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  • Writer's pictureJoey Jarzynka

Illinois's Lovie Smith Weekly Press Conference

Opening statement.. "Just a little recap from the last game, then we will move on. Of course it's disappointing, a team that we played a lot better a year before. Sometimes we just don't have it for whatever reason, did not play well. Started off okay but made too many mistakes. It hurts when you lose your quarterback going into the second period, it's a good game. That big run they had kind of snowballed after that. Too many missed tackles and things like that, so not many good things to talk about in that game. You can't wait to get to the next week after what happened. A Lot of things going on here this week. any time you have a chance to honor one of the all time greats to play the game, it's not just what he did for the University of Illinois but for what he did for football in general. So to see a statue of Dick Butkus there makes sense and seems right. And to dedicate our building officially. Of course we've been in it for a while, it's meant a ton to our program now and going forward. But then after you go through all of that you have a football game this week. And playing Michigan itself kind of tells you what's at stake. A program with a lot of tradition, haven't played them for a couple of years but didn't play them well last time. Hopefully we are better suited to play them this week. Of course offensively they've changed on what they've traditionally done, they're more of a spread attack. They will give us a little different of a look from what you see from the Michigan right now. And defensively they are one of the best in the country. Play an aggressive form of ball so it will be a big challenge for us. Injury wise, we had a few injuries from the game that we will get to practice to see exactly where we are, of course im not going to talk about injuries until the game gets here."

On Matt Robinson's performance in place of the injured Brandon Peters "I think he did okay for a backup quarterback coming  into a game in a tough situation. I think we could have helped matt with some of the passes we dropped. I thought the protection was pretty well most of the time. When you're in a situation like that of course you need to be able to rally around a running game and be able to really establish that. As I mentioned when we get an opportunity to pass the ball we need to complete the catch."

On the defensive scores… "Well I hope (the scores) are contagious. We haven't scored defensively around here in so long and that's one of our main goals. We start every game wanting to do that. You have to acknowledge that and those were both big plays for a mike linebacker to score, intercept the ball and get in the end zone. When you go on the road that's how you want to start a game and Jake Hansen has made play after play throughout the year. Great pass rush, and when you get to the quarterback to not just think "sack" but to also get the football out also. So yes you like that but it's so much more than that. When you don't play the run well and give up big plays it kind of offsets some of the positives of that."

On Dick Butkus coming to speak to the team this week… "Dicks presence is here anyway. Of course you go into the stadium and you see the number at the top that gets your attention if you don't know it. But I think most people associate it with Illinois football players, and they know who Dick Butkus is. But sometimes one of the things is to see the number and the statue. And as we talk about tackling better and playing better defense, I think it will help you a little bit. I know if you need a little more motivation than I know Dick Butkus can give you that as he meets with the team this week. He's gonna pump the guys up and get them ready the best he can."

On being able to come back to Champaign and play big opponents… "I think you make a good point in that when you are disappointed in your play, where would you like to play? At home. There's comfort in coming back home and getting a chance to play at home. I talked about the things going on here this weekend, but in front of our home crowd and our fans. Last time we played here we had another traditional program in Nebraska. Our fans were outstanding. I know we're going to get the same thing here this week. Yes the guys are excited about the two game homestand we have coming up, starting this weekend."

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