Illinois Postgame: Merrick Transcript

Miguel Merrick spoke with the media about 24-7 win against Illinois on Saturday and looks ahead to showdown with Ohio State.

Was Marcus trying too much to make big hits while he was hurt?

No. I mean, it‘s never dangerous to hit somebody too hard. (laughs) That‘s what we try to do. Whenever we hit, we want them not to get up again.

How important was it for you to hang on to the ball today?

Everybody was giving me a lot of flack about that. So, I was just happy to hang onto it. Most importantly, the turnover led to points. Drew came down and made a great pass to Tony. That really got our team going.

Does it feel good to finally produce some takeaways as a group?

We always preach turnovers. We always want to give our offense great field position. Today, we were able to do that so we were very happy.

When did thoughts of Ohio State finally creep into your mind?

Not until the clock reached :00. (Laughs)

Now that you can think about it, what does this week mean?

As you saw today, we‘re not polished. We have a lot of things to correct. We all know what they bring. They have a great offense and the defense is coming along. We have to play our best.

Are you comfortable with anybody that‘s back there with you?

We‘re comfortable with whoever is out there because that‘s who we practice with. You guys aren‘t at practice, but we see guys coming along every day.

What was the difference today in you guys getting some interceptions?

Obviously, the pressure that the defensive line put on the quarterback helped us out a lot. He threw the ball up, and we were just able to make plays.

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