Illinois' Kicker Talks Iowa Rivalry

"I did grow up with in a family that loves Iowa. Being 45 minutes away, it is not very uncommon for that. My brother (James) goes to the University of Iowa, and he already told me that he'd cheer for me when I'm out there kicking field goals, but all the other times it's, 'Go Hawks.'"

...on growing up as an Iowa fan:
"I never really cheered for them or against them."

...on his play so far:
"I'm really excited because I've worked very hard this summer to get as consistent as possible. It feels good to see it actually come in to play this season."

...on the elements that go into kicking a field goal:
"Its all just a confidence thing. I've developed my confidence from last year. I worked a lot this summer with (snapper) Kyle Knezetic and (holder) Frank Lenti, and we have a nice flow going right now. Our get-offs are really good, so it's going to be hard to block our kicks this year. The summer work and our confidence has really built a strong relationship for all three of us."

...on the pressure to perform against Iowa:
"Honestly, I look at this game pretty much like any other game, because they are all important. The first and second games are as important as the fourth and fifth games, just because we need to win. Winning is the big thing. I'm not going to look at this game any differently, so I don't get out of my routine or rhythm and screw anything up.

...on the attitude of the coaching staff this week:
"I think it was a normal practice yesterday. They just want us to keep our heads up, keep our focus and put this game behind us. He (Coach Zook) keeps telling us 'you guys our better than you think you are.' He wants us to keep our confidence."

...on Steve Weatherford's encouragement:
"It's encouragement and he tries to build my confidence as well. I look up to him because I know he has been in every situation that I'll need to be in. This is his fifth year, so I know I can look up to him for basically anything I need."

...on any added distractions playing against Iowa:
"I'll definitely have to turn my phone off, because I know I'll have plenty of relatives calling me trying to mess with me a little bit. I'm sure there will be some more distractions in this game than others just because everyone is so close. I know I have a bunch of friends coming to the game from the Quad Cities because it is so close. I'm sure they are going to try and talk to me during warm-ups. I know there are going to be added distractions but I'm not going to let that get to me at all. I can't let that get to me."

...on how a game-winning kick against Iowa would mean more than another team:
"A win is a win. I'd be happy to kick it against Iowa or Indiana or whoever we play."

...on how to block out outside factors:
"When I get out there onto the field I really can't tell if there is anything around me. I don't think there should be a problem wherever I am."

...on the attitude of the players this week:
"I think everyone came out a little harder yesterday. Everyone was working a lot harder. The specialists and I went into the indoor facility, but when we came out it looked like everyone was working hard, trying to build their confidence and just keep going and getting past this last game."

...on how to clear a miss from your mind:
"It's never easy to put a miss behind you. I know unfortunately there are going to be misses out there, and when it does happen, you just have to block it out as best you can, or else you are just going to struggle the rest of the season. I try and do whatever I can to get it out of my head. And Steve (Weatherford) helps me out with that, too."

...on what has allowed him to gain the confidence:
"I think experience has a big thing to do with it, and the well-known kick against Northwestern put me in a position where I had a lot of pressure on me, and now I know what it feels like to go out there when I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I feel it built my confidence from last year."

...on feelings during the off-season after missing at Northwestern:
"It hurt, of course, to miss the field goal. I felt that I lost the game for everyone. It was hard for awhile, but I just had to put it behind me because I knew to be successful in the future I would have to put it behind me."

Illini Inquirer Top Stories