CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Lovie Smith spoke Monday at his weekly press conference—the first one he has had after a Big Ten win in almost two years. The Illini defeated Rutgers on Saturday, 38-17, for their first conference victory since Nov. 5, 2016, and they welcome Purdue to Champaign on Saturday for Illinois’ Homecoming game.
So what did Lovie say on Monday...
- “We needed to get a win in the worst way. Rutgers was in front of us, just like Purdue is this week. You need to have a miscroscope in front of us and we do now. Big win for us, though.”
- “As we go into Big Ten play, we have an opportunity. We haven’t been over .500 in Big Ten play since we’ve been here, and for that to happen we have to hone in microscopically.”
- “We made some changes. When you get to the bye week and evaluate where you are, that’s what we did. Sydney Brown, Tony Adams in particular moving them into the starting lineup at both safety positions. They played hard, flying around, a good start.”
- “Defensively, we have to keep taking the ball away. One of the most important statistics you can look at is turnover ratio.”
- “The star of the game was our offensive line. They did a great job getting our running backs to the second level. Loved what they were able to do. The O-line and, of course, the rest of the crew.” But also: “Wide receivers need to do a great job blocking down the field.”
- “Not satisfied by any means, but we can run the ball.”
- “The amount of pressure we’ve been able to put on opponents is disappointing... We need to be able to win more times than we have so far.”
- “Being relentless. That’s what [Reggie Corbin] has done. He can make you miss in the open field. He’s had consistent play this season. You just have to stay the course.”
- “Very pleased. That’s how AJ [Bush] has been since he’s been here. He expected to come back in, and we can do a lot of things with him, just looking from a defensive point of view, when you have a guy who can take off like that, it causes problems.”
- “I know he’s a true freshman, but look at what he’s done, evaluate the player, and he’s pretty good. He’s as impressive as anyone I’ve seen in a while.” - on Purdue RB Rondale Moore
Illinois Soccer Update
Illinois Soccer head coach Janet Rayfield also took the podium Monday afternoon.
“Coming off a tough loss, but a split weekend on the road for us,” Rayfield said. “We sit in a three-way tie for seventh. It’s one of the tightest races in the Big Ten we’ve seen in a while. We’re in control of being eligible for postseason play.”
The soccer team will also hold Illini Athletics’ first Pride Night on Thursday during their home match.
On the progress of the team throughout the year: “We’ve seen a lot of grit and determination. Our freshmen are maturing, they’re starting to figure that out.”
For vintage inspired, high quality, and well-designed University of Illinois apparel, check out Fourth and Kirby, and look for the TCR Collection while you’re at it!