"I told the team on Tuesday that we would be in a hard fought battle, and we were. I think Illinois was ready to play. They gave great effort and played really tough. I think our guys had to do the same. We are not a real styled football team right now, or a beauty pageant team. We are finding different ways to get the job done each week and today was no exception. Boy, was it really a hard fought game out there. A lot of guys came up with some plays, and our defense continues to play well. We are going to try and regroup and rest our guys a little bit. I think they are pretty drained right now, but we now have to find a way and get ready for next week."
Were you pleased with Drew Tate's performance today?
For the most part, yes. The one interception was a horrible decision, but did not really hurt us that much as it turned out. It was a bad decision and bad judgment. He missed a few other plays, too. I think that is still us dealing with a young quarterback so every now and then that will happen. The mistakes he makes are aggressive or he almost thinks too much at times. I think you would rather have a guy like that then a guy at the other end of the spectrum.
Where would you rank (Jonathan) Babineaux's strip and recovery?
Every play was big. It was 7-7 at halftime. We tell our guys we are on a road trip in the Big Ten and to prepare for 60 minutes. It takes effort from everybody involved and Jonathon's play - that is good news because we are getting efforts from different people.
What happened with the coin toss?
I will take that one. We actually wanted to take the wind to give you guys something to write about. I think that we can do a better job. Typically, we take the football and go with it. Today, we wanted to opt and go a different way. I think we learned today that we need to let one guy speak and handle that whole chore. We had a couple of voices involved and it all got twisted around a little bit. Fortunately, it did not hurt us but that is my fault because it was different from the norm.
What was the difference coming out of halftime?
We did not make any major adjustments because we did not know if they (Illinois) would take the ball or the wind. We talked to our guys about both scenarios, but realized that the fourth quarter was going to make a big difference. If we had the wind we were going to make hay. The credit goes to our players as they were just ready to go.
On the status of Aaron Mickens:
He looks to be in good shape after they checked him out. He will be on the flight home with us tonight, and that is great news. You are, certainly, always worried about injuries like those. We are uncertain right now of his status for the rest of the season.
How does the wind effect strategy in games?
Normally, it is not that big of a factor. Today, it was a pretty big factor. More than anything it affects the kicking game. That is really a challenge. It is one of the most windy days that I can remember for a ball game. To me wind is much more of a factor than rain, snow, or those sort of things. Wind is the biggest factor in outdoor sports.
On the status of Champ Davis:
Champ does not look good. I am sorry, I wish I had better news. It is probably an ACL injury.
How does it feel to be bowl eligible at the end of October?
We are happy about that because things did not look good about a month ago. The effort our guys gave in the last month makes us feel good. We went undefeated for October. If you could get a prize for that it would be nice. The best we could be after today's game is 6-2. The credit goes to our players as they did a great job. We got a tough month of November ahead of us. We need to be careful as a coaching staff to make sure we have some gas left in the tank. They are really putting it all out there and we need to be careful over the next month.
Have you done a quick inventory of your running backs?
At halftime, yes. It is to the point where is not even funny anymore. It was never really funny. It is a little bit of a concern.
Did you get kind of shaky when Sam (Brownlee) limped off after a play?
Oh yes, you get a little nervous about anyone not looking normal.
Were you surprised to see John Beutjer in the fourth quarter?
-- No, I was not surprised at all. We thought there was a chance we would see two quarterbacks like they played last week. Yeah, he did a good job. He thought the starter did a good job also.
Even with all the injuries, are you surprised to have a shot at winning the Big Ten title?
No, we are not even thinking about that. I swear we are not. Maybe statistically we have a shot. We just need to find a way to win each week. That is the kind of football team we are and there is nothing wrong with that. There are some reasons for it right now. The guys are doing a great job right now of working together. We are going to be worrying about a tough game next week once tomorrow rolls around.
Ed Hinkel seems to be the guy that gets things done:
He is. We do not have that much experience on offense this year. I think he and Pete McMahon are the two most experienced players. He kind of disappeared last season because of the injuries. The fact that he is experienced and healthy works for us. He is coming up big for us and we need every guy to do things for us. Warren Holloway made some beautiful plays for us today. That one grab to get the first grab was a big play. The screen pass to Tom Busch for a first down was great, too. It seems like every time we do something you have to pull out a program and check who the guy was that made the play.
Is the bus now parked in Detroit? (meaning that Iowa has qualified for a bowl)
Yes, it probably is. At least we have a bus, right? We have got to try and move it again like last year, but it is going to be tough.
In reference to the showing of support and love for his family:
I thanked everybody last week. I thanked our team and staff this Tuesday. I know that when we left last Wednesday for Pennsylvania that the coaches would have things taken care of. As far as the outpouring of support it has been pretty amazing. You cannot bring a life back but it means so much to our entire family.