Illinois is angry. The fanbase is angry, the coaches are angry, and the players are angry.
After the Illini lost 31-34 against Eastern Michigan, nobody has tried to hide their emotions about the loss.
in regards to all of the bashing from the fans, linebacker Jake Hansen said, “I think it was well deserved negativity, honestly. I think we deserve everything that you guys are gonna give us and I think all of the Illini fans out there, I think we owe it to them this Saturday to go out there and have a big performance.”
Head Coach Lovie Smith wasn’t happy with the loss either. Admitting that it shouldn’t have happened, and a goal the Illini wanted, wasn’t reached.
“When you score 31 points, that should give you the chance to win the football game” said Smith. “One of our goals was to finish 3-0 with the non-conference schedule.”
Clearly, that wasn’t accomplished, and after Saturday’s game, Hansen said the locker room was quiet.
“Everyone was beyond frustrated. Thats the only way I can put it.”
This frustration can all be forgiven with a good conference performance. Yes, Illinois didn’t have the best game, but it was a 34-31 loss, not a 63-0 loss. They fought, even with making mistakes. The team is just as done with losing as the fans are, and the guys on the field are the ones that have control of the record.
“I don’t think our kids are rattled one bit in terms of confidence,” said offensive coordinator Rod Smith. “I think they’re pissed off, I know I am.”
The team is focused on channeling that energy into preparation for starting the conference season. Although, it’s not going to forget how the loss made them feel.
Quarterback Brandon Peters said he thinks everyone on the team should take the loss to heart.
“I think the guys that aren’t even on the field should take it to heart,” Peters said. “I take that loss a lot on my shoulders as well. I made some bad mistakes with turnovers, missed some reads, missed some throws, so there’s a lot on my shoulders too... I feel like when you lose a game like that you let your team down.”
Peters threw for 297 yards, had two touchdowns and one interception while connecting on 59 percent of his passes.
And if those comments weren’t enough to show Illinois definitely isn’t happy about losing, players wanted to meet right away on Sunday to watch film together, proving how serious they are about improving.
“[Jake] Hansen was really the guy that drove for it,” Peters said. “We’ve got guys that really care and that want to win. When we lose a game like that, it does piss people off.”
Hansen seemed the most passionate about his feelings and what he wants for this team.
“I think we’re gonna show our true colors this Saturday,” he said. “I can tell you I’m gonna do everything in my physical and mental power that I have to get everyone ready for this game.”