Oct. 23, 2007
Quoting Head Coach Ron Zook...
...on the crowd at last Saturday's game:
"I've been fortunate enough to be in a lot of great places and a lot of big games. Saturday was probably the most electric crowd that I can remember. I had some friends that came in from Florida and they have never seen a more festive, exciting, energy filled, electric atmosphere than what it was Saturday night. For that reason, it is very important this week that our football team plays the way we are capable of playing. With homecoming this weekend, there are going to be a lot of people coming back. I told our football team last night that it is imperative that we play and prepare the same way we did last week. This game is crucial, imperative and important to us just as it is to Ball State. We are both trying to become bowl eligible. It is important to our staff and that we give our seniors an opportunity to go to a bowl game."
...on Saturday's opponent, Ball State:
"They've got a quarterback that I've had many scouts tell me may be the best in the Midwest. They've got a receiver that is catching everything in sight and has a jet in his tale. Their kick off return may be as good as we've seen all year. Their punter is second or third in the country. They've got a thirty-one year old playing on the defensive line and they all play very hard. It's going to be a heck of a football game. It's going to be a game where our guys have to be very focused and prepare the same way we did last week. I thought we did have great preparation last week. We've gone through as a team and staff and said the things we have to do to win a football game. A lot of those things I think we accomplished last week, but there were some mistakes that we made that we hadn't made in the past. I'm not sure of the reason. It could have been that it was such a big game, or the energy that we were drawing in from our crowd maybe took them to another level that they weren't a custom to. I think that's all part of the learning process. Our guys were devastated in the locker room, just like they were the week before. As a coach, that's important to me because it means it's important to them and they do care. The way we came out in practice last night, they are going to do everything in their power to get back on track."
...on the benefits of playing in a bowl game:
"The No. 1 thing is that it gives you the opportunity to get 13 or 14 practices and particularly with a young group it gives you an opportunity to continue to practice and continue getting guys more experience. Anytime you play in an atmosphere like that, a different atmosphere, the more we are going to mature and the better we are going to be able to handle it."
...on how bowl participation helps with recruiting:
"It's important. Guys want to have an opportunity to play and help take a program to the next level. As a team, we wish we could just turn the page over and be where we are supposed to be. No one wishes that more than myself. But, it is something that we have to go through as much as it hurts and tears us apart. I feel bad for our fans because they are playing a top five right now and we're not. But, we're going to get to that point. For now, we need to maintain progress and stay on course."
...on whether or not a ninth Big Ten game each season would be a good idea:
"In my own opinion, it was unanimous in the coaches meeting to not play the ninth Big Ten game. I don't think there's any problem with stepping out of the league for a game or two. This is the third of our season and we've got four games to go. We've got twenty-six days left and we've got to turn up the wick and go."
...on Ball State's quarterback
"He is a thrower, a winger, a slinger and he can run the ball. He's a tough guy that will block on reverses. He's got people hanging all over him and an unbelievably quick release. He reminds me of a more athletic quarterback then the guy that we faced in the first game with his release and accuracy. He is another perfect example of recruiting. There is no exact science to recruiting."
...on Illinois' offense over the past few weeks:
"There are a lot of things that we do in our offense that don't necessarily force the defense to be option sound. I think the biggest problem we had on offense was two weeks ago we didn't get off the field defensively because of third downs. Last week, we didn't get of the field because we were making foolish penalties. That is once again, something that we have not done in the past. We have to get those things corrected because the more snaps you take, the more times you have to run the option or whatever you feel like is moving for you."
...Ball State and on the importance of Homecoming:
"This football team does not give us the opportunity to do any thing but play our very best. The thing we're trying to do is win football games. I'm more concerned with winning and doing what ever gives us the best opportunity to win the game. Ball State is a good football team and we're going to have to be ready to go. We owe it to our seniors and our fans. This is Homecoming, and Homecoming is for the people who have already been here. It's a good feeling when you see the Tim Brasics and the former players on the sidelines. I've told the last two classes that they're just as big a part of this program. They've had a lot to do with the building of this program. They are the foundation. Even though you can't see the foundation, you have to have it and we're still building. It's important that we go out there and play the way we are capable of playing."
...on the fumbled punt and other mistakes throughout the game with Michigan:
"Regis is still on kickoff return and Kyle is still on punts. No one feels worse than Kyle Hudson. I sat and talked to him a little bit Saturday night and a little bit last night. I told him that one of the things that goes along with playing big time sports in a big time arena is when things don't go the way you want them to do. No one is more tore up about it than him. He's got to get back our their and catch punts, and it hasn't been a problem until then. For whatever reason it happened and I feel horrible for him. There are about four or five big plays a game that are going to have a big impact on the game, not that that play is any more important than the others. Just because Joe ran into the punter doesn't mean we're going to quit blocking punts because that's what we do. That was the first time it's happened in a couple of years. We can't get conservative because those are some of the things we've worked very hard to perfect. When you come after punts there are occasions when that can happen. We made some mistakes in the kicking game and I talked to them about it last night. We did some things offensively and defensively that we were pretty good. The one thing to be a great program is that your special teams have to be consistent every game. You can't have a mistake here or a mistake there. We had some mistakes that we hadn't had in the past."