Monday Press Conference:
I'd like to start out and say First off I missed you all last Monday and I wish we could have spent lunch together but we had that open week.Monday's Big 10 Teleconference:
That open week was positive in a lot of respects, after playing eleven consecutive games, it takes it toll on you a little bit, especially when you're a young -in some cases- football team that maybe hasn't reached full maturity. I think the fact that we had a chance to use some real quality days to heal up and get guys rehabilitated and recovered - so I think it was a positive week.
We did, however, work a couple of days. Tuesday was not a very demanding day a week ago, but we did go out a little bit, then Thursday we started picking the tempo up and Friday we had a pretty good go.
As we did last night. We start our week off with a Sunday practice. I did sense a little bit more "juice in their step" if you will. I think we got some things back - fresh legs as they call it so I think it was a good week, I think we accomplished some things with that.
It takes us into a very demanding game - I know we all saw the Illinois-Ohio State game. I thought it would be a great game, and it certainly was.
Ohio State had their hands full, Illinois had some chances to win it, I know they [Illinois] come in playing better football - I think that's one thing that's been very noticeable in their performance, they've played better and better and even in defeat they got everyone's attention with the kind of play they put on.
They execute very well [Illinois QB] Beujer's really come along as a Quarterback, making great decisions, throwing the football well, of course he's getting receivers to hold him up and make plays. Defensively they give you problems as they always do. They're very multiple, they come after you a lot of different fashions so Its going to be a formidable task but we all know this is Rivalry Week and its the last game for both of us.
It will be a situation where we both go into the game wanting to win badly - not only to set the tone off for the right way to end the season and send off a group of Seniors who in both cases are going to be missed. You have 2 senior classes who have won championships in the Big 10 and you want to send them off the right way, and you want to set a tone - if you will - for the future. Where this thing's going to go and the program's going to go.
I think both of us are in very similar positions, as far as what this game means. I think its a great thing that the Big 10's done, I know it hasn't always been this way, to move these Rivalry games to the last game of the season and I think its going to be a lot of fun, not only across the league, but here in Evanston.
Coach Walker's Opening Statement: Gosh its hard to believe we're in November and we're coming to the end of the season, and unfortunately for us we're saying good-bye to some Seniors who are playing their last game here at Northwestern. Its always a time that you reminisce a bit, think about where all the young guys have come, and how far they've gone in your program. The things they've accomplished, the adversity they've faced - so whe're at that place now.
We're looking forward to this week, its our last week together for a while as far as playing football and doing the thing we love.
Last week was a helpful week. I thought after playing 11 weeks with a young football team, we were on the verge of being beaten up a little bit, and I though we did a good job of getting our kids back, we had some rest and recovery in. And now we're in game week, we're back in a game week schedule and we're getting ready for an Illinois team who's playing better and better.
Of course everyone knows that - on national TV Saturday we had a chance to watch it and I think its part of the trend Ron's been able to develop - I know they started shakey, but man they've been playing great the last part of the season - I think they've really found themselves - they come into our game really playing their best football.
We're going to have to play well to have a chance to win - again we work hard too, and we're going to try to play our best football as well and it should be a heck of a rivalry game.
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