Ron Turner on Boers & Bernstein

In his weekly apperance on the Boers & Bernstein show, Coach Turner and Boers & Bernstein discussed how the Illini are playing not to lose. They also discussed how the switches at the quarterback position in the last two weeks may have affected the team's confidence.

Terry Boers: Illinois Head Coach Ron Turner has joined us. And really Ron like I just mentioned, the next couple of weeks, not a problem really. Michigan at home and then Minnesota on the road should not be a problem in any way.

Ron Turner: No, I don't think so.

Boers: You're okay then?

Turner: Yeah, definitely.

Dan Bernstein: What are the realistic expectations for your guys against Michigan?

Turner: Well, you know we've got to go out and play better. At times, we are playing really well. We are just not playing well at times when we need to make a play. This last game, especially in the first half, I thought our guys came out tight. We were very focused, and really into the game, but almost like too much afraid, can't make a mistake. We came out and we had a third and two and a third and three on the first two possessions and didn't convert either one. And both times there were plays right there to be made. We didn't have to do anything special. You know, just do your job and you will make the play. I think we were a little tentative or whatever. Just not real confident.

Defensively, we had them in a third and nine, and two third and tens and a third and eleven that they converted in the first quarter and a half. So, you know you have got to find a way to get those stops, and you have got to find a way to make those plays on offense to generate a little confidence. That is what we need right now. We need a couple of good things like that to happen to get us on a roll.

Boers: So more playing not to lose, instead of playing to win?

Turner: Yeah, I think this last game we did, especially early. Then we settled down and we just started playing football, and we played good football for a while. You know, we played like we are capable. That is obviously my job as a coach, and our job as coaches to get them with that mindset. For them to go out and play and it's just like anything in sports, you can't play not to lose. You can't play afraid to make a mistake. We've got some young guys right now that I think are doing that.

Bernstein: When you say that guys are looking over their shoulder a little bit, or are playing afraid of making a mistake. How can you ... (pause) ... When you set the tone by jerking the quarterbacks around, and being undecided about the quarterbacks, you can't fault them for being a little concerned when the marquee position on the team is one in which you are so quick to make a change.

Turner: Yeah, you've got a good point. There is definitely some truth to that. You know, hopefully the guys are going to have enough confidence are going to to go out there and play, but also know that they've got to perform. So there is a fine line there. You've got to go out and perform, you know to stay there. Yet, you don't want to look over your shoulder playing scared. That's the nature of this game. That's the nature of any game. You've got to go out and play and let it go. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake. That's the point we are trying to get across to these guys.

If you make a physical mistake, that's going to happen. You are going to drop a pass, or miss a throw, or miss a block, or whatever. You're going against good athletes and that's going to happen. The mistakes I am talking about are being tentative, or more mental mistakes. Not doing what you are supposed to do. Again, I think it goes back to confidence.

Boers: Well, now have you made your decision on who is going to start at quarterback on Saturday, yet?

Turner: No, we haven't. We are going to go into practice this week and see how they do.

Boers: Alright, here's my take on it. And I want to ask you this, when you make your decision Ron, and I know you pulled Beutjer again on Saturday. When you look at this do you see things from where you are standing on the sideline that you know he missed? Because obviously maybe you do, or someone's telling you from upstairs. I don't know what your view is like and if you can see everything that quickly. I don't know if the game does move at that pace for you, or now when you look at it, do you go back over the game again, during Monday, or Tuesday, or Sunday whenever, and kind of look at it and say 'Yeah, he missed this, he missed this, and he missed that.' Or is it not that kind of process at all?

Turner: Well, yeah it is, it is. Obviously on game day, we are looking to see what's missed form what I can get on the sidelines and from what I can get in the press box. But, sometimes it's more than that. Like I said, guys are going to miss throws. I've had many quarterbacks miss throws and miss things and not take them out. It's more of the demeanor, more of the attitude. And if somebody's not making the throws, or is tentative and is late making the throws, that's more of what I look at.

That is what I saw in Jon on Saturday. He did some good things, but there were times on Saturday. He did some good things, but there were times when I thought he was a little tentative. Whether that has to do with confidence, and I'm sure it does. But, you have to let it go. If you make mistakes, you will make mistakes. But at least go out and let it go.

Boers: So you don't look at sheer numbers and say 'Oh my god! Look at these numbers, this is just not going well for us.'

Turner: No, not at all. I mean Jon was 10-14 in the first half. So, I definitely do not look at numbers. When Kurt Kittner was here, he had some halves that were just brutal. He had some halves where he would throw three interceptions and be 6-22, or something like that. But, it's just the approach that somebody takes, and how they are going about it that we try to look at.

Boers: Aren't you surprised at Beutjer? I mean at this this stage, he's been around forever. He's been with you for a long time. I mean, it seemed a good thing when he made the decision to come back to you guys. Because you know, that gave you something to build on for this year. At least a guy to build around again. Are you surprised? I guess I'm asking, what's wrong with him?

Turner: Well, you know I don't know. Like I said, he's doing some good things. Early in the year he was playing with a ton of confidence. He had a great spring, and a great camp as I aid many times. He came out the first game and really played well. You know, against UCLA he played okay. He didn't play as well. Then he got the injury. I don't know if that is still in the back of his mind. Physically I think he's fine. Mentally, I don't know if that is still there or what. But he is not playing as aggressively as he wasearly.

Bernstein: Do you think his confidence would have stayed at the level where you wanted it, if you would have just told him 'Look you're going to make a lot of mistakes. If you do, and make some of these aggressive mistakes, it's fine. But you are not going to lose your job this year, unless there is an unforeseen circumstance.' If you had just really committed to him, do you think he would have had a better time confidence wise?

Turner: I don't know because we did have that conversation, and the commitment was there. Obviously, it was not set down in stone. 'Hey you're playing no matter what happens.' But it was made very clear that he's playing well and he was our guy. He was going to stay in there and be our quarterback. You know, obviously once the confidence starts to go, or you see that aggressiveness start to go, then it changes things a little bit. But, we did have that approach with him at the start of the year.

Boers: Yeah, we had the same conversation about this time last year, Ron. About the movements of the quarterbacks and everything. We were talking philosophically and everything, and just a year later its still going on. You go to yourself, what is going on?

Turner: Yeah, exactly. I remember the conversation, and I agree totally. I said it then, and I will say it now you know you would love to have one guy and have him in there and go with him. You know he is not going to play perfect, and he is going to make mistakes, and go with that guy. It just hasn't been able to be the case.

Boers: Alright, well, good luck against Michigan. We'll let you go. I guess what started out, what meant to be a joke question about what your expectations were against Michigan because I think most people think these next two weeks are going to be bad news.

Turner: Yeah, I think most people think that. As long as the people in this locker room don't think that. And we go out and take care of the things we need to take care of. We believe we always have a chance. We're going into the game expecting to win like we always do, but we know what we have to do and the things we have to improve on to make that happen.

Boers: Alright Ron, good luck this weekend my friend. We'll visit with you next week.

Turner: Thanks, guys.

Bernstein: That's Ron Turner, the Head Coach of the Fighting Illini football team.

Boers: We have the same conversation every year don't we?


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