Nov. 13, 2010
Illinois 34, Minnesota 38
Memorial Stadium // Nov. 13, 2010 // 55,549
ILLINOIS HEAD COACH Ron Zook
"This was a game we wanted to win, especially for the seniors and being their last opportunity to play at home. Yet we didn't play the way you have to if you want to win a game. One thing we learned from this game is you have to play every play. Particularly in the Big Ten, you better play every play and every game.
"You can't look at Minnesota's record. They're Big Ten players. They want to win and they want to practice. At times we played well enough to win and at times we didn't. We didn't deserve to win when it came down to it."
On the Illini defense:
"I don't know why we haven't been tackling the way we were. We'll have to go back to look at film to figure out what it is. We've done our best to back off of them this week and get them rested, but we haven't been playing the way we're capable of playing."
On how to bounce back:
"Well, you go back to work, that's what you do. That's one thing that this game teaches you- you don't quit, you keep going, you keep playing, you figure out what the issues are and get them fixed. If we need to make changes, we'll make changes.
On the game's momentum:
"This was a game with a lot of momentum swings. I don't think we met their emotions until the second half. In the third quarter we came out and did the things we needed to do, but we didn't maintain for 30 minutes. I told the players at halftime and before the game that we have to play at our level, and we didn't."
On Terry Hawthorne:
"Terry won't be out the rest of the year. His foot was bothering him again and he didn't want to take a chance at making it worse."
On what went wrong:
"We had some sacks against (Nathan) Scheelhaase, and we had so many opportunities to intercept the ball. Those are plays that tell me we aren't mentally ready to play. We talk about it all the time- we don't care who makes a play, but they're going to be there and we have to be there to make them when they're there ... To me the biggest thing we did wrong was we didn't go out there ready to play, and that's my fault. I'm the head coach and I'm supposed to have them out there and ready to play."
On making a bowl game:
"Everybody wants to talk about a bowl game, but I don't want to talk about a bowl game. You don't think I think about the bowl game? Of course I do, but I want to focus on this game. There's nothing we can do about a bowl game until we get six wins. We need to worry about us playing the way we're capable of playing and that's exactly what we're not doing."
On missing an extra point:
"The wind was really strong. The ball was wobbling and two times we had it in the wind. There are a few tricks that I think I can teach the players about the wind, but that's one of the hardest thing for a holder or punter when the ball is wobbling. The ball obviously rolled or slipped."
ILLINOIS PLAYER QUOTES
RB Mikel Leshoure
On the tough loss...
"It was a tough loss. We didn't execute to our full potential early in the game. We let those guys hang around. We kept them in the game, gave them a boost of confidence. We were into it coming into the game. Offensively we came out and struck first. We got off to a good start, but the energy didn't seem like how it has been in the past. I don't know what the problem was, we just didn't play like we usually have."
On where the team goes from here...
"We definitely can't play tight, that's one thing we can't do. I felt like we didn't do that in the second half. We just have to keep focused and keep working, starting Sunday. Get in, watch the film, and take care of our bodies. We got to get after it Monday. The intensity has to be good in practice all week."
QB Nathan Scheelhaase
On the disappointing loss...
"Obviously, any loss doesn't feel good. It was Senior Day, which was a big game for us. We wanted to send those seniors out the right way. We didn't do a good job of doing that. We didn't do a good job executing. It's frustrating when you lose any time, it's especially frustrating when you lose at home in a game you feel like you should be able to capitalize on. That's something that's tough. As quick as we can we have to let that one go. We still have two games left and they're going to be big games."
On what's changed from earlier games...
"It's tough to say right now without watching film. I know offensively, I thought personally I did a bad job of executing in the first half. I thought we did a lot better in the second half and I did better in the second half. There was definitely some things I thought we, and especially myself, could have executed a lot better, which could have turned the whole game around earlier and we wouldn't have to deal with all that at the end.
LB Nate Bussey
On the defensive effort...
"Any time a team tackles poorly; it leads to big plays and things like that. It was poor tackling on our behalf and giving up big plays when we really needed to shut them down. If we cover that stuff up and make more tackles I think it's a better outcome."
On the players being ready to play today's game...
"Coach Zook is the head coach, he's supposed to pump us up and things like that, but it's up the players to go out and play. Player-driven teams are championship teams, so if a player-driven team can step up and be like it's supposed to be, like a player-driven team as it's stated, then we should be able to come out with a better outcome each week."
MINNESOTA INTERIM HEAD COACH Jeff Horton
"It's obviously been a long, long time, way back in September, since we had a win and it's a great victory for the University of Minnesota. I don't know if I gave our kids much of a chance to win games. Our coaches and staff prepared well and our players played their tails off. There were a lot of times the game could have gone either way. We hung in there and made some plays and it was awesome to see this tribute to them and their character."
On whether he expected a Gatorade shower
"No, no I didn't. All the coaches should have got that. I'm the guy out front but with all the uncertainty we've had this year, it's great to see the payoff for everybody. I think this shows the kids the biggest thing is to hang in there and to fight and you'll have some success and we need some success. It's been a long time for a lot of things and it's good to have a victory. It's special for these kids because they put so much into it and finally got rewarded for it."
On how the win affects the remainder of the season
"I think this shows them they can compete. Illinois is a great football team that has beaten great football teams and is athletic. We feel very fortunate to come away with a victory."
On bouncing back
"I just think there comes a point in time where you say enough is enough. We talked about that last night and tomorrow can be our day - enough is enough. Enough heartache, enough setbacks."
On the mood during halftime
"Halftime was almost as though it was the end of the game. We had to settle them down because we hadn't had the lead during halftime in a long time. To be up by 10 was a good situation. It gave us more juice."
On the final timeout
"I wanted to make sure we had 11 guys out there and that we settled down. I felt that if we were short, we had one time out left and we were going to call it. And we were going for the win. We weren't going to go kick the field goal to tie it. We were going to win or lose it right there on that end zone spot."
On the mood in the locker room after the game
"It felt like we won a national championship and it should be like that. It may be a second win, but those kids deserve it and hung in there. I don't know if people realize how tough the situation is. It's a tough situation and everyday is a battle."
MINNESOTA PLAYER QUOTES
QB Adam Weber
On the team's comfort in the red zone...
"At this point in the season, there's really no reason to feel nervous or on edge or anything. Especially when you're in a two-minute drive. The biggest thing you have to do is stay calm, stay collected and try to score points. You couldn't have ended the game any better, especially going for our first Big Ten win and a much-needed win."
On Troy Stoudermire's 92 yard kick return...
"That was huge. Those are the little things. It's a whole entire team game. The defense came up and played awesome this game, then having a big kick return and getting it down to the four yard line, then the offense being able to stick it in. That's what shows a great team. We kept on fighting and never gave up, and we were able to capitalize on those big plays. That's why we won this game."
Did the offense dwell on the fact that your first three drives resulted in punts?
"You can't. That's the hardest thing, is trying to separate each week, but you have to. If you sit there and dwell, if you go in there thinking `We're a 1-9 team,' you're not going to compete, you're not going to give your best out there. We go into this week, we go into every single week, putting the past behind us and still having confidence that we're a great team. It's just a matter of us putting it together and this week we started to do that, and out there on the field today, we showed it. It was a full complete win for this team."
MLB Gary Tinsley
On comparing this defensive performance to previous games this season...
"This is a 10. We did real well. The defense swarmed to the ball every day in practice and we've been fresh all week, so we were ready to come out and play."
On the potential of the team...
"We have a real talented team. Some people don't know that because of our record, but we are really talented. You saw today when we came together, that's what we do."
RB Deleon Eskridge
On struggling during the drive but being able to score touchdowns...
"It seemed like the whole team changed. They were just real motivated, like `Let's get it in.' I guess we were fed up as a team. I think they (the offensive line) were blocking well and when we got close, we knew we had to finish. That's kind of been our thing, that we haven't been closing out and finishing. We just said `forget it' today."
On when the attitude of the team changed ...
"I think when it really changed was at halftime, or even during the game when we were playing. You could just see that we believed. I think that was a big thing, that we believed we could win and we actually did it."