Illinois head football coach Lovie Smith held his weekly press conference Monday afternoon inside the press box at Memorial Stadium. Following a dominating win over Western Kentucky as the home underdogs Saturday night, the Illini hit the road for a non-conference matchup against South Florida this Friday.
Here are some of our takeaways from Smith’s presser.
- “A good weekend for Illini athletics. The volleyball team got us pumped up.” The Illini attended Illinois volleyball’s Stuff Huff game vs. Stanford on Friday.
- “Mike Epstein continues to be Mike Epstein.” The freshman running back has had two big games so far in his career.
- “To be underdogs at home, our guys took it to heart.” The Illini were 7-point underdogs vs. Western Kentucky.
- “Right now we have a game Friday night; nothing has changed. I know there’s been speculation. I have a home in Tampa, so I’ve been watching slowly. We’re planning on getting on the plane Thursday and playing on Friday.” South Florida was hit Sunday by Hurricane Irma.
- Smith said that Tre Watson’s targeting call at the end of the first half was “not intentional.”
- Smith is comfortable with punter Blake Hayes through two career games, and he was impressed with his sky punt to down the Hilltoppers near their end zone. “He had never watched a college football game.”
- “We’re playing a ranked opponent, and they’re a good football team.” South Florida (2-0) is ranked No. 22.
- “We know that it’s a national television audience.” The game is on ESPN this Friday night.
- “We’re in constant communication with everyone associated with Illinois football.”
- “I’m not a touchy, feely guy” on going back to coach at Raymond James Stadium.
- “I don’t have a whole lot of time to think about the past right now. This is an ideal situation.”
- On rebuilding situation (from question from Tampa Bay Times reporter): “We’re 2-0 right now.”