Coach Ron Zook Answers The Media's Questions

Coach Ron Zook
Coach Ron Zook

Sept. 11, 2007

Tuesday Multimedia:
Head Coach Ron Zook
at Media Luncheon
Under the Helmet
A Visit with
DL Will Davis
WR Joe Morgan AUDIO
The Other Side
teleconference with Syracuse Head Coach Greg Robinson
Complete Multimedia Listings:

Quoting Head Coach Ron Zook...

...on Saturday's game:

"Obviously, we had a lot more fun on Saturday than we've had in the past. If you couldn't tell by last week, the other outcome was getting old. I think we are making progress. We told our football team, 'Enjoy this. You have 24 hours to enjoy this. Then we are going back to work.' I was very excited on the way they went back yesterday. They had good meetings, the concentration at practice was good and it was an overall much better feeling. Now we have to continue to improve and do the things that they are asked to do."

...on last year's Syracuse game:

"It provides a lot of motivation for me. Obviously, the last time we played, they won. It was at our place, with very similar programs. They are in their third year and we are in our third year. We got a challenge, but we have to take care of ourselves. If our program is going to get to where we want it to get to, we've got to learn from a lot of things, but we have to learn from the things that have happened to us."

...on learning from the past:

"Anytime that the opinion of our football team has been a little more positive, we haven't handled it that well. I think that it is important to be a program that continues to improve. I think that every football team in America wants to progress and get better as the season progresses, and that is the thing that we will have to continue to do."

...on the the notion that the Illinois offense struggled against Western Illinois:

"I'm not sure how much we struggled last week. When we put 400 yards up, that's a lot of yards. Some people may say that it's a 1-AA opponent. It's a pretty good team. If you look back at the Wisconsin game last year, Wisconsin was a pretty good team last year and I don't think they had that many yards (against Western Illinois). I can't remember how many off the top of my head. I think that we have to continue to improve in all three phases of the game. I don't know how much (Syracuse) struggled on their defense. I mean they are pretty physical up front. They have a linebacker, the rookie for them, number 52. I mean he is all everything, all Big East. I had to take a retake. He had been a good player. They got a safety that can play anywhere. They got a defensive end that had played with Regis from Dunbar. I mean, it'll be a hard physical game. There's no question. Plus, it's a tough place to play."

...on playing indoors:

"This was a question that I got last night. We played in a dome in the first game and it was a great place to play. It was a little warm, but that dome had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. It was the team that we were playing and the mistakes that we made. We will go up there, and I know from my own personal history, it's a tough place to play up there. It's loud. They get into it and it sometimes gets crazy. It's not air-conditioned, I just found that out. So I'm sure it's going to be hot, but we go in the indoor facility and it's hot in there too. So it's not something that our guys are concerned about."

...on playing on the road:

"Maybe we take too good of care of them. And we do. And they do enjoy going on the road. Our guys are excited. I felt like last night, when we were sitting here with the media that they were excited. Prepared. They were like, 'Let's get this thing going, let us continue to improve.' I said this last night; we have to take care of us. I mean Syracuse is the opponent and if we aren't ready to play, we are going to get land blasted. We have to take care of us. There are so many other things that we can control. That's kind of the approach that we are taking."

DB Miami Thomas

...on any depth chart changes:

"I think that Cassie made me change Miami (Marcus Thomas) in the secondary. He played a little bit on Saturday, so we'll try to get him in there. He's a guy that's going to be a talented corner. He's really a lot further ahead than I ever thought he was going to be at this point in time coming off a shoulder injury surgery that he had. I think that he's going to be a heck of a football player for us."

...on when Miami Thomas' surgery was:

"He had it, I believe, in the end of April or the first of May."

...on punting:

"Obviously, we would like to have a longer net. My brother happened to be here yesterday at practice and I was watching the tape this morning and he's watching him pound them out there. 45, 52, 46, 47, 48. Now you have to understand why I get so frustrated. The guy has the ability to do that. He has the potential to do that. He's just got to go relax and punt the football. He can punt it. He can get the football off. Sometimes, the one inside the 20, Joe should have probably handled. That's something that we worked on last night as well is those flyers. When they get down there, they got to keep that ball from going into the end zone. I still think that we are much improved in our punting game from last year. We're not where we have to be, but we're going to get there."

...on using two punt returners:

"That's a legitimate question. It really is pertinent because we've talked about it. It depends on your philosophy and your punting game as well. I think that if you go back and look at the teams that have two people back there, they are return teams. You look at the teams that are the best special teams; they have guys that are returners. You know, the guys who have that knack. I talked to Kyle last night and told him, 'You were a centerfielder.' The coaches were kidding him and teasing him too. But he's got to catch those. I think Kyle, this being his first year, the more experience he gets, the more confidence he'll get. He's going to get those; he's going to catch those balls. I think a little of it had to do with, I don't know if you remember Saturday night, but it was a little heavy and even a little foggy. I think that he might have lost a little concentration. But the teams that put two guys back there are return teams. I like to have the ability to make people understand that we can come after them too. I think that we've gotten better. If you go back to the first two games, our breakers set up the first scores in the first games. One was obviously the block set up by Vontae. Their punter did a nice job last week, but a couple of the punts that he shanked were because Vontae was in there and flashed across his face. When you have a threat of blocking a punt that makes you a little nervous."

...on adjusting the defense against Missouri:

"Good news is the (Missouri) offense is in the same family as our offense. There are some similarities. We've gone against a spread offense all year. They (Missouri) are different. They spread you out a little more. The quarterback is a proven guy. You can tell that he's a winner, a competitor and has unbelievable accuracy. We've had scouts tell us that he reminds them of Drew Brees, which is not necessarily good for us. He is a very experienced player that can really throw the football. They have those two big tight ends that make catches and go up use there body against a smaller DB or even a linebacker. The fact that we've been going against are own offense everyday is going to help us. As much as we can, we want to keep our best 11 players on the field. Antonio Steeles and Britt Miller are two guys, two good players that have played a lot. When we have them on the field, we want them in the positions where they can be most successful."

...on the new north stands at Memorial Stadium:

"I don't think it's any question (that the wind is different in the stadium). It did last night. During the game, when the fireworks went off, the smoke kind of hung around. Maybe it hung in there because of the north end zone. I don't know. It is a pretty sight though, isn't it? I was watching Syracuse from last year, and it had the north end zone. It's like a different stadium. The scoreboard looked like it was ten feet off the ground. If you go back and look at what it looked like last year and what it looks like now. It's really exciting."

DB Dere Hicks

...on Dere Hicks:

"Yeah, he's got a strained calf. Practiced last night, didn't go through individuals. He was upset about that. They made him ride the bike and kind of warm it up, but he went through all the team stuff. That's just one of those things that we just want to be more careful than anything. Because that is something that can prolong if you're not careful."

...on the teams Syracuse has played:

"I think that's the thing that you have to understand. They played a pretty good Washington team. We all know that it can be tough sometimes to play in Iowa. There are a lot of teams out there that could be 0-2 with the teams they played.

...on the pressures that college football coaches face:

"That's the nature that we live in. That's what makes football the great sport that it is. People do care. It's important to them. Frank Beamer used to talk about, "Saturday afternoon is the one time that everybody that is associated with, for example University of Illinois, whether you like sports or you don't like sports, whether you're an academic or not. It's the one day that everybody can be on the same side, the same page, pull for the same colors. That's the thing that makes football what it is across the country."

...on whether Syracuse Head Coach Greg Robinson is feeling pressure to win:

"I'm sure, I've heard a lot of heat too. He's been in a long time. He's a good football coach. He'll be fine. I just hope that he waits a week."

...on inproving since the Missouri game:

"For example, I'll go back to last year. We played Eastern. We won kind of handily. Not taking anything away from them, but we weren't really sure where we were. When you played Missouri, it was a good football team. Obviously, we all want to start off winning. That's an important game because of recruiting in St. Louis. I think that it helped us in preparation in camp. We knew we were getting ready to play a good football team. I think that it proved that they are a good football team, as long as that quarterback keeps doing what he does. There are a lot of teams that are going to have a problem with them. They are pretty good. We were forced to get an idea of the teams that we're going to play in the Big Ten Conference. That's the kind of competition that we're going to have. I think that we came out here and we got better. I know some people may not think so, but there's no doubt in our minds that we got better as a football team on Saturday. We still got a long way to go, but I think that we've made some improvements. I feel like our players think that we've made some improvements. Like I said, last night, I felt like for the first time in a while, that they were excited about going out there and practicing and getting ready."