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    Post-Game Quotes



    Dec. 5, 2009

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    QUOTING ILLINOIS HEAD COACH RON ZOOK...

    Opening Statement...
    "Well, I guess the way the season was going, it's not a big surprise that the game went like that. I thought it was a heck of a game. We did some good things, but obviously we didn't do enough good things. It's a good football team. We are proud of our seniors, and I felt bad that we couldn't get them over the hump for the last game. I told them that they are part of the foundation of what this program is right now and there's no doubt in my mind that this program is going up. Obviously we have some work to do but we are not near as far away as it may seem."

    On Mikel LeShoure...
    "Obviously Mikel had a big day, 184 yards and two (rushing) touchdowns. I don't think there is any question that he is going to have a great future."

    On the offense...
    "Well, anytime you have 548 yards, you have to feel like it is a pretty good offensive day, and we had a pretty good offensive day last week. We got better, but the problem is we didn't get better fast enough, soon enough, or early enough."

    On the offseason...
    "Well, obviously the number one thing is recruiting, but more importantly than that is our players. We have some great people here, and it is very important that we get together and set some guidelines about what direction we want to go. There are a lot of great football players on this football team, and we are not as near as far away as people think. It's our job as a coaching staff to get them over the hump."

    On the team's number one priority...
    "Attitude and belief. By that I mean the belief that when you step on the field you are going to win the football game. There are a lot of times that you have to step on the field just believing you are going to win. There are some teams that have it and some teams that don't. I'm not saying we didn't and I'm not saying we did, but there are some things that I think we have to address. We have to understand that to win football in the Big Ten Conference, it is going to come with a price tag and we have to make sure we pay the price."

    On defensive changes...
    "That goes back to attitude. You have to have a belief that when they are driving the football they are not going to get in. That you are going to keep them out of there. Big plays are something that has plagued us a lot these past couple years, and we have got to get it fixed."

    On the senior class...
    "I apologized to them first of all, because we didn't get it done. They played their tails off, we played well, but the one interception Juice threw, the guy was in his face and he didn't know what happened. Jeff Cumberland had a big catch. They'll remember this game. As time goes on they will remember the good things about it that it was the most points scored in the history of Memorial Stadium. I feel awful for them, I really do."


    QUOTING ILLINOIS PLAYERS:

    RB Mikel LeShoure

    On the loss taking away from his personal accomplishments...
    "I wouldn't necessarily say it takes from anything, but at the same time, I would rather have a win over a great game any day -especially for our seniors. We wanted to have them go out with a bang."

    On looking towards the future...
    "I'm definitely excited about next year, but this is a long season so you have to take the breaks that you get. We will be starting workouts again before you know it."


    QB Juice Williams

    On the feeling of his career being over...
    "I'm sad on the inside, but at the same time I'm joyful because I have a chance to reflect on the last four years. It was just remarkable to finish my senior season and I'm forever thankful for the opportunity to be here."

    On reflecting on this game in the future...
    "Of course we lost, but there were so many positive things to happen out there. There were big plays and things to continuously repeat over and over in your mind 20 or 30 years from now. That's something I'm looking forward to."

    On walking off the field for the last time...
    "It was tough, not even so much that we lost, but that it was the last time that I will walk off as an Illini football player. I just tried to take in as much as possible to store in my memory bank."


    WR Arrelious Benn

    On the final play...
    "It was a difficult day. It's kind of funny that our last game of the season ended like that, but it's the game of football. Things happen and you're not in control of them. That's the way it goes sometimes."

    On his 58-yard TD catch...
    "I was excited to get into the end zone. It was a great feeling and I showed it. I kind of stuck my hand out there and the ball just came into my hand. I just took it because (the defender) had his hands on it also. Then I just fought my way to the end zone."


    SS Garrett Edwards

    On why they lost...
    "We didn't play well enough defensively. You can't give up 50 points and expect to win. It was a shoot-out. They are a good team and you have to give credit to them."

    On his confidence in the coaches...
    "We never question their game plan. They always have a great plan going into the game. It's on us execute the plan. We did it sometimes, but not consistently enough. We've got to make a big improvement on that next year."



    QUOTING FRESNO STATE HEAD COACH PAT HILL

    Opening Statement...
    "That was one hell of a football game. Both teams never quit. It was obviously an offensive performance. Both the teams played so hard out there today and I am really proud of our football team. This is our third trip to the Midwest this year. For these early morning games, they are tough and I really respect the kids. They looked a bit sluggish in the first half, but there was not a time they ever gave up. We really had to do some talking at halftime about playing with passion. In the second half we played with great passion. Illinois also played with great passion throughout the whole game."

    On going for two...
    "The bottom line is when it came down to it at the end of the game, I felt that going for two was the right call. It got a little dicey at the end only because during the review I did not know whether we were going to get the ball on the one-yard line and chop the ball ready to play, and I would have had to use my timeout there. So we were really in a quandary of what we were going to call whether we were going to be in big personnel or the personnel to make the two-point play. I had already talked to Jeff (Grady) up in the press box at about the five minute mark that when we punted, if we stopped here and went down field that we were going to go for two. The reason is that an overtime game was not in our best interest at the time. There have been games, like at Wisconsin, I felt that it was for us. But, that's a whole different conversation. In this game, I felt that we needed to try to end it on one play. I thought that putting the ball at the plus 25 was not in our best interest and advantage. Finishing the game like that was not the way we had it drawn up, but it was successful."

    On halftime running adjustments...
    "Illinois has good personnel. I felt they played the run well, but in the second half we made some adjustments at halftime. Some of the emotions in the first half were not to our advantage. We were getting an extra guy in the box. In the second half we were more set and not moving, and just lining up and going. We had very simple checks in the second half, no motion involved and it made it easier for us to decipher what they were going to do. I thought we made some good halftime adjustments in the run game."

    On the last five minutes...
    "I think all the timeouts and the time at the end of the game really hurt us. There was no surprise that we were going to go for two. We lost that edge with that five-minute break and that had me a little nervous. We decided to stick with it and it turned out with a win."

    On the win against Illinois...
    "I am proud of taking the win today. It was our 33rd BCS game this decade. We are 14-19. There is no doubt that this team plays as tough of a schedule as any team in the country. It is our 81st win in the decade, which I am very proud of. There are only 25 teams in the country that have over 80 wins. I am proud of what we have done and what these young men have done at our program. Both on and off the field, today really exemplified what this program is really about. It is a never quit attitude."

    On getting his 100th career win...
    "I was not really thinking about the 100th win out there. It is an honor though, especially doing that at one school. Not many people stay at a school that long. Loyalty is very important to me, and I feel really good about being at Fresno State for a long period of time and running a successful program. We will continue to make this program as good as it can be."


    QUOTING FRESNO STATE PLAYERS:

    WR Chastin West

    On Illinois' defense...
    "We saw that they played inside, so out routes were what we needed against them. Their front seven were very good and so are their interior linemen, but we felt like we could dominate the cornerback and for the most part I felt like we did that."

    On the two-point conversion...
    "Coach Hill wanted to go with the offense to win the game just because the defense had been a little shaky through the game. He knew that an overtime situation wouldn't be in our best interest. I don't know how it happened but I'm glad to see our team walk away with the win."


    LG Devan Cunnigham

    On the last play...
    "I'm just happy that we won and our team was able to play hard today and come out with a win in Big Ten country. (Center) Joe (Bernardi) gave me the extra push to get into the end zone, but once I opened my eyes and gathered everything, half of my body was in the end zone so I thought that maybe I did score. I'm glad that I was in the right spot at the right time."

    On Illinois' defense...
    "They played cover two. We had a good game plan coming in, so it was just a matter of us staying on our blocks. The big difference in the second half was that we were more focused on people staying on their blocks and opening up routes for the running backs."

    On Coach Hill's 100th win...
    "He works very hard at Fresno State and a lot of people outside of the program don't see how hard he works with this program. I'm just proud to be a part of it and a part of this win because he puts a lot of effort into establishing with us that no matter what school we play, we can hang with them and I think we showed that today."


    RB Ryan Matthews

    On the game...
    "We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in here. We just had to keep pushing and we ended up with the win. Illinois is a good team and we knew it would take a lot of toughness to win this game, so we came out big and got a win."

    On running the ball...
    "It was tough yards. Illinois' defense is tough and they hit hard. They cover the ball well and every single yard was tough. I just had to stick my head in there and go for it. I just wanted to get the job done and come out and get the win."

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