Coach Zook Reviews Indiana in Presser

Illini head coach Ron Zook was in a much better frame of mind for his Sunday review of the Indiana game than he was last week after Minnesota. A satisfying win will do that for you. And the media questions centered on more positive aspects of the football team as well.

Q: You are using Josh Brent and Corey Liuget as a fullback. Will they get the ball at some point?

Ron Zook: Well, you build on those things. Obviously, when you put them in that kind of a roll, you put them in there to move people. At 300 pounds, running into people usually you get a little bit of a collision.

Q: At the end, you could have scored again but took knees. Was that the way you want to play?

Zook: I've been on both sides. It's about respect for the game. I thought it was the right thing to do.

Q: Wisconsin is in a bizarre situation, you keep thinking they're gonna erupt one of these weeks.

Zook: That's what scares you, they are gonna erupt. All I can tell you is that, if you remember Iowa last year, they were struggling and all of a sudden boom. We all know they are a good football team. They've had some troubles here and there. But when they start hitting it, they're gonna go and go fast. I just hope they don't hit it all this week.

Q: What did you see on tape on the pass interference call?

Zook: (laughing) You come in and look at it. I will show it to you and you tell me. The guy ran into Vontae. I can't say anything.

Q: Is Jason Ford now your running back, or is it still running back by committee?

Zook: I don't know why anything has to change at this point. He (Ford) got a little hot last night, so we left him in there to see how it goes with him. If another guy gets hot, we'll leave him in there.

Q: Talk about what Ford has learned lately to allow you to play him.

Zook: These guys, you never know, it might be 5-6 weeks into the season. That's why it's so hard early in the year to decide whether to play a guy or not. It's hard to project. You want them to get experience, but you want them to get comfortable with the system.

He's beginning to feel more comfortable with what we're doing and what's asked of him. When he said it was important for him to gain our trust, it's all the things you have to do. That's why it is running back by committee because of certain protections, whether we're running inside or outside, we're asking them to catch the ball.

Q: What were you looking for by juggling different players at different spots this far into the season?

Zook: Like I've told this team all along, if you don't like your position on the team, do something about it. Guys understand that we all want to win, that it's important to win. Just keep moving guys around if we have to until we get what we're expecting.

Kevin Mitchell didn't understand until after the Rose Bowl what raising our expectation level was. We tell the players, you're expectation level has to be the same as the coaches. I think sometimes it's harder for young guys to understand what our expectation level is for them.

I think it's important as a coach that you don't ask a guy to do something he isn't able to do, and it's important you ask them to do things they think they can do. It's impossible to do it all the time, but you want to put guys in positions where they're comfortable. The more you do that, the better they feel about it.

For Jason (Ford), things were going fast, and he didn't go quite as fast. The more he does it, the more he's in it, the faster he's gonna get.

Q: Have you solved the kickoff thing for the time being?

Zook: For the week. I thought Derek (Dimke) did a nice job, I really did. It's like any of the other guys out there. We've got to have the best guys out there who can do things as close to what we're asking for us to win. That's what's expected of them as players.

Q: Juice said more receivers than Rejus are developing.

Zook: Juice understands that the more weapons he has, the harder it is for a defense to gang up on one guy. If you only throw the ball to one guy, it gives them the opportunity to double and those kinds of things. But when you mix it around, it's harder to clue in on one guy. Rejus still got his catches and still had a bunch of yards. But the more guys you can use, the better you're gonna be.

Q: Is Rejus (Benn) comparable to the best receivers you have coached?

Zook: Absolutely. 9 is better this year than last year, and he will be better next year than this year because it's important to him. He wants to be good. He wants to do all the things he needs to do to be a better player. He's a team guy. Team's important to him. We've just got to keep growing.

Q: He's not the kind of guy you worry about losing focus?

Zook: Oh no, no. He may be a better person than he is a player.

Q: How will we approach defending a running team like Wisconsin?

A: Obviously, we've got to continue to improve. Wisconsin's gonna present their kinds of problems. They have a back that can run, so it's important that we're able to stop the run. Like we found in the Missouri game, you've got to be able to stop the run.

Q: How do you go about evaluating the running backs this week. Do you give them equal opportunities?

A: We haven't talked about that yet. We're still recruiting, so we haven't had a staff meeting yet since we've been running around with them. In my own mind, I see no reason to change from the way we've been doing it. They have different strengths and weaknesses. Some of the things we do goes back to what you're doing. Mikel (LeShoure) started last night. So it really doesn't matter to me who starts. When they get their opportunity, they've got to show.

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