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Bielema sounds off on roster, Illini hope to get back on track in Happy Valley

After last week’s loss, Illinois heads to Penn State on Saturday.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Hoffman / USA TODAY NETWORK

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Illini are coming off their worst loss of the Bret Bielema era, and a bye week. Offensive Coordinator Tony Petersen, Defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters and head coach Bret Bielema met the media on Monday to discuss the 24-0 loss to Wisconsin last weekend and preview this week’s road contest against No. 7 Penn State.

Here’s what Petersen had to say about:

On the bye week

“Just trying to get back to some bases and fundamentals.”

“The off week sometimes they can be good, they can be bad.”

“Sometimes you’d like to get right back out there.”

Playing Penn State

“They’ve got a really strong defense.”

“[We need to] make sure we aren’t putting our guys in a bad situation, especially against a team like Penn State.”


“We’re young at the wide receiver position.”

“[Josh McCray] is and he’s gonna be a great back for us down the road.”


“Looks like Deuce Spann will be back practicing. Everybody else is healthy at the wideout spot.”


“I’ve never seen a head coach work harder than Bret Bielema.”

“We’re selling Coach B, we’re selling our staff, we’re selling our family atmosphere here.”

The Wisconsin loss

Here’s what Walters had to say about:

The Bye Week

“Just working on fundamentals, technique.”

“We got better, which is always the goal.”

“To see where [developmental guys] were from the start of camp to where they are’ve seen jumps though for sure.”


“The evaluation process is a lot harder if you’re looking at a screen.”

“[Bret Bielema] sets the standard at the top.”

This week against Penn State

“They have a lot of speed on the perimeter, and they put them in multiple spots.”

“They’re a top-ten team for a reason.”

The defense

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this deep at an inside linebacker position.”

“We haven’t done enough, it’s a team game.”

“Our guys have had an awareness of where the football is, and attacking it.”

“You’ve got to be obsessed with turnovers to create them.”

“I’d much rather get off the field on first down than third down.”

“[Chase and Sydney Brown are] definitely wired a little bit different.”

Here’s what Bielema had to say about:


“BP did throw the ball yesterday, I do think at somepoint this week we could possibly get his return.”

“Jake Hansen is going through further testing, he won’t be with us this week.”

“Right now [Mike Epstein] won’t be with us for the rest of the year.”

“I do expect Seth [Coleman] to be with us this week.


“At certain positions it’s very apparent that we are going to have to acquire a lot of players through the transfer world.”

“As a head coach, you’re only as good as your roster.”

“The roster is going to have to change to get where we want to be to win a championship.”

“I know what we’re going to be able to do, we’re just going to have some bumps in the road before we get there.”

“I don’t believe we have a player in the 2-deep that they’ve recruited here over the last 3 years that is really significantly doing anything for us in the playing department, that’s a major concern.”

“I’ve got to make tough decisions, players have to make decisions and the roster is going to have to change.”

This week’s game against Penn State

“Anything can happen on any given Saturday.”


“There were some guys who played in the first three games that have continued to play throughout, Josh [McCray] being one of them.”

“There will be position changes that you will see Saturday during the game.”

“It’s got to be about who gives you the best chance to win.”