Obviously, we are pleased with the win. It was a good day for our football team. One thing I would say, you know Illinois, they're having a tough year right now. I think we're all aware of their injury situation. From my point of view, they came out with a great plan today. Their coaches put a great plan together. I thought their guys battled and competed extremely hard all the way through. You wouldn't have known their record with the effort they were putting out. So, it didn't make it easy for us.
But all in all, I'm just real pleased to get the win. Obviously the penalty situation is something we need to do a better job on. That's been kind of nagging at us the last couple of weeks. Today it was not good at all. But, on the positive side, I thought we did a lot of good things. And maybe as good as anything, it was nice to see some of the guys that had been out for a long period of time get back and get a little bit more active. Certainly Mo Brown, to get him back out there and playing a little bit was good for us. And it looked like Jermelle was starting to get it back a little bit too, getting some of that rust off; Ed Hinkel was back in the lineup. So, there were some positives from that standpoint. I'm hopeful, knock on wood, it doesn't look like we got anybody dinged too bad today. We might have a chance to get Grant and Jared back next week. So, there are some positives going on right now for us. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Hopefully we'll keep improving and we'll see what happens.
Does it kind of bring a tear to your eye? For a while there, you had Ed, Mo, Jermelle in an offense.
It was good to see. I'll tell you that. It's been a while since we've had all of those guys on the field at one time. You know, that's just part of the game. You really feel for the older guys, especially a guy like Mo. He looks up at the calendar. His eligibility clock is kind of ticking pretty quick there. So, I know he feels a lot better now. It's good to get him out there. I hope, from this point on, we just keep building forward.
The defense, I mean they were just playing great...
I thought they did a great job. And I don't mind telling you that we were all a little concerned all week because you lose a guy like Jonathan a couple of weeks ago, just one of our key guys, a real glue guy for us. Then you progress into this week minus two more good players, not only good players, but leaders for us. You always worry about that cumulative effect. It's taken its toll on the offensive side of the ball. But what can I say about the guys that jumped in there? Matt (Neubauer) and Derreck (Robinson), we feel great about those guys. But now you've got Kevin (Worthy) jumping outside to play a new position. He did a good job. George has not been at full health, so that was a real concern for us. The other trickle down effect is how that affects your depth. We had pretty good depth a couple of weeks ago. Now, we're getting a little thin on the defensive side. So, the good news is that I thought we did a lot of good things today. Hopefully, we can keep doing that.
Was this Chandler's best game?
I thought Nathan played a real nice game. Illinois threw a lot of blitzes at us, run type blitzes. Nathan has been doing a good job all season at keeping us in the right plays that way. And they gave us a couple of other things that we thought maybe they'd do, but we really didn't think that they would. It was a tough game for us to prepare for. I give credit to their staff. They did a nice job to give their guys a chance. But I thought Nathan played a real smart game and a solid game.
You will land in Purdue with a healthier football team?
No question. Even before the break, I've been kind of holding on to that thought, especially offensively. Sooner or later we're going to get some guys back. Now, we've not only got some guys back, but we've got that back on the field where they hadn't had a chance to play. That's going to do a lot good for their confidence. It will probably help the whole team's confidence too, starting with Nate and Fred Russell.
Where is Mo if you had to throw a percentage on it?
I don't know if I'm really good at that. You know, 80-90, something like that. The good news was it was just good to see him out there practicing. Just to give you an idea on how to gauge the thing, I think he might have gone probably about 40 percent on Tuesday of the work that we did. He pretty much practiced the whole day Wednesday. Then, we cut back almost totally on Thursday just so he could come in with some zip. The big question is that it is kind of like Bob - what happens from this point on? I think he got about 18 or 20 snaps today. Hopefully we just keep building on it now where he can really start practicing the way he has to and give us that spark.
With Michigan State getting beat today, what does that do to the Big Ten?
I'd be really impressed if someone gets through with one loss. If they do, they've done a heck of a job and they've got a heck of a football team. When Purdue went to the Rose Bowl that year, I think we had three teams that were 6-2 and three teams that were 8-3. It was an 11-game season. The league we're looking at right now it's not unrealistic, but somebody could end up with one. There's no question about that. All that being said, our focus is going to be on us and finishing with the best record we can. We're not too worried about the race right now. It's nice that we have a chance to be in it. But we've got three tough ballgames ahead of us. We knew that. November is a very important month every year; at least you hope it is. Last year it was for us. The year before it was. And it is again this year. So, we've got a real tough one waiting for us. I knew that one back in January that Purdue was going to be tough. I knew it when they walked out here last year. They've got an excellent football team. They're about as good as we're going to see all year. It will be a tough assignment.
With everything that Bob's done here, are you surprised it's his first touchdown?
Yeah, kind of. Yes and no. It's tough to score on defense. He's done about everything else. So, it was good for him to get that score. He just has that knack. The guy is a great defensive football player. It's the first one he's had since he was a prep.
Why was Calvin Davis more effective today? Has he or you been doing anything differently?
I don't think so. I do think one nice thing is that we have a lot of good things going on with our team right now. He has already played a lot more than we would have anticipated. But it's been great. The fun thing is to see him grow. He made that nice, tough catch against Michigan where he knew he was going to get drilled on the sideline. That was a big play for him in terms of growing as a player. And this is the first one in my recollection where he's made a tough catch downfield on a long ball. It's part of that growth process, and he's still a very young guy. He blew a couple too, but he's moving forward and he's practicing well. That's the biggest thing. So, we're just really pleased about that.
Do you watch the BCS much?
No. I don't even pay attention to it.
You got Drew Tate some time. How do you look upon that?
Yeah. It was good to get him on the field. We've been hoping to do that. I know Randy (Peterson of the Des Moines Register) has too. He's been needling me on this thing. But, it was good to get him out there, no question. One thing, obviously, we're going to have to teach him how to slide. He hasn't figured that one out. That might have been our worst injury of the day, potentially, the way he did that. But, in all seriousness, it was good to get him out there. I thought he had good command. He did some nice things. They kept blitzing. So, he recognized some things and did a good job that way. I think I also caught him making a light remark about Coach O'Keefe. Ken got nailed on the sidelines somewhere in the third quarter, I guess. I just happened to be by Drew. He said "Hey, O'Keefe got nailed." I said "I heard that Tate." (laughter) He had no idea I was standing right behind him. So, he got busted on that one. (laughter) He's doing a good job for us.
What happened with Gallery?
He just kind of hyper-extended his elbow.
What about his blocks?
Yeah. I think that guy was looking for him on that second one, for good reason. That guy passed the intelligence test. (laughter) Yeah, that was...Robert is just playing at a real high level. And he's obviously a very enthusiastic player out there.
You don't see that too often when two blocks where the stadium rocks.
Yeah, when they're out there in the open like that, it's hard to miss Gallery. It's like a moving van coming out there. Plays like that really ignite our fans, and we've got great fans. I think they appreciate good, clean football.
Where does Kyle Orton rank among quarterbacks?
I don't know about ranking them. The only thing I knew coming into this year was there were a lot of good, veteran quarterbacks in our league. And he is certainly one of them. And the little bit I know about it was that it was kind of back and forth last year. In fact, Kirsch hurt us more in our game last year. But Joe went with Kyle in the bowl game. He had a great game. It just appears to me that he's taken it and run with it. He's really playing with confidence. That's what that position is all about. Unfortunately, he's got two years, not one.
Can the best days be ahead for your offense now?
That's what we've been hoping for all along. The question started to become "Are we ever going to get these guys back?" The other key is not having any more injuries. But we're starting to settle down in the line a little bit. We made major strides last week in that department. We continued that today. The key right now is to keep everybody out there so we can start developing that continuity, rhythm and tempo to us. At least we're getting closer.