Nov. 15, 2011
"OK, this football team coming to town this week is two Hail Marys away from being in the national championship hunt. I mean, I don't think there's a question they're as good as they're perceived. They have a great running back, they have a great quarterback, they play defense - I mean, they play extremely hard and extremely well. Their offensive line is bigger than the Green Bay Packers; they're big guys who have done a great job. Quarterbacks come in and really fit into their system and what they try to do extremely well. With all those things being said, I think our team's excited about this challenge. It's a great challenge and I think - as I told them there's nobody - you know in this state or anywhere else that probably gives us an opportunity to win. That's why they keep score and that's why you play the game and that's what we're gonna do. We're gonna go play and play to the best of our ability."
On the seniors and what they mean to the team:
"Well they, you know, I think every senior group, you know, as Rejus (Arrelious Benn) talked to the team today and, you know, you heard some of the things that he said, I thought were really touching. And you know, everybody tries to look past to get to the next day and Rejus told them - just like Corey (Liuget) told them and all those younger guys told them - you know, guys, enjoy this. This is something that - you know, yeah, we're going through some tough times right now, but that's what life's all about and, you know, you've just got to keep on keeping on. And, you know, they're a bunch of guys that have done a lot of things for the university and I think our program - I think the way they feel about the University of Illinois is important. They love this place and it hasn't gone exactly how they've wanted it to go all the time, but they've also had some good things and I think they've learned an awful lot about the direction that their lives are going to go."
On OL Jack Cornell:
"You know, Jack was going to Michigan State and we were able to get him here. You're right, he's hung around here and just been a guy that's not only been a good football player for us, but he's also been a good leader for us this year. Particularly, he's been a great leader and a hard worker, and now he's working in Kent (Brown)'s office this summer and, really, I know Kent felt the world about him, just a good person from a good family. You know, we're all going to be sad to, you know, to see it go like that. I mean ask (creative specialist) Frank (Lenti Jr.), it goes so fast and then it's over and then you're like, `What do you do now?' So I think that's the one thing that, you know, anytime you have a senior day, it's hard for them, it's hard for everybody."
On Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson:
"Well, if you look at them as a first- and second-down team, they're a lot like an NFL team. You know they're going to play-action, they're gonna run the football - play-action percent, probably 30 percent play-action. But he's just a - obviously a very, very talented guy, a very, very mature guy. Here's a guys who has played in professional baseball. He's an older guy, you know, he understands what big games are all about and he's a great player. But I go back, once again, to our guys. They want to play great players and they want to get the opportunity - this quarterback (Wilson) here, this running back (Montee Ball) here are really, really good players. But he's (Wilson) a guy that can do it all."
Have you been around a team with two halves of a season so different?
"You know, I don't know that I have. I've thought back about that, I've talked to my wife about that as well. You know, there's a lot of things that happen to it. I think football a lot of times becomes a mental game. You get a break here, you get a break there, you make a play here, and you make a play there. Things can happen and it can kind of go on, but I haven't, no. And that's why, you know, we're gonna make some changes. I think you have to make changes; you have to do things differently. Otherwise, you're going to get the same results and I think we owe that to the fans as well, to do some things differently."
On this week's personnel changes:
"There will be a lot of changes, yeah. Well, I shouldn't say a lot of changes, but there will be some (different) things out there. I'm not going to get into exactly what we're going to do. But I think, once again, you have to do some things differently, and if nothing else, just to change up. Things that have happened are not for lack of hard work or not lack of practice or not for the lack of preparation. These guys have worked their tails off...practices have been good, I've said that. They're doing everything that they can do, but we as a coaching staff, we've got to help them. Whether it be different plays, different players, different tempo, whatever it is we've got to do it to help them."
On whether or not Wisconsin's offense overshadows their defense:
"Well, they're really good. I mean, they play extremely hard and, you know, I think when you've got two marquee players, particularly the quarterback and the running back. I'm sure Bret (Bielema) doesn't overlook them because they are very, very valuable to what they're doing and the way they're playing. You know, once again, when things are going good, everybody's playing well and playing hard and doing all the things that you have to do."
How do you keep the team from feeling like the season is going in a downward direction?
"Well, you talk about it. You talk about it a ton - about where we are and where we're going. You know there's not a lot more you can do other than handle what you have. I told them Sunday afternoon that, you know, we learned a lesson before, maybe, it could have been a critical lesson. And I don't fault anybody...for what happened this weekend in terms of other than maybe being out late. But, you know, they weren't the guys playing, they were the guys that don't play and, you know, just like you probably would have done with your own children, I mean, you don't want them out late and if they're out late, then what are you gonna do? Well, I mean, I think that's part of growing up and so forth, but when you've got problems, that's when you find out what kind of people you are and what kind of person you are and you've just got to keep on keeping on and work through it."