Illinois' Lovie Smith Press Conference Quotes 11/19/19
COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Opening statement… "Bye week never comes at a bad time, of course it seemed like it was a perfect time for us. Had a chance to heal up a little bit more, so hopefully we will have most of our guys ready to go this week. Also a good time to get a bit of recruiting in. And then to just be a fan a little bit, watch football on the weekend, which i was able to do. We realized where we are with our program. We realized how big of a game it is for us each week. The games do get a little bigger, and that's exactly where we wanna be in November. It's taken an awful lot to get us fired up, and we are anxious to play this game. We were embarrassed on our home turf last year, Iowa is a good football team and of course has an outstanding coach, outstanding program. So it will be a good challenge for us to go on the road, but we accept that challenge. I guess it seems like it's been forever since we played, but again we kind of realize where we are and what is at stake. A lot of things as far as goals for us is still up there. I talked to the team today, it's kind of the same approach we take each week and that's getting ready for the next opponent. It's about winning one game this week, playing the best football we've played all year, and that's where we are."
On what he saw in Iowa vs. Minnesota… "I saw what you see most times, they're gonna play hard and play for 60 minutes throughout. Of course they jumped out to a big lead, Minnesota, of course, having a good year and they came back on Iowa and it ended up being a classic Big Ten football game at the end. Defensively, Iowa plays good defense and have been for a long period of time, and this year is no exception. They have one of the best defensive linemen in football. On the offensive side, it seems Nathan Stanley has been there forever. Outstanding football player, seems to make all throws, a big guy who sticks in the pocket. And a commitment to the run, and it's been that way with Iowa. A bit more two-back than we've seen, so both of us know each other well and we are looking forward to the game."
On the team's success on the road this year… "I think most teams, especially the Big Ten places that we go to, are hard. It's tough in general going on the road, you have a home team advantage, but it helps when you've done it before. Going to Purdue is a tough place, going to Michigan State is a tough place. But good football teams have to go on the road and win, and i feel we are equipped to do that. We run the football on the offensive side, we put an emphasis on ball security and taking the ball away on defense. So, yes, tough to go on the road but we are looking forward to it."
On the secondary's growth throughout the year… "Young. We are young still. And it takes a while. Some players, you talk about Sydney Brown missing all of training camp. We moved Tony Adams there a little bit later on. The transition that we've gone through back there, sometimes it takes a bit longer than we all would like to see the product that we really wanted. We wanted to see it many weeks before. But the guys have continued to work hard, and we have a talented group, and we feel like we have the guys in the right positions. And getting Stanley Green back, there's a lot of things that went in to getting the group of four guys back there now, and we like this group going forward."
On how Donny Navarro earned his scholarship… "There are a lot of ways to get on a college football team. One is to get a scholarship, but there's another path of just believing in yourself and asking the program to give you an opportunity to earn the scholarship, and that's the path Donny took. And how you earn it is showing up everyday, doing what's right off the field in the classroom, and Donny is a good student. But then when you get out there in practice, and every rep you get proving to the coaching staff that you belong. And eventually if you continue on the practice field proving you belong, you will get reps out there. I've never seen a player that didn't deserve to play and get reps. It always works out when you get an opportunity like Donny got, which lead to the Wisconsin game and you make a play. We take note as a coaching staff, and if you deserve to get time we will give it to you. And if you eventually deserve to be on scholarship, we will give that to you. We want our program to be known for that."