Minnesota Manhandles Illinois

Illinois' Big Ten losing streak was extended to thirteen consecutive games with a 45-0 blowout loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Metrodome. Illinois was not able to muster any offense on the game, nor were they able to slow down the Minnesota running game. Marion Barber III rushed for two touchdowns and threw another while Laurence Moroney rushed for one touchdown as Minnesota totaled 588 total yards, 321 on the ground.

Saturday's game could best be described as a train wreck for the Illini football program, and one I could not turn away from. In the first quarter, it was a battle of field position, where neither Illinois nor Minnesota could take advantage of where they were on the field. Minnesota eventually broke through for a 17-0 lead heading into the half. After the first drive of the second half ended with a Jason Reda field goal bouncing off the right, Minnesota sucked the life out of Illinois, and closed out the game with 21 third quarter points.

Ron Turner's efforts to find a solution at the quarterback position led to a quarterback shuffle. Brad Bower started the game, but he was replaced by Chris Pazan in the second quarter. Bower later replaced Pazan in the second half, before Pazan eventually again replaced Bower. Turner could not make up his mind as to which quarterback was the best to lead the Illinois offense, but the indecisiveness didn't matter as the quarterback switches were an effort in futility.

Here are Ron Turner's post game comments that were aired on the Illini Radio Network.

Steve Kelly: What do you say to your football team after a ball game like this?

Ron Turner: Well, I told them that the next three weeks are going to define them as individuals and them as a football team. Whatever direction we go, they go as individuals, and we go as a football team is going to really be with them for the rest of their lives. That's how you have to respond when you get yourself in these situations. You can feel sorry for yourselves. If you do, you can continue to get trampled. Or you can come with the right attitude and try to fight your way out of it.

Steve: What were your thoughts on the team's effort today?

Turner: I don't think played really good football, obviously. There were some great opportunities early. We have great field position offensively. We had them pinned back in their defensively. Had great opportunities in the first quarter, and didn't take advantage of it. We didn't play well. We didn't block nearly well enough.

Steve: Early in the third quarter you were moving the ball. The field goal hits the upright. Did that kind of let the wind out of the sails?

Turner: Yeah, I think it did. At that point, I mean it came at half time. I could see the confidence was not where it needed to be. I could see it in the second quarter with guys coming off the field. You could see it in their eyes. We did not have the confidence that we needed to have, and we needed to have something good happen. We got the ball in the start of the third quarter and took it down and put together the only good drive maybe we had all day. First and goal on the nine yard line and come away with no points. Yeah, I definitely think it did.

Steve: Their running game was as good as advertised. Illinois' running game, not as good as normal today.

Turner: Yeah, their running game is very good. We knew that. Early on defensively we did a good job against their run. We just couldn't get anything going offensively to get our defense off the field. We were three and out too many times, and weren't able to do much. As the game went on obviously they wore us down and their running game was as good as advertised. We couldn't get anything going with the running game. We came out, tried to get our running game going early. We just didn't block well enough to get our running game going.

Steve: Looking for a positive, you would have to look at STeve Weatherford with the way he punted the ball today.

Turner: Yeah, that's definitely a positive. I am not sure if there are a whole lot of others. But that definitely was a positive. He's been playing that way the whole year for us.

Steve: Do you think you can keep the guys up going into the last three games?

Turner: Well, we're going to have to. Like I told them, it will define them as individuals, and us as a team. If we put our heads down and feel sorry for ourselves, like I said we're going to get trampled. And that is how it is in life. In ten years, fifteen years, twenty years when these guys face problems, if they start feeling sorry for themselves, they are going to be in trouble. You have to learn to fight. Hopefully they will come out with the right attitude and go back to work and show the character that I really believe this football team has.

Steve: Coach, thank you sir.

Turner: Thank you.

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