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Illinois football head coach Lovie Smith critical of President Trump during weekly press conference

Smith: “We expect our players to be role models.”

Illinois v South Florida Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images

Illinois football head coach Lovie Smith held his weekly press conference in the Memorial Stadium press box Monday afternoon. Here are some takeaways and analysis from his presser ahead of the Illini’s Big Ten opener Friday night versus Nebraska.

  • “It seems like forever since we played.”
  • “Last year against Nebraska, we played a good game for the majority of the game, but we didn’t finish. Last time we played them here, big win for our program.” That was the Geronimo Allison Game.
  • “For us, offensively, it’s about putting points on the board. We’re about as healthy as we’ve been in a while.”
  • James Crawford will be available this week. He’s one of the team’s veteran leaders on defense.
  • Will Dre Brown play this year? “Hope so.” He hasn’t played in his three years in college, the last two due to injury.
  • The Illini spent the last few weeks doing “training camp work,” including fundamentals.
  • “I think what we’ve learned is we can be a pretty good football team.” The Illini are 2-1 currently.
  • “We need to see how we come back from a big loss. We know we can play a lot better than that.” The Illini lost 47-23 to South Florida in their last game.
  • “There’s not just one thing that we can say. There’s a lot that goes into quarterback play.” This was in response to what Chayce Crouch can do to get better again.
  • To generate more offense, we can “run our plays better.”
  • “Everything you’re looking for in a young tight end, Louis Dorsey has. He’s a good matchup in the passing game, whether it’s spreading him out, matching him up with a linebacker or a safety. I think he’s a weapon we need to use more often.”
  • “One thing you can say about Jeff George is he’s consistent. We’re bringing him in, and he can throw the football. He’s willing to let the ball go.”
  • “A lot of thoughts go into where we’re at right now. There’s guys taking a stand against what they feel is right in our country. Things said about private citizens. Our President as a whole. Is our president a role model? I’d say yes. There’s certain things you expect him to say and certain things you expect him to do. It’s brought a lot of people together. I voted for a certain person because of what they stood for. The President of the United States, there’s a certain level of respect and how you would behave, and that’s not the case right now. My opinions haven’t changed an awful lot about why I voted for a certain person. We coach, I coach college students. We teach them that if you have an opinion, say it. Constitutionally we have a right.”
  • “Is it okay for someone to call another American to call another names? I’m asking you. To me, it’s not.”