After a loss to the Purdue Boilermakers, and the next game against the Spartans from Michigan St.

TURNER- Obviously we are very disappointed with our performance on Saturday. We have got find a way to make some plays and do what we can to do stay in the game. We started off 20-0 and for the second week in a row we were behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter. We have to find a way to get out of the gate stronger and faster. We need to find a way to do something positive and get some confidence. That's what we need right now. Early in the year we were playing our hearts out, playing with great passion, playing for one another and laying it on the line and just came up a little bit short. Defensively our confidence is a little shaken but we need positive results. That is human nature. We need to have something good happen to us, but we need to make something good happen to us, something to build on. That's hopefully what we'll go out and try to do this weekend.

Question (name inaudible): If I could ask you to go back a week or so, when you look at Lee Evans now, compared to the player he was two years ago before the injury, do you think the surgery has taken anything away from what he was, or do you see pretty much the same player?

TURNER- If anything I see a better one. He's fast, he's strong, he's a great player. He is very instinctive and aggressive and can go after the ball. He's maybe a little bit faster. He can play football like no one else can and he's better than before.

Question (name inaudible): It's been a couple years since you won the Big Ten Championship and you have struggled a bit. Can you document the struggles you have had since then?

TURNER: It's hard to pinpoint any one thing. Obviously, we're not making plays when we need to make them. We started out slow last year and I think it had to do with some chemistry things. I think we had a lot of good players…we had good players, and I don't know if we were a good team early. We came together at the end of the year and won four out of the last six games, built some confidence and finished on a high note, and we were hoping it would carry over to this year and unfortunately it didn't happen. We are very young, especially offensively, we felt the strength of our team was going to be our defense, and they would have to carry us early until our offense came along. Unfortunately, we have had some injuries and gotten thin up front, and I think that's really hurt us, not to make excuses, but we have been in games early, had chances to score points early and we didn't find a way to do it. We played our hearts out and played with passion, we just didn't find a way to win those games. Human nature says you need to be rewarded, or your confidence will be shaken. I think that has happened the last couple of weeks.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

Well, it is part of the job and I would be lying if it wasn't. The thing is deep down I know what we're doing is right, and I know we are practicing the right way, and we are recruiting the way we should recruit and we've got some really good players on this campus, and I really don't think we are that far off. We have some areas to improve on, but we just have to do what we believe in. In tough times, you have to go back to that motivation to have something to believe in, and I know what we are doing right and we need to stick with it, and that's what we need to tell our players.

QUESTION: Just wanted to ask you about last week against Purdue, spread offense will be seen again this week, is there any benefit from that or were you surprised that Purdue ran the football more than you thought?

TURNER: No, I wasn't very surprised. It was the focus we had the week before, that they could run the ball at us. Purdue's done that before when they have had the opportunity. They can go two receivers and tight ends and run the ball. If they can do it, they will do it. They have been more committed to the run the last two weeks. They did not really do anything that surprised us, but they can spread the ball out. We did prepare for that and we will see the same thing against a great Michigan State offense. They are very talented, very explosive, and have I think the best quarterback in the conference.

QUESTION: Can you talk about Halsey and what he's been able to do coming in as a freshman after a year out…can you comment on his composure…?

TURNER: Yeah, he's a tremendous competitor and tremendous player. There are some kids who come in and just know how to play, and he's one of those kids. They can do well in practice, but when the lights go on they get a little nervous, and it takes them several games or a year to gain experience, to feel comfortable and know how to play. But he's one of those guys who could from day one. The first time we put him on the field he was making plays, playing with poise, and focus, and he's going to be a good football player.

QUESTION: How much pressure are you feeling personally to turn this thing around, has it gotten to the point where you are concerned about your job being on the line?

TURNER: Yeah, that's part of it, but you can't worry about that. You have to worry about the parts you can control, and what you can control is what you do. We're going to do the things we believe in, do the things we think will help us win, and do things the right way, which I know we are, and the kids are trying as hard as they can and we just have to keep going.

QUESTION: Is that pressure just part of the gig, especially this day in age, with large salaries and all kinds of attention?

TURNER: That's all part of it. The expectations are high, visibility is high, and that's all part of it.

QUESTION: Do you think the expectations are unfair?

TURNER: I don't know if they are unfair, but sometimes unrealistic, but that's what it is this day in age with the expectations and visibility, that's all part of it and you deal with it.

QUESTION: Previously you talked about how Jon's (Beutjer) confidence was sky high, and that gives you a lot of confidence. Where is it now, where is his attitude right now, and how does that affect his teammates?

TURNER: Well, I think his attitude is good and his confidence is still high. But it is not just one guy. We have to play better defensively and play better offensively; we need to run the ball better. We are a young offense and very inconsistent. We do some good things, but not consistently enough. We're getting to the red zone but not putting points on the board. We've had opportunities offensively and been in several games. We've had a chance to win three games if we execute, and when that doesn't happen, your confidence will be shaken. Jon's a good football player and his confidence will stay high.

QUESTION: When you watch (Jeff) Smoker, what is the thing that impresses you most?

TURNER: There's several things. He's got good size, a very quick release; good accuracy, good arm strength, but I really like his poise. He steps up and makes plays when they are not there, he makes plays when they are there, when they are supposed to be there. He moves around in the pocket, and he has great presence, which not everyone can do. He's as good a quarterback as I've seen in a long time.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories