Postgame Quotes - Illinois 33, Arkansas State 15

Justin Staples and Trulon Henry celebrate after Illinois' 33-15 win over Arkansas State.
Justin Staples and Trulon Henry celebrate after Illinois' 33-15 win over Arkansas State.

Sept. 3, 2011

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Illinois 33, Arkansas State 15
Memorial Stadium // Sept. 3, 2011 // 45,154

Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook Postgame Quotes
Opening statement:

"We got one down and there were some things that weren't quite as pretty as you'd like them to be, but I think overall, as I told our football team, it's probably exactly where you want to be. The one thing with the attitude of this team and the way they work, we'll get a lot better and I think everyone knows you make your most progress in terms of getting better between your first and second (or) third games, and there's no question in my mind that we'll get a lot better."

On Arkansas State:
"I tell everyone, `that's a pretty good football team,' a lot better than what people thought. It's because you don't know a lot about them and I think if you go back two years ago, they played Iowa to a three-point loss, last year they played Indiana to a two-point loss. Their quarterback is a really good player with their receivers and I think he did a really nice job. I was really proud of our defense; I thought our defense really played well - particularly in the red zone, they played well. They gave up a couple plays there, but sometimes you've gotta maintain that intensity and that's something we have to learn."

On Scheelhaase's progression as a thrower:
"I think you're going to see as the weeks progress that he's way ahead of where he was. I think you saw his accuracy. He threw a couple of nice long balls; the one ball was a little short (the first pass of the second half), but he's a guy that there's no question he can do it and I think running the football is gonna help him throw the football."

On A.J. Jenkins' and Darius Millines' performances:
"We know A.J. and Darius are big-play type guys that can not only catch the ball, but they can actually break tackles and they'll go up and get it. I feel very good about where we are in the passing game right now."

On the defense:
"I'm really proud of us, the defense kept us in the game, particularly in the first half, there's no question. I wanted to see them keep (Arkansas State) out of the end zone there at the end, though. I thought overall they played a very good game and once again there will be things that we get better at. I think, defensively, we might've tried a thing or two that is gonna help us down the road as well."

On Jason Ford running the ball:
"I think Jason ran well, I really do. I think sometimes he needs to go north-south and quit trying to cut. But he'll get that. I think the first-game stuff we need to get out of the way, but we all know Jason can run the football."

Arkansas State Head Coach Hugh Freeze Postgame Quotes
Opening Statement:
"Well, we are very disappointed that we were not in the game at the end, and certainly not taking anything away from Illinois. They are a good football team, but we had chances to make plays early on in the game that would have put us in the game in the fourth quarter. We dropped touchdown passes, fumbled another one going in, dropped another touchdown pass and right before half, the game gets turned again on another turnover that could have been caught. We didn't execute when we had chances to make plays, but I think everyone that watched the game saw that I'm not talking about guys that are covered for touchdowns. We had some guys that were running free that if we throw and we catch it, I think the outcome would be different. I'm not saying we would have won the game, but we would have been in it in the fourth quarter and that's the disappointing part of it. We didn't find a way to compete, to put ourselves in position to see what we are made of late in the game."

On ASU's pace of play:
"Looking back, I wish I would have gone a little more pace early on, because they had trouble with it. But I was so concerned that I would put my defensive line out there for too many snaps. Then, when we get to the fourth quarter and we are a little gassed, but I thought our defensive line competed all day."

On giving up big plays:
"We gave up some deep balls over our head that we've got to get fixed; we cannot give those up. We gotta get those fixed because our defense is good enough to where if we don't give up the big play, it will give us a chance to win a lot of football games this year."

On taking what Illinois gave them:
"We are young up front and they are pretty dang good and physical. But again, you know, they are stacking the box a little bit and giving us some throws to the outside and we continued to take those when we had them. I did think there was some glimpses in the second half. Frankie Jackson showed some burst and I definitely wish we could have run the ball more effectively early."

On the running game:
"I really thought they were strong and physical up front and wasn't sure with our young offensive line that it was going to be the ticket. We did think we could play-action them and, again, we had our chances early on. But the running game we can hopefully improve on that."

Illinois Player Quotes
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase

On the offensive play:
"It was fun getting back out there, playing a game. We made some great adjustments and that's the biggest thing, in the first game you definitely have to do that. You never really know exactly what the other team is going to do so Coach Petrino did a great job of making adjustments and we were able to execute what he had planned for us."

On the adjustments made during the game:
"The key thing is whenever you're playing the first game there's always going to be a little gray area where you don't know exactly what they're going to do. We tried to figure it out up front, figure it out outside and I think Coach Petrino did a good job just letting us loose as far as the quarterback and receiver group. It was fun for us to be able to do that."

On his lack of running:
"I still can run. I probably should have done a better job with that. It was nice to finally get hit again. I'm still a dual threat, if they don't think I am they'll find out. It was good to get out there and pass the ball like that, it was something I was excited about. Honestly, I thought Darius and A.J. could go out and make a lot of plays this game and it showed. That's exactly what we want them to be able to do, to catch short routes, making long touchdowns. "

Wide Receiver A.J. Jenkins
On how he felt about the game:
"So far so good. It's the first time since I've been here that we're 1-0, so so far so good. We got the win and we did well. So we're just trying to keep this thing rolling, having energy, and keep winning games."

On the combination of him and Darius Millines:
"It's kind of a competition actually. Honestly, when he scored I knew I had to get at least one, I couldn't let him beat me. Darius is a great receiver but I had to make sure I keep my stats higher than his in every category. It's definitely a healthy competition. It's doesn't mean Ryan Lankford and Spencer Harris aren't competition, just today it seemed like it was me and Darius with the competition so I had to win."

On spinning the ball after the first completion:
"I was just in the moment, but it won't happen again. Obviously Coach Zook is really big on not doing things like that so I can't do it. Next week I won't do it. It will end right there."

Linebacker Trulon Henry
On his interception:
"Yeah, it was pretty impressive. I just didn't quit on the play that's all. The ball was thrown behind me and I turned around and tried to make a play on it. It's hard to explain. They threw the ball and I turned around and tried to make a play on it. It wasn't really thrown to my man. I just didn't give up on the play. Anybody could have sat back and watched. The wide receiver bobbled it a couple times and then I just snatched it out of his hands."

On how it feels to play in a game again:
"It felt great. I was proud of the defense as a unit. We had a lot of energy out there and we didn't really show a lot of energy in camp Rantoul. So it really was surprising and I really enjoyed it. It was fun."

On what it's like to be 1-0:
"I wasn't really thinking about it until Jack Cornell mentioned it a couple days ago that we haven't started at 1-0 in a long time, and I know he's been here for a while and he's been a fan of Illinois for a while. When he told that to us it really meant a lot to all of us to win this game, no matter how we were going to win just pull out the win to be 1-0."

Arkansas State Player Quotes
QB Ryan Aplin

On if he felt Illinois put pressure on him:
"They did put pressure on us but some of the time it was my fault, sending our protection the wrong way. But they did a couple of times."

Were you comfortable in the pocket today?
"Definitely. We had a bunch of big plays; the O-Line did a good job today on a lot of the pass plays. I had some good pockets. You saw we had a good couple of plays and that starts with them. "

On Illinois' defense:
"Like Coach said they ran a couple different things that we didn't see on film. We adjusted and they were a little loose on the outside and we took advantage of that. Other than that, they're physical up front like Coach said. We lost a lot of points out there today."

WLB Demario Davis:
What was the biggest disappointment for the defense?
"Most disappointing, I can't say. There were some good things done and there were some bad things that had to be corrected. But what I think happened out there defensively? First off I take full ownership for what happened out there. We gave up 33 points and I don't know how many of you all have looked at the stat sheet, but you can't just expect to win because you show up. And that's not who we are. We win because we are going to be the hardest working defense and we are going to perform because we work hard. And we made a lot of mistakes out there that we have to get corrected."