How did you feel about bouncing back and the way your team responded?
“You go on the road to a Power-5 team, even though it's a new coaching staff, it was a hostile crowd, it was loud, and we faced adversity throughout the game. I was proud of how our guys responded and I thought we played well throughout the game. We made plenty of mistakes but we overcame our mistakes.”
When they scored to cut it to 31-23 in the third quarter you guys responded immediately with a drive to take care of the game.
“Yeah we feel like offensively that the only thing keeping us from getting going was ourselves. Not to take anything away from (Illinois), but we felt if we did what we were supposed to do that we’d drive the ball down the field, and we did that on that drive.
What were the things holding you back offensively?
“Inconsistency. We ran the ball… Well, let me give that defensive line a lot of credit. They moved them quite a bit, which caused some problems for us upfront. But we continued to stay with the running game. We got some play actions off of those things that we hit. The guys just kept playing hard.”
Is this the Mitch Trubisky that you expected to see early on?
“He played well tonight. He took care of the football. He ran the ball. I know you guys got to see him run the ball and he ran the ball effectively. I thought he was really into it and sharp and focused the entire night. So yes, it's what I expect from him.”
How big was that 39-yard run from Mitch to get the groove going?
“It was good. I didn't really want him to take the hit like he did, but he came off the field and I said ‘don't do that’ and he said ‘I needed it.’”
After you missed the field goal, they went to Vaughn three straight times. That seemed like a big stop.
“It was big, it was very big. The only thing I'd say defensively is that we made them put the ball on the ground six times and we only got one. We've got to do a much better job on the turnovers. We did a great job of getting the ball on the ground, now we got to go get the ball.”
Three plays in you guys give up a 65-yard touchdown run. Was that a ‘here we go again’ with the run defense?
“Here's what we talked about going into this game. We knew what they did against Murray State isn't what we were going to see, and we told our guys that we’re going to have to adjust. Don't worry about what happens early, we’re going to have to adjust to it, and that what happened. They out-gapped us, we didn't get adjusted, then after that about two more series into it we had a good feel for what they were trying to do. From that point on we played pretty good defense.”
You had to adjust last week as well. Was that a learning experience that helped tonight?
“Definitely. I mean you’ve got a new coaching staff and that’s the way it is. We’re going to have a new coaching staff this week I believe. So the first three. All new coaching staffs. So I don’t know, I haven’t looked at any film, but there’s a chance that we’re going to have to make some adjustments in the game because we don’t have enough film of all they do.”
Mikey Bart was moving around all night long. What did you see from him?
“Mikey Bart’s a heck of a football player. If you watch Mikey Bart, and you really watch him, that guy’s going to play as hard as he can possibly play on every single play. And I’ll tell you what, if more guys will understand, if that’s what you do, you’re going to make a lot of plays.”
Last play of the first half you called a timeout, I guess just to discuss a little more that you were going to go for it?
“Yeah that was all me. It was all me. Here’s my thinking: if we kick the field goal, alright we’ll go up by 11, I don’t know how much momentum we would have, our guys would be disappointed, and we’re getting the ball at the start of the second half. So i decided to go for it. Nobody but me, my fault.”
What does it mean to your offense to have T.J. (Logan) who can be so versatile for you?
“Well to have both of those guys. Then you see Khris Francis in there and he rips one off. So we’ve got to keep those guys healthy, and we’ve got to keep them where they’re fresh throughout the entire year.”
You mentioned Mitch running the ball more. He was more active with his scrambling, as well. Was that a focus point for him going in?
“I would say just for himself it was. I don’t think he felt very good about the way he performed in that first game. So he did what he does in practice. What he did tonight is what he does at practice, and that’s what we’ve talked about. You don’t have to do anymore. I think he tried to do more than he could last week. Just do what we do. The offense has proven if we just do what we do we’ll be okay.
As a result of not trying to do too much, was his vision better when he moved?
“No doubt. You’re not constipated mentally. You’re not sitting there freezing up on everything that’s happening, you’re relaxed. You know what’s going to happen and you saw it tonight.”
When they made that move to cut the game down to a one possession game in the fourth quarter, did you see any difference between tonight and last week?
“(Switzer) fumbles the ball on the punt return; they take it in and score. Switz is the first one out there talking to the defense saying ‘Man, I got your back that’s my fault’. These guys, they really care about each other and they’re going to continue to cover each other no matter what. That’s going to make us a really good football team eventually.”
What did you do to eliminate their passing game?
“Well we’ve got good coverage guys. I thought we got fairly good pressure on the quarterback so once we felt like we understood what they were going to try to do to us, our guys responded well.”