Ron Zook Gives Illini New Feel

Champaign, IL - A crowd of 50112 fans were at Memorial Stadium Saturday in Champaign. The first three quarters looked like the past three years, and those fans became restless. Read here for more on Zook's first game as the head man in Illinois.

This year the slogan for the Illinois football program is "Believe". In years past, the Illini knew each time they took the field that they might be beat. Head Coach Ron Zook is a much different look than former Coach Ron Turner. Last year there was no way that the team (down 27-7) would fight back to win this game.

During half-time Zook told his troops, "We got them right where we want them." The team looked puzzled. This year's Illini may have that swagger that's been missing the past few seasons.

On the win Zook said, "I'm so happy for them. We've rode them, pushed them, and today they were able to enjoy what it's all about. It was a great win for us." Now the Illini need to build on what they started in the second half.

When you saw jersey number #15 take the field, one could only think of the glory days of former Illini quarterback Kurt Kittner. The first half he looked nothing like the former Illini QB. "Being young and being around the program he did fine. He turned the ball over more the first half than since we've been here. Once again, you have to hang in there with him," Zook said.

Zook is optimistic. "We will get better. There are some things we didn't do well on offense; our protection will get better. We have to get better defensively. We got sloppy at times, but we know what we have to do."

There's reason for hope in Champaign. The players believe in Zook - the key is when the players take on the mindset of their new leader. The offense is fun to watch. Once the players get a better feel for it and trust it, good things should happen.

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