Lovie Smith: 'We'll take the win'

Illini coach Lovie Smith discusses his first Big Ten win, a 24-7 triumph at Rutgers

Opening Statement: “Whenever you take the ball away five times and have two fourth down stops, you should be talking about a win. Rutgers played hard throughout. Just some tough breaks for them. Defense wise, our guys stepped up, Darius Mosely, we started him for the first time in the nickel position and that was probably the play of the game, that long interception return. He did a great job returning punts too. Times like when you have a four-game losing streak going, you need to have someone elevate their game. He did. Offensively, Chase (Crouch) kind of picked up where he left off from last week. Just tough play from the quarterback position. We didn’t score as many points as we wanted to. We’ll keep building on with him. Running back wise, Ke’Shawn Vaughn getting in, of course that was a big play. We had some individual efforts that gave us a chance to win. I thought the defensive line did a good job rushing. Carroll Phillips coming in, playing the second half. Dawune Smoot, his normal game. A lot of things to like. I didn’t like missing those two field goals. There are some things to clean up, but we’ll take the win. A road win is always hard to come by.


On getting the first Big Ten win: “Just a win. It’s been a long time, since the first game of the season. Just that and to get a road win too. There’s a lot of history in this stadium. First time for our guys in this stadium and for our guys to come get a win should give us some confidence going into next week.


Update on quarterback Wes Lunt’s status: “We didn’t dress (Lunt). He wasn’t ready to go. He’s making progress. We decided to hold him this week.”


On quarterback Chase Crouch’s shoulder: “If he was hurt, we wouldn’t have him out there playing. Did he take a few shots? Yeah. There’s some soreness. Quite a few guys have that. This was a physical football game.”


On running back Kendrick Foster: “Pleased. I think I’ve said that quite a few times with Kendrick. Again, the running back position, all three of those guys have found a way and they all had big plays today. Reggie Corbin, he had two. We talked about Ke’Shawn Vaughn. We’ve been getting great play from that tailback position.


On showing multiple back sets: “We’re trying to get our playmakers the ball, but we have some receivers that can catch the ball. As much as anything, we want to have balance and keep defenses off balance. The more guys you play in different roles will do that.”


On the first half penalties: “We’re constantly coaching up penalties. Sometimes you don’t get that done. There were some bad penalties in the first half. It comes to a point where you need to show more discipline. Again, I’m not talking about all the play hard penalties, some of the post, pre snap we have to eliminate. Looking at the glass half full, we did a lot better job in the second half in all areas.


On forcing turnovers: “I think when you take the ball away five times, most of the time that says win.”


On starting new guys on defense: “Trying to find combinations to win football games. There are different reasons why you like games playing. Maybe a player hadn’t played as well as we need at the position, somebody else gets the opportunity. We’ve been in that situation a few times. Then you get in the game and you see who is playing good at the time and you make adjustment just like everything else.”


On a sense of relief in getting a win: “We feel good about winning the football game, yes. About this one game. You have to celebrate every game to feel good about it. Sense of relief? Yeah. You can give it a few different descriptions. There definitely was a lot of excitement. There’s nothing like seeing a locker room after a big win and that’s what we had today. We want it to become more than an every once-in-a-while thing.”


On the mind set coming into the game: “For us, we go in thinking every game is a winnable game. It was about us eliminating some of the mistakes whether it be penalties and not finishing a football game. The last couple of week we had opportunities to win against a top 10 team and last week at home. It was about finishing today. We finished today.”


On putting the game away in the fourth quarter: “Very pleased. It takes a while to build a program. That’s where we are. We found things out each week. We have gotten better each week. Eventually if you continue to get better and do some things right, eliminate some of things that are bad that you are doing wrong, you win football games.”


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