Nov. 19, 2011
#15/13 Wisconsin 28, Illinois 17
Nov. 19, 2011 // Memorial Stadium // Champaign, Ill. // Attendance: 45,519
ILLINOIS HEAD COACH Ron Zook QUOTES
"All right, (it was a) tale of two teams out there; tale of two halves. I told them at halftime, you know, we've got to continue to play the same way. We obviously went out there and, as soon as we turned it over the first time on offense, then it seems like they began to think and we went back into the old mood. The thing we've got to do is, I just told them, is we've got to come out and play two halves like we did the first half. I thought we did some good things the first half on both sides of the football. You know, the defense played extremely well, but I think you keep putting the defense in that situation against an offense like that, obviously some things are going to - or some bad things are going to happen. But as I told them, we've got to stick together, we've got one game to go here and we've got to do everything we can do to play two halves like we're capable of playing."
On the rationale for giving QB Riley O'Toole more playing time:
"Well, as I said, I thought we had to make changes. Not that that's the - I'm not trying to say that it has anything to do with Nathan - I just think that, once again, we had to make some changes. We had to do things differently. You know, I'm not necessarily a proponent of change to change, but when you're in a situation like that, I think you have to try something and make some changes. We talked about it, I said the first half, I thought it went pretty well. But second half, once again, it wasn't the changes, it was the fumbles and the crazy things like that."
On RB Donovonn Young's injury:
"It's a sprained ankle, (head football athletic trainer) Nick (Richey) doesn't feel like it's too bad. It's not a high- ankle; it's a regular ankle sprain. We'll have a chance to find out how he's going to respond to that. You know, as a running back and, you know, those guys usually get a lot of attention and they get beat up a lot, so this will be a good experience to see what kind of guy he's going to be as a running back."
On having offensive coordinator Paul Petrino on the sideline during the game:
"Well, once again, it goes back to trying to change some things up. When things aren't going the way you want them to go, as I said, I think you have to do some changing. It was one of the things I felt like - you know bringing Paul down. Paul's been on the field before, Jeff's been in the box before. They're still going to get the same information and Paul's going to look in their face and if he wants to make a substitution or call a play, it's a lot easier to do that from the sideline than it is to do from the box."
On playing two intense halves of football:
"Well, the first half - and I told them I think that's the team we've got to come out and play two halves next week. We got to come out with the same attitude, the same intensity and play for two halves. Once again, if something bad happens you can't-worry-about-it (mentality) and we're going to find out what we're made of next week."
ILLINOIS PLAYER QUOTES
DB Tavon Wilson
On wearing Trulon Henry's number:
"I know it meant a lot to him. Obviously, he couldn't be out there with us today, so I just wanted to do something for him to lift his spirits. I also did this for his daughter. She knows his number while he's out there, so I wanted to at least have her see the No. 9 out there on the field."
On not holding the lead:
"It's very frustrating. All year, we have been playing great in the second half. This week, we played great in the first half and just didn't play well in the second half. We have to go back to the drawing board and continue to fight and prepare to go get a win at Minnesota."
QB Nathan Scheelhaase
On their effort:
"We definitely came out and battled from the start. We were playing for a lot today. We were playing for the seniors, for Trulon (Henry) and just for our pride. So we came out swinging and definitely went down swinging, too, there's no doubt about it. I was proud of the way we fought."
On the coaching staff:
"We love being around our coaches. They do a great job, and work their butts off every week. We just need to stay focused on what we need to do and not let the outside stuff get to us. I wouldn't be where I am today without these coaches."
On next week's game:
"If we play the way we did in the first half today, then the sky is the limit. We are going up to their place. They are one of the most improved teams in the Big Ten, but we just need to take care of business."
"Against a tough team like Wisconsin, you can't turn the ball over. We took advantage of their turnovers in the first half and they took advantage of ours. But those things can't happen, especially the interception I threw on the last drive. We were on their side of the 50 (yard line) and driving, and that is totally my fault."
DE Whitney Mercilus
On not holding the lead:
"It's very frustrating. We came in and played the first half great. We let off the gas pedal a little bit and they capitalized on our mistakes. We were pumped up coming into this game and really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent."
On facing a short field on defense multiple times:
"It can wear on you a little bit. We can't think internally and think about ourselves though and how tired we are. Adversity is going to happen, but it's how you respond to it that matters. We gave up a few easy touchdowns that shouldn't have happened."
WISCONSIN HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA QUOTES
"I can't say enough about the preparation to get to where we are. I thought coming into Monday, we had the possibility of as many as six starters that may not be able to play in the game but they did everything they could to get out on the field and practice at least Thursday and Friday. To come over here, you knew you were walking into kind of a storm, everything was going on, we told our guys to prepared. Obviously, (we) didn't play well in the first half, took it in at half time. When I was leaving the locker room, I made the decision I wanted to take the ball, I wanted to kick off with the wind and be aggressive. They couldn't have asked for anything better to start the second half. Our offense capitalized on the second half. They just kept a foot on the floorboard from there on out. (We had) some really good individual plays. Antonio (Fenelus)' play, even though we didn't score, was a huge play. Obviously, Shelton Johnson at the end, there, to come up with a pick to seal the win and just a couple other individual plays. Then Montee Ball, (I) can't say enough about what he's been able to do. (We) challenged our offensive line all week, we're playing against a good defensive front. (We) really wanted them to play well against a good defensive team. They did that and I really think they showed the ability for (guard) Travis (Frederick) and (center) Ryan (Groy) to switch (spots) in the middle of third quarter. Now that takes us to this week, we'll take a look at the film and have an opportunity. Against Penn State, there's a lot on the table and we know it's senior day. I said this to our group inside and I really mean it, `It's another opportunity for us to play together.' This locker room is just filled with chemistry all over the place. What we've had to go through in the world college of football is very unique only to us and to have that disappointment, to rise up from that is very special to us in transform. Injury-wise, there wasn't really anything. (Tackle) Ricky (Wagner) tweaked his knee but he sucked it up and came back out there."
On the offense and defense picking each other up:
"Obviously the offense has picked up the defense. I heard our defensive guys talking about it at halftime, `Now it's our time to pick up on offense.' Exactly what they said came true."
On RB Montee Ball:
"He enjoys every minute of it. I've never had a running back compete in practice as hard as he does. That's why the games slow down for him, as easy as they are. He works his tail off every day of the week."
On the impact the weather had:
"We practiced with wet balls on Thursday. We were expecting adverse weather conditions, so we knew that might be in the plan. That's the Wisconsin formula; for us to have success we have to be able to run the football and throw the football effectively."
On grinding out the win:
"At halftime, we talked about our offensive scoring more than 10 points on numerous occasions. What we want to do is play good defense, put the ball back in our offense's hands and let them do what they do. Again, it's a great team win. I told them at halftime, this is one of the greatest memories they'll have. They were at such an adverse situation, to come out and be triumphant needs to be three phases."
WISCONSIN PLAYER QUOTES
QB Russell Wilson
On the second half:
"Defense came up with some big, big stops on the defensive side of the ball. We got the ball back, the offensive line did a great job of pushing the guys back and getting first downs when we needed to. Montee did a good job getting in the end zone, some guys made some big time catches near the end there so that was huge."
On first-half struggles:
"You know, you're playing a great defense, and when you play a great defense there are going to be ups and downs. That's the ebb and flow of the game so we had to stay positive, stay encouraged, keep our swagger and believe in what we do."
On the run heavy game plan:
"They have really good defensive ends and also at the same time we felt that we had to get first downs when we needed to, and the wind being a pretty big factor we had to focus on what we could control. And when it was time to pass I had to make a big time throw and guys made some big time catches."
On the high snap:
"I just wanted to recover it. I didn't want them to pick it up, that's for sure, so I hustled to it, got the ball back, and that was big. It got back there pretty far, pretty quick and I knew their defensive ends were going to get up field and see that pretty quick."
RG Kevin Zeitler
On relying on RB Montee Ball:
"He's been able to get the job done, he's been reliable, he's been productive, so why not rely on him?"
On the game being about running the ball:
"I think every game for us comes down to being a running game, I had no idea what the game plan would be like with Coach Chryst, but he made the right calls and it worked."
On the second-half turnaround:
"We needed to have some resolve. We just kept grinding the entire second half and it started to get going at the end and we were able to finish it out."
Punter Brad Nortman
On his 74-yard punt:
"I feel like it was a pretty big momentum swing. I think that, in general, momentum was swinging toward us anyway so being able to help out the team and continue to keep the momentum coming our way was important."