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Post-Game Quotes: Illinois



Oct. 26, 2013

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Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement...
First of all, outstanding job by our football team. I thought it was a little different type of a football game because they were ahead 3-0, and we bounced back from fumbling in the end zone. We got a turnover, scored to make it 7-3, and they come right back down the field on our 1-yard line. On fourth-and-1, we stop them and really that's probably the turning point in the game. Then we're able to drive back down the field and score before the half to make it 14-3. Great job by our defense - obviously in the second half we played very, very well. Cook obviously played very well and spread the ball around when we did throw it and involved three running backs. I thought all three did an excellent job, and obviously it means our offensive line played well. Defensively, in the second half I don't think they got a first down (Illinois got one), so they played very well.

On this being the best the team has played in a game so far...
Like I said, we've handled some adversity. That's the thing that is impressive to me. We've remained pretty resilient as a football team. We've played very well away from home really since 2010. You know our guys sort of come together, and we are confident when we go away. It talks to team chemistry I think and good things happen when you have team chemistry. It wasn't as easy as the score would indicate. The first half was definitely in question and you have to credit Illinois with that, too. You know things can flow and momentum has a way of shifting and creating a lot things for a team.

On quarterback Connor Cook's play...
Conner got better. When you're a young player, you have a chance to sit back, re-group, re-establish yourself and move forward. He has tremendous talent. He was off a little bit throwing the football last week, but you know, he's able to re-group and move forward. That's being young, that's youth and I think that happen sometimes. Obviously with this play, there's always going to be more expected of him. You see him play like this and there's going to be very high expectations, but I know he's got talent. We've always known he has talent. I thought he did a great job taking care of our offense as well and running the football a little bit, distributing the ball, and had some great throws.

On how important the momentum is going into the rivalry game vs. Michigan next week...
We're 4-0 (in the Big Ten), which is where we wanted to be. But we'll worry about that tomorrow. All of our focus is really on the present. Let's have a good time on the bus and plane ride home, and we'll take care of business tomorrow.

On the goal line stand for a turnover on downs...
Our goal line defense had great penetration and we built a wall. Somebody must have topped it off. But we had great penetration, built a wall, topped it off, and it was a huge play of the game.

Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook

On being confident and sustaining confidence...
I have full confidence in myself. I always believe in myself no matter what the situation is. Coming off a performance I had last week, obviously, I was upset and really focused on things. I needed to get better at practice. I always believe in myself and have faith in myself and I told him [head coach Mark Dantonio] `Don't worry. We'll be okay.'

On the difference today...
I think it was great play calling. The run, too, helped out a lot, with play-action passes and just opening up the pass game because we were able to run the ball so well. I really don't know. Maybe it was the wind. I just go out there every single play and try to do whatever I can to make a play, to put our team in a situation managing a game and just trying to win a football game in general, but I just went out there and I was focused. Focused on the task at hand that I was playing Illinois.




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