Coach Rodriguez: "We kept you all busy today. A lot of plays, a lot of plays. Very proud of our young men. Showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight. We knew that our backs were up against the wall and as I told them when your back is against the ball, you can go two ways, go forward or slump down. I didn't want anybody to slump down and I don't think anybody did. We didn't play well all the time. We had five turnovers, had mistakes, gave up some big plays, but kept hanging in there, kept hanging in there and we made a play to win at the end. I was very happy for them, especially our seniors."
Question: Have you ever been in any one quite that crazy in terms of scoring?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah I've been in triple overtime before, I think it was in the 40s. It wasn't in the 60s. Certainly, you could have thought why didn't you go for two in the second overtime instead of an extra point, defense is tired and what have you and try to win it there. I've always been the longer you go and hopefully your conditioning takes over. They were in pretty good shape too. I knew that we were going to go back down to the student session then and get them into a little bit. We made a play at the end and I'm proud of the guys."
Question: The fact that you were able to score the way you did against a defense that good and do it with a backup quarterback that's got to be immensely gratifying.
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. We're still growing offensively. We had five turnovers, which usually kills us. I know one was on special teams, but our guys are grasping the concepts. We threw a lot at them this week because Illinois throws a lot at you defensively, a lot of different looks, a lot of different coverage things, a lot of different movement up front. I thought our O-line did a pretty good job of handling the movement. We knew there might be some passes there. We got some big plays, but we also ran the ball. I didn't know we ran for 257. Sometimes it was a grind, because we didn't get a lot of big runs, but I still thought that was key getting some of those runs helped up all the play action stuff. Because we did a bunch of the play action and bootlegs today and that got us some big plays for us."
Question: Denard Robinson's status?
Coach Rodriguez: "Denard, he got hit somewhere in that last drive. I don't know if it was that helmet-to-helmet, to me that is probably where it was. He was dizzy and had a little headache and so the trainers, it was right before we went out, he had those symptoms and certainly for his safety, you're not going to put him out there. Tate, he's an experienced a guy…he fumbled around the first one that's for sure. He didn't hang his head and he goes out there and competes. I thought our wide receivers made a lot of big plays today, big, big plays and that may have been the difference in the game for us."
Question: Can you talk about Courtney Avery and how he stepped into that?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah he battled. You looked out there a couple of times I did, even though it was kind of hard because there was a three true freshman in the secondary, a true freshman and a redshirt freshman underneath. So they battled and they learned some lessons, but they love to compete. That's why I'm so excited about the future, because we're playing and the guys that are injured will be back and we're going to be a whole lot deeper. To battle like they did today against a very talented team, a team that was playing at a very high level and to get our crowd into it. It was a great atmosphere. I thought the crowd was terrific."
Question: Can you tell about the status of Denard going forward?
Coach Rodriguez: "No…again, I'm not a doctor so I don't know where he is at, but he had a smile on his face and talking and all that. Obviously, you're going to be precautionary because any time you get hit there and he's got some headaches you want to watch that. We'll see where he is at tomorrow and go from there."
Question: Rich honestly have you thought about being bowl eligible?
Coach Rodriguez: "Oh yeah. We've talked about and thought about it. We talked about it last night that you got to get to six to get bowl eligible and every win after that it elevates your bowl status sort of speak. Our guys realize that, particularly our seniors but that was important for us and then it is important for us now to understand that every game after this is even more important. It was good just to get that good feeling, it has been a month or more since we've had that good feeling in the locker room."
Question: That last defensive stop was like bringing the house was that the plan at some point in the overtime?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah maybe earlier. I know both Coach Robinson and Coach Gibson on the sideline and said that coach was bringing the house. I'm like that's good. We had to get there and thankfully we did, because they ran a little rub route and he may have been open but the pressure got to him first and that was a good thing. Earlier blitzes we were not able to get enough pressure on him, but on that one we sold out. It was a complete sellout and of course we got some pressure."
Question: Have you ever been in a game this wild?
Coach Rodriguez: "I know I've been in at least one triple overtime, yeah two triple overtimes. So I'm an old experienced veteran, but this was my first one at the Big House. That's not easy on the heart I know after the third overtime we scored, everybody had to take a deep breath. You feel good when you're up by eight. My experience when you get into the multiple overtime the advantage goes to the offense because the defense, the more the plays you have, the harder it is to tackle, it is harder to make plays defensively. I'm glad we made one at the end. I think we could have gone a little further, but I don't know how much."
Question: With as beaten up as your defense has been over the last couple of weeks, how nice is it for you that they made the play at the end to keep them out?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah that's a perfect ending in my opinion. For the defense to make a play, to come with pressure, to basically win the game on the last play of the game I think is really uplifting for not just the young guys that were there, but for some of the seniors that have been playing defensively and trying to hold everything together. So I'm proud of them.'
Question: How about the uplifting nature for your team, bowl eligible and win a game like this.
Coach Rodriguez: "It's been a good week. Mr. Brandon and I both talked about it on the way over here. It has been a good week."
Question: When (Junior) Hemingway got the tip, did you think by gosh this might actually go our way?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. That's a luck thing. Boy, we got a lucky break. We had the one play I think it towards the end of regulation where Jeremy (Gallon) had the ball on the one or two yard line and had the holding penalty to bring us back. Maybe, golly lee, we need a break, but you have to make your breaks and Junior made his break. We got lucky there. But there are other times when the other team got lucky too."
Question: With Roy (Roundtree) did you see something on film that you guys could take advantage of?
Coach Rodriguez: "No. Nothing in particular, some of the schemes and there may have been some things if we recognize it. We teased Roy all week, I don't know if he told you. Last year, he caught a long one and he got caught and then we didn't stick it in. He didn't get caught today…he caught on one time where they had the angle on him, but the first one he didn't get caught. That was the first thing that Calvin (Magee) was on the headset with me and he caught the ball and he said, don't get caught this time Roy, don't get caught this time (laughter). He took off pretty good. He's a talented guy."
Question: How good did it feel to sing that song today after the game?
Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah to sing with the students. I'm really proud the way the players have handled everything. I've probably said that to you all before but I've said it to the team too because they've kept their kind of laser focus with all the outside drama and all the other things. They come to work, they try hard and they don't always play the best and sometimes they're frustrated but they're hanging together and they always have been hanging together and I think that's one of the main reasons we won today. We talk about being ‘all in' and our guys always all in. Even in the tough times last year."
Full Transcript: Postgame Coach Rod
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