Juice: "Don't Give Up On The Team!"

The Illini Nation was still suffering from the loss to Wisconsin Monday. Suffering most of all were the Illini players and coaches who must go to class and practice while those around them demand answers. Quarterback Juice Williams willingly faced the media to admit mistakes and discuss the future. It was not an easy task.

Juice Williams was asked what went wrong Saturday.

"I think it was a case of doing exactly what Coach Locksley told us not to do. Obviously, we had a bunch of penalties, we had three interceptions that we can't have. Those are things that kill an offense, and they are things we must try to avoid the rest of the season."

After breaking records in recent games, Williams faced considerable criticism for his mistakes and inconsistency versus the Badgers.

"I think the criticism was fair. I didn't do as well as I had the last couple weeks. The offense needs me every week."

Juice was unwilling to speak the the media right after the loss. But he said he felt better once he returned home.

"It was frustration. I was taught the best thing to do when frustrated is to say nothing at all. When we landed in Champaign, I was able to shake it off and go on. I usually don't let a lot of things get to me. You have to understand that bad things are gonna occur."

The Illini must regroup quickly as an improved Iowa contingent invades Memorial Stadium Saturday. They can't let remnants of the loss interfere with their confidence or preparations for the game.

"It's gonna be key Saturday to bounce back and come out on top. Obviously, the loss to Wisconsin really hurt this program, so it's gonna be real vital we come out and take care of business."

That quick a turnaround requires leadership and team unity. A big part of that responsibility falls on Williams' shoulders, and he knows what to do.

"Keeping guys up, let those guys know we're not a bad team. And then go out there on Saturday and show we're not a bad team. It's gonna take my leadership and the leadership of alot of other guys to keep guys motivated."

Coach Ron Zook will not accept a losing program. Monday's practice was predictably intense.

"Very intense. Coach Zook is a winner. He demands excellence out of us. He was gonna come down hard on us, and we expected that. He expects us to come out here and take care of business."

Teams play best when loose and confident. Will the team be able to transform the pressure into a positive without tightening up?

"Absolutely. Any Saturday, any team can be beat. It just happened that last Saturday it was us. We've got to be ready to come out and bounce back. Remember what happened last week and just keep playing.

"I think we can relax. There's more pressure, and more intensity from the coaching staff adds a little pressure, but I think we do a great job of handling that pressure and having fun."

Juice Williams has a simple message he'd like to share with the fans.

"I would like to tell the fans not to get discouraged or give up on the team."


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