Zook Q&A: Enthused About Spring Ball

It was the first day of spring football and the head coach was excited. Getting ready for a press conference to kick it off, thinking about practice, worrying about the rain and just talking football. Ron Zook talked about it all in this exclusive interview with InsideIllini.com

Insideillini.com: You seem really ready for this to get started.

Zook: Man, more than you know. Can't wait to get started -- can't wait for Rantoul, honestly. But these guys have worked hard, this should be a good spring. Our offseason has been as good as it can be.

Insideillini.com: Last year was a bitter pill for everyone to swallow. Are you beyond it?

Zook: You have to get beyond it, but you have to learn from it. I learned a lot, I can tell you that. So did our coaches, so did our players. And I will tell you what -- they have that look in their eye. They have that bad taste in their mouth. So do I. That's a good thing now.

Insideillini.com: You have three brand new coaches, how is that working out?

Zook: That is probably what I worried about the most, chemistry. But you can't imagine how good that part has been. All of these guys, the new guys, the other guys welcoming them in. That part is fine.

Insideillini.com: This is Juice's senior season. How much pressure is there on him this last year?

Zook: You know what, it's our job to keep pressure off him. It should be on us, not him. He doesn't deserve that. He just needs to go play. But I have a good feeling -- he is going to have really good weapons around him, the best he has had so far. Really good weapons. I think he will play better.

Insideillini.com staff: Speaking of that, this seems to be the most depth you've had since you've been at Illinois.

Zook: By far. We have players to choose from now, we have numbers at all of the positions. Now some of them are young, very young. They have to learn, we all have to get them ready. But the numbers are up. Way up.

Insideillini.com staff: Can you talk about Josh Brent's status yet?

Zook: Not really. Matter of privacy. He does have a hearing scheduled -- that is sort of public record -- and I don't think anything happens until that runs its course.

Insideillini.com staff: Do you have enough defensive tackles in the meantime?

Zook: (Laughing) Do you ever have enough? But Corey looks good, I'm very intrigued to see what Rakheem (Smith) does down in there, he is a strong, strong guy. Sirod (Williams)isn't full go yet, but he will be fine in the fall. (Darrell) Ballew is out for spring, but he will be back. And you know what? Nobody around here has worked harder than Reggie Ellis did in the off-season -- he has really worked hard. Is he ready? Not sure. We'll see. But he really worked at it."

Insideillini.com staff: How will the offense look different under Mike Schultz?

Zook: I'm not sure it will look different at all. We're going to do what we do. Now you'll see Mike's personality in the play-calling some, that is always the case. But the basics won't change.

Insideillini.com staff: (This time me laughing) You're really chomping at the bit, aren't you.

Zook: You can't imagine. Let's go man go.

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