On the defensive potential for the Illini this season:
"One thing I'm proud of this team for is the way we fought. This situation could've turned south, but I was proud of the way the guys stood up and fought all the way to the end. The team definitely showed heart and with a performance like that, we can find the things we need to improve on."
DB Earnest Thomas III
On the defense's tackling struggles:
"The bottom line is that we just have to wrap up. The one thing that will help with that is everyone going to the ball on defense. It's definitely something that can be corrected and it will be a focus of our practices in the upcoming weeks. I don't think the pace of the game had anything to do with the tackling struggles, but I think our fundamentals just got out of whack at times in the game. We need to consistently focus on our fundamentals."
On his 72-yard TD reception and overall offensive performance:
"It was a momentum swing for us -- guys were really fired up after that and started to play like we had a chance to win this game. We never gave up and that was really positive to see out there. The main issue was that we left plays out there; we didn't capitalize on every play. If we would have, obviously we would've put more points up on the board. We're going to check the tape this week and go from there."
On the Illini's level of optimism:
"It's a long season ahead, so we should definitely be looking at the situation with a glass half-full mentality. We've got a bye week coming up and then our last non-conference test will be Miami of Ohio at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. We're excited about the opportunities ahead of us and also getting some rest on our bye week and allowing our bodies to recover."
On the missed offensive opportunities:
"You saw last week with Cincinnati that we were able to put the pressure on them early, but (against Washington) we felt like we left points out there in the first half. Then in the second half when we started putting points up, it was good to see the positive results. We're a team that wants to put the pressure on early, put the pedal to the metal and really force the other team to make adjustments."