sideline and said we have to make a play. Ashante Williams, number 25, he made a great play and that kind of sealed it. That was one of the things, when we knew our leader was down, we knew the defense had to step up and make a play. Ashante made that play."
WR Ryan Lankford
On getting the win in Coach Beckman's first game:
"It's definitely big, it gives us a lot of momentum. Going into next week, guys feel like we have something here that we can go with."
On their concerns going into the game:
"We didn't really have any. We come in every day at practice and work hard and do what we need to do. Game time is where we go ahead and perform and show what we do at practice."
Western Michigan Head Coach Bill Cubit
"I thought defensively, (we) flew around really well. I thought they played with a lot more maturity than our offense did this game. I thought there were some really good things there. I don't know how good the Illinois offense is, I have no idea, but I do know our kids went out there and played hard. I was happy with that. Our special teams, with two young kickers, that needs a little bit of improvement. We understand that. We'll get that thing taken care of. Offensively was probably the biggest disappointment; that we just didn't execute at all. We just played really poorly. "
On where they go from here:
"The good news is that I don't think we could've played any worse, so it's gotta be up from there. You know, I thought we found a couple guys. Jaime Wilson, right now, is our best receiver out there. I thought Justin Collins went out there and I thought for the most part, he played well. We were just disappointed in some other areas, so we found out something about ourselves and we'll get ourselves better. We've just gotta get our other wideouts up to par. I think we've gotta run the ball better, a lot better. And we've gotta hold onto the ball. When you look at it, we drop one touchdown pass, we fumble another one when we're going down there. You just gotta go out there and fix the thing there."
On WMU's defense:
"We've got some areas of concern, we understand that. But if our defense can continually play at that level, I know our offense is gonna get a lot better, so then we've got a chance and you play the game a little bit differently. Before, last year, we had to score on every possession; that's how we felt on offense. But I didn't feel that today. Now you can start playing the game with a little field position. You understand `okay, don't take too many risks' and I think that's gonna be a little bit of an adjustment on offense. And I think the other thing is, we've gotta make plays."
Western Michigan Postgame Player Quotes
QB Alex Carder
On adjusting to having all new receivers this season:
"You can practice as much as you want but game speed is a whole different ball game. As much as I would like to say what happened today was because of the lack of experience of the receiver position, that's just not the truth. I have confidence in my guys. I played probably one of the worst games of my career. I had a lot of mental mistakes. A lot of stuff that was really uncharacteristic. I let my team down in a lot of ways. That is something that I have to fix."
On how the Western Michigan defense played:
"I think that's one of the things that makes the loss so difficult, to know that the other side played so well. They really kept us in the game and gave us a shot. To not take advantage of it is inexcusable. Especially for an offense (like us) that has been so highly touted in the past. All I can do for my team at this point is promise improvement. I trust them and they trust me right back. Like Coach (Cubit) said, we learned a lot about ourselves today. We learned where we have to improve."
On throwing three interceptions:
"I just made some bad decisions out there. They didn't throw too many different things at me, I just wasn't reading my keys correctly and that's how interceptions happen. I wasn't being careful with the ball. I got lucky on a couple of throws. I should have had more interceptions. All I can take from this is that I have to get better."
S Donald Celiscar
On the defense's effort today:
"Today we came out and we played hard. Extremely hard. We gave up a couple of big plays at the beginning but everybody still played hard. Everybody did their jobs. That big play at the beginning was on me. I missed that assignment. I was supposed to get back. It was on me."
On how fatigued the defense was:
"We were hyped up and ready to go. We were excited. We wanted to get our defense off the field and get our offense as many chances as we could."
On his interception in the third quarter:
"We were playing man coverage. I was playing tight man coverage and I saw the ball and I tried to keep my feet in bounds. It felt good."
ROV Johnnie Simon
On their defense's effort today:
"I wouldn't say we were satisfied. We forced a couple three-and-outs and one turnover. I feel like we should have gotten more turnovers to help the offense. Our goal is to get at least three turnovers per game. If we could have gotten a few more, it would have changed the game a lot. I thought we played a (heck) of a game though."
On the struggles of the offense:
"I told Alex (Carder) that we are a team. You know we win together and we lose together. We don't blame one side of the ball; it's a team effort. We just have to get ready and play better next game."
On WMU's offensive struggles:
"We just looked really out of sync. Alex has been out seven days with that strain. I think we probably just did a little bit too much in terms of we were really concerned with the pass rush, you know, keeping them off balance, and throwing them off a little. But still, there were a lot of plays in there where we didn't make `em. Whether is was dropped passes, being in the wrong spot and I'm sure Alex will tell you, you know it wasn't one of his better games, but we'll be fine."