Illini Share Indiana Postgame Thoughts

Illini football players and coaches were eager to talk about their big win over the Indiana Hoosiers Saturday night despite the late hour. It is always easier to discuss a win than a heartbreaking loss. Some of their post game thoughts follow.

Questions for Coach Zook:

Q: What do you think of the records being established by Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn?

Zook: "I don't want to get caught up in all that stuff. I'm happy and proud of them. The coaches have done a great job of coaching. We can't be thinking about those things. It's Wisconsin. It's one game at a time."

Q: Please discuss your decision to use freshman Derek Dimke on kickoffs.

Zook: "After last week, I thought we'd give Derek a shot, and I thought he did a nice job. He hit five or six kickoffs, and I think it's gonna help him. Now you've got a little competition there too, and competition's good for everybody."

Q: You also burned the redshirt of freshman left tackle Corey Lewis?

Zook: "Big Corey was out there. I told Corey this morning after pregame, he just turned 18 Wednesday or Thursday, that we were waiting until you turned 18 to play you. Ryan Palmer's still a couple weeks out. We've hopefully got 6 games left, and that's alot of football.

"I'm a big believer you can't buy experience, you have to play. He's gonna have to play now. We've got to get him in there and get him plays. We kind of argued back and forth for the last few weeks about it. Finally, we said we just need to go on and do it."

Questions for Jeff Cumberland:

Q: How do you feel about the Indiana win?

Cumberland: "It feels real good. Any kind of win. The loss last week that we believed we should have had...we just had to come out and play hard. This is a rivalry game, and we knew we were gonna be in a dogfight. We just did what we had to do."

Q: How does it feel to be contributing again after recovering from a broken bone in your foot?

Cumberland: "The first two games, just sitting and watching on TV and not being able to travel, hurt a little bit. But I just knew I had to come out and do what I can do for the team to help us win big games like this."

Q: It must be exciting to have so many weapons on offense.

Cumberland: "The more weapons you've got, the more points you put on the board. It gave us a big boost for when go to Wisconsin next weekend. Hopefully, we can do the same thing and put some points up on the board and get some stops and continue to improve."

Questions for Curt Mallory, Co-Defensive Coordinator:

Q: How would you assess the defense in this game?

Mallory: "For the most part, we were able to get after them and get some pressure. Unfortunately, on a third and short we gave up a big play. It wouldn't have been a big play if we'd just made the tackle. We were in position. It would have been a 6-7 yard gain. I hated to see that."

Q: Isn't the defense playing with more confidence and teamwork than earlier in the year?

Mallory: "Yeah, I think so. Our veterans are stepping up in the d-line. They had a lot of pressure. They pinned their ears back and got after it a little bit. And you know Brit Miller's been doing a great job and feeling more comfortable with the defense.

Q: Your fine young defensive tackle Corey Liuget went in motion as a blocking back for the offense on the goal line. What do you think of his dual role?

Mallory: "Yeah, I saw that. We've been talking about it, and I happened to look up and see Corey Liuget getting in there. But whatever it takes, it was good to see him in there."

Questions for Corey Liuget:

Q: You played several positions in high school including quarterback, tight end and fullback. Now that you are seeing time as a blocking back, do you think they might pass it to you sometime?

Liuget (with a sparkle in his eye and big smile): "Oh yes, I think that's gonna come later on this season or next season."

Q: Are you too young to remember "The Fridge" William Perry with the Bears in 1985?

Liuget: "I remember him. I watch football. I love football, so I watch football because that's where you learn most of the game from."

Q: Are you and the other Floridians on the team adjusting to the cooler weather?

Liuget: "That's a little problem, but we're gonna adjust. We Florida boys, we adjust to anything."

Q: Do you agree the defense is improving and showing more unity?

Liuget: "Yes, I really believe that. During practice and today's game, I told the linebackers, meet the defensive line at the quarterback, and I told the defensive line to meet me at the quarterback. Everybody got fired up saying, 'Look at this little freshman.' So that got everytonepumped up."

Questions for Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley:

Q: Has Juice Williams met your standards for excellence yet?

Locksley: "He looks more like a quarterback should look. For me to say he's where he needs to be, I'm always gonna find ways to get him to improve. But I think the last three games is the best stretch of games he's played since he's been here.

"Obviously, he's been productive for us, taking better care of the football, you know all the things we've been preaching. Has he gotten better, yes. Am I impressed with some of the things he's done out there, sure. But we're always gonna look at the tape and find some things to get corrected and continue to try to bring him along.

"He's always been very comfortable. He's been a sponge. He came here really raw, and everything we've challenged him with, he's responded. He had to take some setbacks, but he's responded well."

Q: Fairly or unfairly, some questioned your play calling against Minnesota. With this big win, do you think the fans will find more of the good in your calls?

Locksley: "A lot of the plays we called were the same ones as last week. Obviously, we executed some of them better. I guess I did a better job today calling them at the right time."

Q: Were you pleased with the offense's production tonight?

Locksley: "Football is a game of emotion. This was a game we needed to come out and play this way. We've been flat at home, so we wanted to put on a show that our crowd would be pleased with, and our guys responded well. We had two really good weeks of practice. Last week, obviously it didn't carry over to the game situations, but this week we were on all cylinders. It's definitely good for momentum."

Questions for Brit Miller:

Q: Coach Zook said you and Juice pressured him to wear orange this week. Why?

Miller: "I really like the orange look out there tonight. Me and Juice and a lot of guys talk about how we've got some of the best jersey combinations. It wasn't gonna make or break this game, but if you dress well you play well. We like the orange right now. If we lose, that changes, but whatever."

Q: Your defensive line really helped you out tonight with their pressure on the quarterback, didn't it?

Miller: "My goodness. I told those guys second quarter that our guys in the back end are covering well tonight. We've got some good calls, and if they can just put forth a little extra effort, we were gonna get home. And they did that. They did a great job getting after that quarterback, and I'm proud of those guys, I really am."

Q: Did those two early missed field goals by Indiana set the tone for the game?

Miller: "I think our field goal block team did a great job of attacking them. I think the first time, we were right on it. I think that gets in kickers' heads. If we give them a little presence, put a little pressure on those guys, they can push that kick. That's what I think happened those first couple kicks."

Questions for Juice Williams:

Q: Does it help you having so many weapons from which to choose?

Juice: "Definitely. Those guys all do a great job finding the open lanes and catching the ball in space and doing something with it. So when guys start locking in on number 9, those other guys have been able to come up with big plays."

Q: You seemed to suffer an injury during the game. How is it?

Juice: "I took a shot on my left shoulder, and I definitely felt it. It's something I'll feel in the morning, but it hurts less now that we've won. It wasn't too bad, it was just a sharp impact pain that went away after awhile."

Q: You said preseason that you now understand the game well enough to feel like you're playing a video game. Did it seem like that this evening?

Juice: "That comes along with preparing, understanding the game plan, what the defense is trying to do with you. Coach Zook has always said, practice should be a lot harder than the game. That's our goal, to execute our game, understand what those guys are trying to do to us and have fun."

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