Lovie Smith met the media after a dud of a performance on Saturday in Minnesota. The Illini dropped their third straight game, giving up 40 points in the second straight contest.
The road does not get any easier for Illinois as they host two Big-Ten heavy weights in Michigan and Wisconsin in the next few weeks.
Here’s what head coach Lovie Smith had to say about:
The loss to Minnesota:
Sometimes we just don’t have it, we started off well but made too many mistakes.
Not enough good things to really talk about in that game (Minnesota).
Of course, disappointing. Some times we just don’t have it, for whatever reason. Just didn’t play well.
It’s about who executes. It’s as simple as that. We haven’t been executing as well as we need to — offensively or defensively.
On the defense:
I hope (defensive TDs) are contagious. We haven’t scored in so long around here defensively. You have to acknowledge that. They’re both big plays. (in reference to Dele Harding’s pick-six and Milo Eifler’s scoop and score).
When you don’t play the run well and give up big plays it kind of offsets some of the positives of (defensive TDs).
Jake Hansen has made play after play throughout the year. Great pass rush.
Get ‘em down (on his philosophy for tackling). Hopefully we’ll wrap them up more.
We miss tackles... it’s been the biggest problem that we’ve had.
How do big plays happen? Miss tackles. Miss tackles attribute to most of them.
I can’t wait until the day we’re talking about our defense like (Michigan’s).
On the run game:
We need to get back to our run more. We’re a running football team. A running football team has to be able to run the ball.
So far, we haven’t been able to run the ball as well as we will going forward.
The upcoming game against Michigan:
They (Michigan) have changed, it’s more of a spread attack...it is gonna be a challenge for us.
Defensively, Michigan has one of the best defenses in the country. That will be a challenge.
Michigan in itself tells you what you have at stake. Have not played them in awhile.
Jim Harbaugh has changed offensive philosophies. More spread attack. Traditionally was old-school Big Ten offensive play.
When you’re disappointed in your play, you’d like to play at home. There’s comfort coming back home. Our fans were outstanding vs. Nebraska. I know they’re going to be excited this week.
Peters knew Michigan was on the schedule. I know he’s pumped up. Hoping he’ll be ready to go this week.
The team’s injuries (specifically to quarterbacks Isaiah Williams and Brandon Peters):
They’re getting better. Haven’t been enough time to determine. Always concerning when player doesn’t return to a game. Isaiah didn’t make the trip. Neither is a season-ending injury.
Not going to talk about injuries.
On Matt Robinson (who came into and finished the game for Brandon Peters):
I think he did okay for a backup quarterback (Matt Robinson). I think we could have helped more with dropped passes.
There is a different approach for Matt (Robinson) right now.
On Dick Butkus:
Dick Butkus will speak with the team this week, and get them pumped up the best he can.
Every one of our players know who Dick Butkus is. ... As we talk about tackling better and playing better defensively, if you need a little more motivation I know Dick Butkus can give you that.
Most people associate Dick Butkus with Illinois.
On (team MVP?) Blake Hayes:
PUNT GAME, Blake Hayes has been excellent.
The Illini will square off this weekend against Michigan at 11:00 AM at Memorial Stadium and on Big Ten Network. This weekend also brings the Illini dedicating a statue to one of their best athletes in school history, Dick Butkus.