Illinois Remains Hopeful

The Border War rivalry game is taken by the Tigers 52-42. Ron Zook met with the media to talk about yesterday's loss to Missouri.

With a loss like this the entire team and staff may take a look to see just how far off they really are.

"I said after this game I would know where we are," Zook stated. "We didn't play the way we thought we would. I'm not ready to throw the towel in. I know we still have a chance to be a pretty good football team. We're a team on the rise. We're not quite there yet but we're getting there."

With no disrespect to any of the other teams in the Big Ten, Missouri may be one of the top two teams Illinois will face in 2008. Their spread offense was clicking on all cylinders and when that is happening the Tigers can play with anyone.

Throughout most of camp the Illini talked about their defense and believed their defensive line would be a strong part of this team. "I still believe our defensive front is one of the strengths of our football team," Zook said. "One of the things I was concerned about was them flying up field and creating big running lanes and letting Chase (Daniel) scramble. I don't think they played as well, but I have to take some of the responsibility. I might have taken away their fight a little bit."

Zook is doing what most coaches would do, but fact is Illinois is not that far off. The first game of the season you find a lot of mistakes and things to improve on the following week.

The loss was very tough on junior QB Juice Williams. Williams put up record numbers as he completed 28 out of 42 passes for a career-high 456 yards and threw for a career-best five touchdowns. "It's hard to swallow knowing all the hard work we put in during the summer to lose to a good team by such a small margin," Williams said. "It stings but it gives us something to build on and let us know where we are as a team."

Next week the Illini take on Eastern Illinois. It should be a packed house for the Renaissance celebration at Memorial Stadium. Stay tuned here at InsideIllini.com for player interviews this week.


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