Oct. 1, 2011
#24/22 Illinois 38, Northwestern 35
Memorial Stadium // Oct. 1, 2011 // 53,243
Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook Quotes
"Well, it wasn't the prettiest we've played this year, but once again, sometimes those things happen. Our guys need to go out there and start playing at the beginning of the game. We didn't run the ball like we wanted to run, like we have to run. We didn't do a lot of things like we have. But we did the things we had to do to win the game and that's the thing that they believed in. As I told them at half time, the score doesn't count until it's over and then they played their tails off and finished strong which gave us the win. You have to give Northwestern credit, they played hard and weren't soft and were going to do whatever they had to do to stop the run after what happened last year. They did a pretty good job."
On the turn around by the offense in the second half:
"In the beginning of the game, I felt like if we just got going we were going to be alright. It was 7-0, the defense was playing well and the offense was moving the football. But, in this game, there is just so little difference between playing up here and playing down there. Finally in the fourth quarter, these guys just said `that's enough' and they were going to play the way they are capable of playing. You have to give the coaches a lot of credit. They did a great job of staying in it and doing the things we talked about and the things we had to do in terms of adjustments."
On how the team bounced back:
"It's staying in there and doing the things that you're coached to do. This is one of those games that's a very emotional game. Here in the Big Ten, everybody can beat everybody. People have to realize that and understand that. We went to Ohio State and beat them, and they were the number one team in the nation. No one thought we had a chance, so we have to be ready to play every single game."
On the play of WR Spencer Harris:
"Spencer made some key catches. Last week, he dropped that one right there in the middle, but now this week he went up and got them. Once again, I am proud of him and I think the fact that Nathan can spread the ball around is important."
On winning the game in the final two minutes:
"That's something we work on every day, sometimes to the point Coach Petrino gets upset with me, but it's something we work on every day. Games are won in the last two minutes of the game. Particularly in this stretch of the schedule and the anatomy of it, you have to be able to win in every two-minute situation and have confidence in every two-minute situation. Those guys do. As I told them in the huddle, this is just like practice. I give them a time, how many time outs we have and if we have to score or have a field goal. That's exactly why we do it. For them, it's just like practice."
Illinois Player Quotes
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase
On the game:
"We kept believing. That's what it was all about. We talked about that all week. Believing as an offense, believing in the defense, and believing what this team is all about. That's what we did throughout the game. We knew there were going to be ups and downs. Coach Zook said all week that with a rivalry game, you're going to have ups and downs, and that's exactly what we had, but we kept believing. That's the main thing that we kept saying on the sideline, kept saying during halftime in the locker room. Believe in the coaching we had all week, believe in the preparation, believe that what we're going to do out there on the field will work. That's what happened."
On not being cautious with the offense:
"We definitely threw caution to the wind. We were able to throw the ball down the field and execute some long plays. Coach Petrino and I talked about that in our meeting. He said it was going to be big for us to hit shots when we call them. We did a good job, probably as good as we have ever done, of hitting the plays down the field when they were there today."
On being 5-0 to start the season:
"5-0. It's good. More importantly than that, we're 1-0 in our conference. That's exactly where we wanted to be. With the competition we've faced, we feel like we've seen a lot of different styles and to come out 5-0 after these first 5 games, that were all at home, we did a good job of [taking advantage of] that."
On what passing does for teams trying to defend the Illini offense:
"It makes [defending us] tougher. We feel like every week we've been pulling out new things that we've been able to do well. Certain weeks we're running the ball well, certain weeks we're running the option well, certain weeks we're throwing the ball down the field, sometimes even short throws. Now we're a pretty dynamic offense. We feel good about that, and we feel like the defense should be getting a little nervous every time they play us."
WR A.J. Jenkins
On the game:
"I don't get frustrated if I get the ball or not. As long as we win games, if I have no catches, it doesn't matter. From last year, when Mikel [Leshoure] had 300 yards rushing, so they tried to pack it in, so we already knew we had to beat them deep this year, and that's what we did."
On being the guy for this team:
"I don't know if I'm the guy. I think Nate [Scheelhaase] is the guy, if you ask me. That's who I look up to."
On the feeling a comeback win brings:
"They are our rivals, so they are going to play us hard every year and play for the trophy, so we knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. They scored some points on us toward the end, and as an offense, we decided that we are going to go 5-0 this year, so we have to go ahead and get the ball in the endzone."
On his personal success:
"All I did was catch the ball. I don't think my job was that big, it's just catching the ball. Nate had to stay in the pocket and throw on the move. The [offensive] line was getting me open. There is a lot more to the puzzle than me."
BAN Michael Buchanan
On the game:
"It was a very big roller coaster. It's the defense's job to make the stop, and it's the offense's job to come down and score that last touchdown for us, so it was really a team effort."
On what the team will take from the game:
"I think we will grow from [the game]. Just coming out of it knowing we didn't play our best at all, and we still got the win, I feel like next week's practice will be a very productive practice. I feel like we're going to get a lot better from this."
On Scheelhaase and Jenkins putting on a show:
"It was a lot of fun seeing guys run wide open down the field and making big plays. It feels good to sit on the sideline as the defense. When the offense is on the field, we're happy."
Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald Quotes
"I am disappointed, obviously, in the outcome and the finish. Lots of opportunities for us to go out and get the job done and we did not, which is disappointing. I thought a lot of positives, I thought the way we were able to take the ball away, the way we were able to effectively run the football. (It was) nice to have Dan (Persa) back out there and make some plays. Kind of one of those anomaly games, you go 4-for-4 in the red zone, we had three turnovers and we didn't find a way to win. Little bit of anomaly but kind of disappointing.
"At the same time, we've got a good football team that I believe has the makings of winning a bunch of football games if we don't beat ourselves, and that's what happened today. I'm not trying to discredit Illinois; Illinois played well. Illinois made plays but when you've got young guys making mistakes, it's on us as coaches. We have to get the guys to cover the guys appropriately in coverage concepts. (I) thought the plan was positive, we just didn't get our guys to execute and that's on us."
On Kain Colter:
"I think he's played his tail off the whole season. He's a dynamic playmaker. As you can see from our plan, we used him in a number of different ways today. He's got such an unbelievable personality: `I'll do whatever the team needs me to do' and (he) stepped up great and played his tail off."
On Northwestern's defense:
"(I am) shocked. Nothing that we didn't work on and nothing that we didn't prepare for, which is probably the most disappointing aspect of the whole day."
Was the issue making the same mistake repeatedly or a new mistake each time?
"I think it's a combination of both. The first couple of series when they are running exchange routes and drop route, we've got a guy that's got to come off and he doesn't, and they come back and do it again and we make a check and the guy doesn't hear the check. We've got some young players playing in the fourth game making some young mistakes on the road and we have to coach them better. That's the bottom line. They're on scholarship, too, and they've got to make plays. We look at the tapes critically and see where things are. Obviously, competition is always open in our program and if guys aren't doing what they are supposed to be doing, they're going to find themselves standing next to me if they continue to do that."
Did you notice any letdown when Northwestern was ahead 28-10?
"Not at all. I just saw a lack of execution, but no let down. Boundary (sideline) was good, guys were excited and fired up. They just had explosion passes."
Northwestern Player Quotes
WR Jeremy Ebert
On Persa's return to NU lineup:
"We knew what to expect with Dan. He's been doing it all along, so I'm proud of how he played, how he battled. I'm just looking forward to next Saturday. It's always nice to have a first-team All-Big Ten quarterback back there with you. It's fun seeing him back there and having No. 7 out there with you. When he was rehabbing, I was the guy he was throwing to and I live with him, he's my roommate, so I kind of have that bond with him."
QB Kain Colter
On his chance to play QB:
"I just thank God for another chance to go in there and play quarterback. I felt good leading those guys down and getting some points up and taking the lead. Unfortunately, we didn't get the `W' and it's a tough loss."
QB Dan Persa
On exiting the game early:
"I just got hit when I was throwing and I felt some pain at the bottom of my heel. I told my coach it was starting to stiffen up and, in the past, that's when steps back have happened, so it was my decision. Kain came in, did a good job and we got back up, so it was a smart decision at that point. It's tough when you want to go back in, but at the same time, you don't want to risk further injury."
On expectations of Illinois' defense to not let up: "I assumed that they were going to come out and I was coming off an injury. I was fine, I thought I did a pretty good job of trying to escape that, but I feel fine."
S Brian Peters
On NU defensive struggles:
"From a secondary standpoint, we just have to execute. There are a few things they did that we had not seen, but everything we prepared for. From a coverage standpoint, we just have to do our jobs."
On A.J. Jenkins' performance:
"He's an athletic kid, you know, you have got to give him his props, but we beat ourselves in the secondary. We just have to do our jobs and execute, especially in the second half and fourth quarter."