Postgame Quotes - Illinois 56, South Dakota State 3


Sept. 10, 2011

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Illinois 56, South Dakota State 3
Memorial Stadium // Sept. 10, 2011 // 42,212

Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook Postgame Quotes
Opening statement:
I'm happy for our football team. I think these guys understand that it's 2 wins. We still have at least ten more regular season games to go and we have to be ready to play. But I think we did make a lot of improvement. Obviously, we still have a lot of improvement to make and you know that's why you play the earlier games before you get into the Big Ten."

On freshman running back Donovonn Young:
"I think Donovonn, both those guys - him and Josh - the more they go in there, the more they run the football, the better they're going to be. I noticed they were much better this week than they were last week. They ran more like they did in camp today than they did last week and that'll come with experience."

On freshman quarterback Reilly O'Toole:
"With [O'Toole's] experience, he's getting better and better. You know, like I said, the guy can move around and get out of trouble. He's got a quick release, Coach Brohm has done a great job with him and there's a lot of offense in his head already. You know he's just going to get better and better."

On Trulon Henry's interception return for touchdown:
"That was kind of the play, to me, the sparked everything, sparked the whole football team. Once again, Trulon just gets better and better and like I said before: (on) Saturdays, he plays well."

On starting out 2-0:
"Winning is a lot more fun than losing and I think our guys feel good about where we are. I think once again the locker room felt good. It's exciting, but they understand that we've got a long way to go and that's the thing I like about them."

On tight end Zach Becker's injury:
"Obviously you feel awful for Zach Becker. Here's a guy who's had some tough times and it looks like it's an ankle. You know he's probably going to be out for the year so. Tough break, you feel bad for him. I told him in the locker room, that's why you play every play like it's your last because you never know. It's the bad part about the game."

South Dakota State Head Coach John Stiegelmeier Postgame Quotes
Opening Statement:
"We came in here to try to play our best football. You know it's hard to measure yourself off of film. The University of Illinois is a good football team, a very good football team, and its hard, without looking at the film, I don't think we came close to playing up to our potential. Again a huge part of that is Illinois' ability, their coaching and their players. I'm disappointed for our players but I expect us to rebound because we have a bunch of winners on our football team."

What was so different today than against Minnesota and Nebraska (in previous seasons)?
"We never got any momentum. We got one stop on defense, but after that it was a long day. When they ran the option, I mean holy nutmeg, that's where you start your defense, they averaged 7,8,9,10 yards a carry."

Were you surprised at how many times they went untouched?
"Yes I was, scheme-wise they put some pressure on some guys, you know so they really forced the defensive end to help out with the cut-back and take a pretty good quarterback out of the backfield. And, you know, in football you can't say `I got him,' you have 11 guys and you can't do that. That was a tough play for us."

On keeping the players focused when down big:
"You know, you ask the players about small goals, our goal going in was to play as close to perfect football as possible. That means if you're against an All-American tackle as a defensive end, I secure my gap. He may dominate me, but at some point I've got to release my gap. That's the only goal we had, 0-0, 28-0, that's the way we play football."

On moving forward for the rest of the season:
"Well, I think that's huge as a head football coach and our position coaches, that we objectively don't let our egos get involved and objectively evaluate the film. That means don't grade a kid differently because you didn't like his performance. You grade him how he deserves to be graded positively or negatively. So 5:30 tomorrow we're going to be done with this football game."

Illinois Player Quotes
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase

On how excited he is to play Arizona State:
"Yeah, we're pumped about it. All the players wanted to get to this point and be 2-0. We know it's going to be a big week of preparation. We're excited about the improvements we've made up until this point. We're excited, they had a good game last night and they're coming into our place. We know it's going to be a hostile environment."

Linebacker Ian Thomas
On playing South Dakota State:
"They were a good team. They play hard; they weren't scared. We just wanted to fight. It's not about who it is, we always want to go out and go as hard as we can."

On if he watched next week's opponent Arizona State last night on TV:
"Yeah I watched them. They're a good team. We're just going to go out and play as hard as we can."

Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins
On how he feels about the Illini standing 2-0:
"It feels good, the confidence is there so we have to go out prepared for next week."

On what he learned from today and watching many of his teammates get to play:
"This is a game where we learned because a lot of players got to play in the game. Now we know how they play and know the talent is there. It was fun especially for me watching them go at it."

Free safety Supo Sanni
On what it feels like to be 2-0:
"It's good, the confidence is good for us. Now we come back next week against a good team and we'll be excited to play."

On getting a chance to play so much:
"I always liked doing this. I've been playing this position for a long time. It just pays off when you go out on the field. I got into a nice rhythm that you were able to carry throughout the game.

As someone who's been injured, how he feels for Zach Becker:
"I feel for Zach because I was in that same position actually just last year. You just keep working out and working for the team. I know what it takes and I know he's got it."

South Dakota State Player Quotes
Quarterback Thomas O'Brien

On Illinois versus the Nebraska and Minnesota games:
"They are a really good defense. I don't know if they necessarily presented anything differently than Nebraska or Minnesota, but when you are facing a team like that, you have to capitalize and that is what we didn't do. We can't be defined as a team by what another team does. If they are scoring a bunch of points, we have to do our own thing. We have to do our job."

Defensive Back Skyler Luxa:
On the difference between today's game and those against Nebraska a Minnesota, games that were much closer:
"Just too many mental mistakes and we didn't tackle as a team. It has to be better if you play a team like them. They are a great team and we just didn't step up for the occasion."