Question: I read about the players only meeting that took place. I read that it kind of helped you guys turn it around after your 0-2 start. What was the message in that meeting looking back now that helped?
Shawn Crable: “I think a lot of what we talked about as a team was just getting our off the field issues together, getting people to really buy in and focus on winning instead of the hype about us being this big high powered team. I think we kind of let ourselves down. We knew that we had let ourselves down and we were trying to be hard on ourselves and we just needed to talk it out and make sure that we were all on the same page.”
Question: What impact do you think that the hype might have had on your start?
Shawn Crable: “I do not think the hype really played a key part in it, but I think a lot of people got involved with where were instead of where we wanted to go.”
Question: Everybody says that Mike Hart is going to play this week. I know you are a defensive player, but you have probably witnessed some of his toughness also. What is the best example that you can think of to help me explain Mike Hart’s toughness?
Shawn Crable: “I have seen Mike do a lot of things. Just us preparing, if we were preparing to play Mike Hart, he has a will that is crazy. Even when he is getting hit and even when things are not going right, he has a will that comes out that he wants to win. The more he gets hit the more competitive he gets. I really would not know how to explain what kind of will he has. I just know that he plays and he takes pride in being on the field and leading.”
Question: We talked to Tim Jamison a little bit earlier today and he is a guy that has made a lot of strides this year. What have you seen from Tim and why do you think he has been able to come kind of play the way he has, maybe a different level than he had previously in his career?
Shawn Crable: “I think a lot of it is just we are getting in better shape. We are running, doing things. I think to start the season we were in shape, but I think we found out once we started playing that the conditioning that we did over the summer and in two-a-days… that there was a different kind of shape that we needed to be in. We were expected to be out there for long time. Expecting to be out there for 12-14 play drives and not just three-and-outs. I think we had to get ourselves in that type of shape compared coming out of two-a-days and expecting to have three-and-outs and be a dominant defense.”
Question: What do you think that Tim is doing better than he has done before. How is he playing on the field differently?
Shawn Crable: “I think he has worked on his endurance a lot. I think he is working on his hands. He is working on his get-off. He is watching film and he is taking what he sees from film and he is applying it to the field.”
Question: Can you explain Jake (Long) in some of the battles that you have had with him, especially being an end, you have probably gone against him a couple of times more this year in practice than in the past?
Shawn Crable: “Jake is a tough guy. He is tough, physical and strong. You wouldn’t think about those things when you playing him. A lot of things that people do not know about Jake is that he is in tremendous shape. When we are working out in the summer and stuff, he is leading the big laps. He is running up there with the running backs and the guards when we are doing long distance running and stuff. You would think as an offensive lineman that he would get tired during a game and such, but he is tremendous shape and he plays physical the whole game. He does not tire out.”
Question: You consider yourself a tough guy, but has he thrown you around once or twice?
Shawn Crable: “We go back in forth. I wouldn’t say he throws me around, but we go back and forth.”
Question: Is there some talking going on when that is happening?
Shawn Crable: “Yeah. Anytime I get a chance to go against him, I look at it is a chance to go against somebody that is going to be in the NFL one day. I really get a chance to get a heads up on what I would be looking into and how I should be playing. When you go against him compared to some of the younger guys, who you know you can get around and defeat just because of inexperience and stuff like that… when you go against Jake you get excited and you get a chance to really work on and see what you are, because you know he is going to bring it to you.”
Question: We think of him as the quiet captain of the three of you. Is that fair or is that inaccurate?
Shawn Crable: “Well quietly in terms of being rowdy and things like that, yes, but he talks a lot. He talks a lot. He chimes in when he is supposed to. Him and Mike (Hart) keep the offense going, but I would say quiet in the sense of being rowdy and being an up tempo guy. But in terms of him leading and stuff like that he is not quiet.”
Question: What kind of specifics challenges does the Illinois offense pose?
Shawn Crable: “Well they want to run it. Any offense that builds their program around running the ball has tough linemen, they have tough running backs, and tough quarterbacks. So I think our best chance against them is to stop the run and minimize as much as they want to run.”
Question: Is being the captain this year been easier, tougher, about the same as you might have expected it would be?
Shawn Crable: “I think it started off tough. It started off tough, because I did not really know what to expect or how I was supposed to lead, but I think once we got into it, I think it became more of an easy thing. Really it comes down to leading and doing things that you are asking other people to do, like hustling and running to the ball and not taking plays off. I think once people see you do that, when you open your mouth and say something it means more as compared to if you were out there just kind of going through the motions.”
Question: Did the 0-2 start kind of make it tougher?
Shawn Crable: “Yeah, I think the 0-2 start was really a situation where we could have sank or swam. I think just us as a team, we tried to talk to each other and grit it out and things are going to get it better, but you got to keep playing.”
Question: Was it mentioned at that time that you guys hadn’t even played a Big Ten game yet?
Shawn Crable: “We realized that. We realized that after Appalachian State and we told each other that the way we wanted to go after the national championship and things like that…, now we had lost to them. Then went and lost to Oregon but we still had goals that we wanted to accomplish. So we kind of talked it out and put down on the board and what we could still accomplish. Things that are still out there in terms of our goals and everybody kind of bought in so far.”
Question: So you guys actually kind of redrew your goals with the Big Ten championship on the top?
Shawn Crable: “Yeah. Well I don’t know if it was all that at the top, but I would say that basically playing the way we are supposed to and capable of playing is more at the top than anything.”
Question: You mention Appalachian State and Oregon. This week will be the first week that you guys face a QB like the one that you faced the first couple of weeks of the season. What do you guys do better as a defense now than you did at that time that makes you think you are going to do better against Juice Williams and Illinois?
Shawn Crable: “Well I think Juice is a pretty good. I think we were a little inexperienced at the beginning of the season. I think we had some guys who really did not know what to expect. I think now those guys have a little more confidence. They understand where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to do. We can run some more things in terms of things like we can do on defense, but all that it really comes down to is hitting. Being where you are supposed be and hit. Do not lose your feet and don’t forget to wrap up. Really just hit.”
Question: What makes this Illinois team different maybe than some from years ago?
Shawn Crable: “I think they built their program this
year. Their offense coordinator and their coaches have really took heed to what
the players can do. They are putting players in great situations where they
can do a lot of things that they are good at doing. I think in the past they
may have tried to do too much and they were not really maximizing the potential
of their players. But I think this year, just from last year there is a big
difference in watching that team from last year to this year. They are much
more physical. The guys are really kind of letting loose and having funs doing
the things that they can do.”