After Illinois lost to Minnesota 41-14 on Saturday, head coach Lovie Smith discussed the game and what the Illini are doing this week to prepare for Rutgers.
Here’s what he had to say:
On loss to Minnesota
- They have evaluated the video and spent a lot of time watching it.
- Changes have to be made and they are working to make those necessary corrections.
On players out due to contact tracing
- The players who were out because of contact tracing protocol will be back on Wednesday this week.
- It is very exciting and Lovie is looking forward to having them back.
- They have been able to workout on their own during isolation.
- They have a 1-2 record, but their two losses were still impressive. They were able to stay in the game against Indiana and scored 27 points against Ohio State.
- The Illini are familiar with this Rutgers team and personnel since they play each other often.
- Illinois are underdogs.
On feelings after 0-3 start
- Every snap from the Minnesota game was went over in detail and watched numerous times.
- Now, the team has moved on and are ready to face Rutgers this Saturday.
- While they are disappointed, there is no panic.
- There is still lots of football left to be played.
On the expectations before the season
- There were high expectations coming into this season and they had them for a reason.
- As seen last season, they know how to turn things around.
- The season isn’t over yet.
On offensive line
- They are better than this. They have had discussions and acknowledged what happened.
- Doug Kramer will be back this week and play this weekend.
- As a captain, Kramer is an important piece that will help get the o-line back on track.
- The o-line benefits from having the best players out on the field, which starts with the center.
- This group of linemen have played together for a while, so having Kramer back should put them back in place.
On Alex Pihlstrom
- Initially, he was a tight end who came to practice and worked hard everyday.
- Pihlstrom got stronger and bigger, which got him time on the offensive line.
- If someone deserves to play, they will get the opportunity to eventually.
- He was not given a scholarship - he earned it.
- Moving forward with players who were out coming back, he is still in the mix to play.