Lovie: 'Sense of relief' after MSU win

Illinois coach Lovie Smith discusses the Illini's 31-27 win over Michigan State and previews this week's trip to No. 7 Wisconsin

Opening Statement
"A little bit of time to go over the last game briefly, first, I thought our team played extremely hard throughout. I thought we were physical, probably the most physical football game we've played all year. Talking defensively, whenever you're on the field for that many plays, you know, just picture our defensive linemen. Dawuane Smoot getting 80 plays, that takes an awful lot out of you. The last play of the game he played as hard as he did the first one. Tré Watson, of course, was named defensive player of the conference and rightfully so. I thought he was physical, involved in a lot of the action, a lot of tackles. You can say that about a lot of our defense, guys stepping up. You get an opportunity, that's what you need to do. Simple as that, so we found a way to win. Offensively they didn't get the type of start that we wanted but we finished the right way so, big game for us. Of course it's on to Wisconsin. A few injuries from the game, of course, nothing major to report. Hopefully some of the guys that are nursing injuries will be a little closer to playing this week."

On DL Dawuane Smoot's Progression 
"Well, he's a great player. He started off with that. He works as hard as anybody on the team, he's got talent; everything you're looking for. He can rush; he normally deals with a couple people each game. In this game, again, he started off strong and was just a hard guy to block. They put a lot of different people on him so he's an impactful player. He's going to play in the league for a lot of years."

On the Importance of the Win Against Michigan State
"
I think you just get to the point where you keep pounding the rock, eventually you see a crack. I don't think it was a movie, you just can't- it's a little bit bigger than just that. I think you just stay the course and eventually you get over the hump. I think that where we are, we got over the hump last week. Now it's about putting a big game together back-to-back. When you accomplish something that you worked so hard for, there is a sense of relief, a little bit. We haven't celebrated at home in a long time and it was great to see that happen on a special Dad's Weekend and all that."

On No Longer Leading the Big Ten in Penalties  
"You know, there's an emphasis put on not having that many [penalties] early on. I think you have to get to a point where you see how penalties can hurt you as much as anything. We've talked a lot about it; just keep working on it just like anything else you don't like. The last three or four games the penalties have gone down. We were leading the Big Ten; we're not there anymore. You don't want to be in that slot. Hopefully that will continue."

On the Upcoming Illinois-Wisconsin Matchup 
"Coach Chryst does a good job. We have a long history together as I've talked about and what you see is a traditional Big Ten powerhouse. Big emphasis on running the football, play action passes, good hard-nose defense on the other side of the ball, play together as a team- that's what we're going to see. We know we're going to have to be at the top of our game. We'll need to play better than we did this past week. We realize who we're playing, but what an opportunity for our young football team to have a chance to play a great team like that, to have to go on the road and play a better game than we played this past week."


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