Illinois 23, Michigan State 20
 
 
 

 

 
 

Sept. 30, 2006

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Michigan State Head Coach John L. Smith

Opening Statement...
First I have to give credit to the Illini. They played hard and deserved to win. And then I have to look at ourselves and say that it's our fault as coaches - we didn't get our kids prepared to play the game. If you go out unprepared, emotionally and mentally, you're going to lose and deserve to lose. We didn't prepare well from either of those standpoints. Consequently, what we're going to do is rather than point the fingers at everybody, we're going to point the fingers at ourselves, as players and coaches, and we're going to come to the field and we're going to work hard to see if we can't get better. We've got a long way to go.

On the rest of the season...
There's a lot to play for, tons to play for. I try to tell the guys on the field that all the losers in the world are the ones that sit out there and blame each other - look at yourself. You can point the finger at the guy next to you, but that's not going to help. What you have to do is go out to the field and point the finger at ourselves and get better.

Michigan State Sophomore Quarterback Brian Hoyer

On how the game was bittersweet for him...
It was just bitter, it wasn't sweet at all. We want to go out there and win the game. I would have given that playing time for the win any day.

On playing with more emotion...
I think we have to put that on ourselves as a team. We have to come out with some emotion and play hard. We didn't come out in the first half. It started to kick in at the end, but it was a little too late.

On the team's attitude...
I don't know that we didn't want to be out there, we just came out a little flat. It was a wet day, but we cannot make excuses for anything. We have to come out with emotion, like everyday is the last game we're going to play. Play every play like it's the last play you're going to get. We have to go to the practice field with some emotion, practice hard and it will transform into the game.

 

 

Michigan State Senior Quarterback Drew Stanton

On rebounding from the fumble on the first drive ...
It was not tough to rebound, but we needed to do a better job of executing. We did not come away with any points, but I think we were throwing the ball at will.

On turning the ball over on the goal line ...
Turnovers on the goal line can be very costly. If we go in there and score, it can be a whole different story as far as momentum goes. I think we need to go out there and put points up as an offense and there is no excuse for not putting up points.

On players coming down with injuries ...
We are very thin at the offensive line, and that's where it starts, up front, in order for us to have success.

On losing Javon Ringer...
Javon is a special player, hopefully he will be back and rebound quickly. Regardless, there are no excuses, we just have to go out there and be prepared to play better

On the play of T.J. Williams ...
I think he played very well, he really stepped up. As much talk as he has been doing in the past, he backed it up today. It is good to see some of those young guys contribute.

On the remainder of the season ...
We have to go back to the drawing board and make a good season out of this because we are still a good football team.

Michigan State Junior Defensive Back SirDarean Adams

On not being mentally and emotionally prepared...
It's true. We didn't play like we've been practicing all week. We need to be prepared mentally and take advantage of every day we have. We went out there and didn't play with any heart. We had heart at the end of the game, and a little bit at the beginning, but we didn't go out and play the full four quarters.

On how last week's loss affected this game...
That game is over. It was last week, what can we do about it? We can't rewind time. We lost this game because we lost this game. We didn't put the emotion in that we needed. Illinois came in and played with their heart, and they won the game.

Michigan State Senior Defensive Tackle Clifton Ryan

On Illinois ...
First of all you've got to give credit to those guys. Their game plan was excellent and they executed. Their players and coaches did a great job. They came in with a great plan against our defense and we struggled the whole game. They came in knowing they were going to run the ball with their quarterback and our defense came out on the short end of the stick, and Illinois earned the victory.

On the end of the game...
That shouldn't have happened at the end of the game. This was a big victory for their program, and they just got caught up in the moment, it's nothing that I hold against them. Bottom line is they came into our stadium and got a win.

About the Spartans' upcoming games...
At this point we need to refocus. We have two big games coming up against Michigan and Ohio State. We are still a good football team and we need to prove that starting tomorrow.

Michigan State Junior Safety Nehemiah Warrick

On the play of the Spartan defense...
We aren't going to point any fingers at anybody. We're a team, we lose together and we win together, but we played hard and hoped to come up with the win.

On the toughness of the rest of the schedule ...
We need to get it together and work hard, every time we get down we need to rebound. It's the little things - you need to work hard in practice, and try to go out the next week and get the `W'.

On Coach Smith's criticism of practices leading up to the game ...
I don't know, we take it as it is, take it a day at a time, and work hard. Like I said, I don't want to point any fingers, you win together and you lose together. When one of our heads are down, all of our heads are down. We don't point any fingers, offense or defense, we just have to start preparing to win. This is the Big Ten, and we didn't see this coming at all. That happens in football, but good teams need to be able to bounce back.

Michigan State Junior Linebacker Kaleb Thornhill

On the team's practices leading up to the game ...
I came out and I tried to get the guys going. We showed some emotion at points during practice and on the field obviously, but we need to have more of a constant energy, a constant want to win, and go to practice to get better - and right now we don't have that.

On Illinois' running game...
A gap wrong here, a gap wrong there, a ball gets tipped away, a guy makes a mistake here. We just made too many mental errors. We did a good job in the first half, but we just had too many breakdowns in the second half.

On what happened during the last drive
They had a couple good runs, they kept chipping away. On the third down, the quarterback was able to scramble. It was a key first down for them, and they chipped away from there.

On mental errors and poor practice week
We had too many mental errors, and we did not practice well this week. We are going to have to get better and practice with more emotion this week.

Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook

Opening Statement ...
I told our football team - I'm glad with the way that we fought all game. We had to overcome some adversity because they kept coming at us late in the game. I told our guys after the game, we need to build on this. We are starting to play like we should be playing, and they are starting to believe it. That is part of learning how to win, which we are dealing with right now. But, we will deal with that more on Monday. Right now, I want to enjoy what we have done. Michigan State is a heck of a football team and it is a little bit more satisfying for us that we were able to come into their place and play a good football game.

On the play of freshman quarterback Isiah "Juice" Williams ...
Our offensive staff has done a great job of letting him do the things that he can do. Juice just hung in there. He made some mistakes, but he keeps getting better and better just like we knew he would.

On the final drive of the game ...
I went and asked (kicker) Jason Reda how far we needed to get it for him and he said for us to just get it to the 30 yard line. We run the two minute drill like that everyday in practice, so I told our guys it was just like we do it in practice and we need a field goal. We executed it well.

On the play of the defense...
I'm so proud of them. They continue to find the football and get better and better each week. Same thing with the defensive coaches, they let us do the things that we are capable of doing. There were a couple times where they could have hung their heads, but they kept fighting and I think that is a sign that they are beginning to grow up a little bit. They are beginning to understand that when you play a good football team, that happens. I always tell our team that it is a 100 yard field, and even though on the first drive they (Michigan State) got down to the one or two yard line, we forced the fumble and continued to battle.

Illinois Junior Kicker Jason Reda

On Michigan State freshman kicker Brett Swenson kicking a game tying field goal...
For him to come in and tie the game like that is amazing and a credit to him. I remember when I was at that point and how I would have been.

On the final field goal...
I was trying to block everything out and just put the ball through the uprights. I wasn't thinking about anything except doing what I know I can do.

On contributing to a victory...
Knowing that I helped the team as much I could is great and knowing that we came away with a victory is great.

Illinois Junior Defensive Back Kevin Mitchell

On the job the defensive line did...
They did a tremendous job. When you are able to put pressure on the quarterback you make him scramble the passes are going to be a little off and that helps the defensive backs out a lot.

On how the Illinois defense has been improving...
The defense has been progressing every week. We kept telling people that we're going to keep up with the offense.

Illinois Junior Linebacker J Leman

On the emotions of the team...
We did it. Our goal today was to shock the Spartans and I think we did that. Coach Zook kept telling us that there was going to be a game where we would fight for everything. Today we had to fight through the fumble being overturned and the interception being run back for a touchdown. I'm just so proud of Coach Zook, the team and how we fought today.

On the statement Illinois made...
I think we made a statement today. This our first Big Ten win and our first Big Ten road win in a while. This is not an easy place to play and that was a darn good football team.