Sept. 1, 2014
Interviews: OC Cubit | DC Banks | QB Lunt | DT Teitsma | DB Petty
Head coach Tim Beckman met with the media at his weekly press conference on Monday. Selected quotes are below. Full video is available at the top of the page.
"Let me start off with the way Coach mentioned, Kevin mentioned, what a great weekend for the University of Illinois. Very excited, very pumped to see what the volleyball team did, what the soccer team did, and really, what we did. If you compare it to the game we opened up with a year before, it was a little bit different than the year before. We did some things we didn't do the year before. It took us a little bit of time, there's no question about that. It took us four quarters to win a football game, but a lot of credit's got to be given to this football team and its integrity and its poise as we progressed through that football game.
"We've got a lot of new faces on our offense, with a new starting quarterback and new wide receivers that were out there. So that was some of the situation that occurred early. But what made me proud as a football coach was how the football team responded in general. From sidelines to believing that we need to make a play, so let's make a play. We need to protect our quarterback, so let's protect our quarterback. All those types of things that I think are so important in your first football game.
"Youngstown State, give them credit. They're a good football team. There's no question about that. Now, we've got to focus on what we can do better, and that's against a Western Kentucky football team that went out and scored 59 points last weekend and beat the Mid-American Conference champ in Bowling Green and had over 100 plays that Coach Brohm had called, so they're a fast-paced team and we need to be ready and prepared for this weekend's contest."
On the secondary:
"Well, I was happy with the way the secondary played. We had three of the four (starters) who graded out. I thought our safeties played well. Made some great tackles, did some good things. Things that we had to improve on from last year. I thought we made some plays on some deep balls. You didn't see receivers behind us. I thought we also created some pressure with the front four, so I thought Coach Banks did a great job of preparing our guys to get ready to play, and they ended up performing the way we wanted them to."
On Taylor Barton:
"Taylor's been working extremely hard in all facets of his game. Not just getting faster and stronger, but football k knowledge. I thought he had a great game. He was running great angles. He anticipated, through formations and those things, what was going to happen and did a great job. Had a great football game. Probably his best, in my opinion, in his second year playing."
On the team's difficulty forcing turnovers:
"Again, that's the Achilles' heel that we have got to change, and that is we've got to take the football away. We had a dropped interception that possibly could've went for a touchdown. We have got to continue to strive on ball awareness, pulling the ball out when we're gang tackling, and continue to create that pressure on the quarterback because balls will be thrown that we can intercept, then."
What did Wes Lunt do well?
"With what we do offensively, it's not just in the quarterback's hands. It's about running proper depth routes, it's about on this step, we're at this area so we're going to catch the football. Because we're reading a lot of what the defense is doing. What I thought Wes did extremely well is he took his game - we weren't playing very good early in that football game and he took his game to another level in that fourth quarter, which showed exactly what our capabilities are in making big plays with him. As a football coach, that's what I like to see: I like to see competitive guys who are getting better during football games, not getting worse. And I definitely thought he got better as we progressed."
What does Western Kentucky's quarterback do well?
"Well, I think he runs their offense extremely well. He has great precision with his passes, especially the deep ball. I saw some plays that he made scrambling in the first football game that he didn't make last year. You can see that he has worked extremely hard to take his game to another level this summer. He's got some very capable receivers. This is Western Kentucky and if you don't know, that's where Coach Harbaugh used to coach. Jack was a Bowling Green guy, so I'll never forget when he won that FCS national championship and came up and spoke - I guess that would've been 14 years ago when they won that national championship. So not much different than the type of football program that Youngstown State is. They've won a lot of football games and you can see that that program is in good hands."
What do you have to focus on doing well against a team like Western Kentucky?
"The number of reps that they got - 101 snaps is quite a few reps in a football game. So they're going fast-paced. We're going to have to take care of the things we can take care of first, and that is playing fresh, playing through rotations that have to be already figured out - not during the middle of the game. We've got to put pressure on him and you've got to be able to communicate. When you're playing the no-huddle football teams, communication to the players - not just call but situation - is so crucial. And those are things that we've been working on. We've got a drill called sparring drill where we're trying to get in as many reps as we can in this number of minutes. So if we have a five-minute period, we're trying to get 15 plays in - that's three plays a minute. So we put our players in some stress modes physically, plus also being able to communicate with one another - `on a third-and-5, do I play off, do I play tighter' - those types of things. So that's what we have to be able to do to be successful against them."
On Donovonn Young:
"You know, I make my players before a football game, they write a mission statement. What they want to get accomplished on Saturday. I look at them on Sunday and that's one of the great things you get to do as a head coach because you get to see if the kid's been successful. DY said he wanted to spark the offense and, my God, he did. He sparked the offense. He gave us some great juice when he was out there on that football field, especially in that fourth quarter."