Nov. 26, 2011
Minnesota (3-9, 2-6 Big Ten) 27, Illinois (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten) 7
Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill
“I think the big thing for me is that I couldn’t be happier for the senior group that’s walking out of here. They’ve been through so many things through their years here at the University of Minnesota: they’ve been great hanging in there through this year and just working to get better. I’m so happy for them, and they’ve set the tone for us going forward. They’ll always be a part of the start we’ve had with our coaching tenure. I’m so glad they get to go out like this, because you always remember your last game. I played this game a long time ago. I can still remember the last time I played on a football field. I’m so happy for them, their families, and our program. It’s a big win for us and helps us move into the off season.”
On improvements since Nebraska…
“I can tell you there aren’t many programs in college football that have gone full pads on Tuesday and Wednesday for the last 4-5 weeks, but I do think it’s made a difference in our football team. I think we’ve tackled better, we’ve blocked better, we’ve been more physical. I think that’s helped us, and our kids’ attitude. Our kids have come to practice every week, even when we’ve been beat, they come to work, they don’t complain, and we just keep pushing forward. I think they’ve kind-of figured it out the last four weeks, and unfortunately I wasn’t a good enough coach to get them to figure it out when I first got here, or we’d be farther along. But that’s part of a process you have to go through. Again, I’m happy for the kids and we’re going to keep pushing forward.
On Gray’s game…
“He made some awful good decisions today. He ran the ball, made good decisions… we have to catch the ball better for him, but any time you can win and your quarterback can make plays – he could be an awful good player. I’m certainly pleased with his progress, and the one thing I said he did wrong was when he broke that long run, don’t go out of bounds, stay down and keep the clock running, but he’s learning. That credit goes to the kids. They’ve been relentless, they’ve shut everything out and just tried to get better, and that’s all we can do at the end of the day.
On what needs to be worked on for next season…
“It’s continuity with the whole football team. Our whole football team’s got to get fundamentally better at every phase of the game. That comes through repetition. They know what we expect now. We’ll break this film and the season down and give them a lot of things to improve upon. The one thing our coaches have done is they’ve been consistent the whole time. We’ve sent the same message, watched the same film, and said ‘this is what you’ve got to do to get better,’ and they’ve done a good job of listening. We still have to learn how to play football, we still have a lot of learning to do, we still make mistakes.
On the defense today…
“Our defense played awful well, we got to take our hats off to our defensive coaches. They did a tremendous job of getting the kids ready to play, and they played well. The first half was as good of football that we’ve played since I’ve been here, what I’m used to. I’m excited, I’ll be honest with you. That’s what Coach Kill is used to, a physical, hard-nosed football team that can run the ball and play defense. We certainly have to get better in some phases, but we have a lot of time to get that accomplished. We tackled better, and I think that’s the way we practiced and the kids’ attitudes and wanting to get better, but I think we’ve executed. We take mental errors each week and tally them, try to cut them down. That’s how we teach. Each week we’ve cut down some mental mistakes, but we’ve gotten better. We’ve done a pretty good job of not giving up big plays, we were giving up big plays early. We’ve kept the ball in front of us, we tackle well, our defensive line is aggressive. Teams that win championships have to be good on defense. We’ll recruit hard and keep moving that part of the team forward.
On his support from Gopher fans…
“The students have been tremendous to me since I came here – everybody has. People in the state of Minnesota, the students, have all been great to my family and I and I’m a little bit disappointed that we haven’t delivered more. That’s our job and we understand that. The students have been great, and again, we have to put a product out there like we played today and do that every week, then we won’t have to worry about anything. We’ll have great student support like we’ve had all year, and it’ll get better if we continue to put a good product out there. The support’s been great, we just have to continue improving our football game. We all know winning solves a lot of problems.
Senior Safety Kim Royston
On the season..
“We’ve grown not only as a defense but as a team since day one. I think the program is in great hands with Coach Kill, and I think there are great things to come.”
On his last play..
“I am just extremely, extremely happy for my last play to be a sack instead of my last play being a broken leg.”
On stopping the run…
“It was a great feeling seeing that front seven have a great game like they did.”
Junior Place Kicker Jordan Wettstein
On kicking in today’s weather…
“Coach has done a great job with getting me mental strength to where it should be.”
Answer to being asked if a 60-yard field goal was possible..
“There was a little wind on that right side, I just let it float out there. I didn’t hit it the best but you could probably hit it from the 60 today.”
Senior Linebacker Gary Tinsley
On winning his last game…
“I appreciate it all it is a wonderful feeling to be able to go out like this.”
On the game…
“We played tonight like it was a bowl game.”
On how the season ended…
“Nobody ever quit on each other, that’s why we finished as strong as we did.”
Senior Running Back Duane Bennett
On life after football…
“Me being accustomed to waking up and going to go life and seeing these guys on the regular. It’ll be a little different coming out of class and realizing that I don’t have anything to do.”
Junior Quarterback MarQueis Gray
On the running game…
“The offensive line was dominating up front… and doing a great job of opening up holes for us.”
On the preparation for today’s game…
“Me and Coach Z. all week talked about keeping my feet moving when contact was happening and that’s what I did today.”
Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook
On the game/performance…
“We didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing. We talked about it all week—Minnesota is a much improved football team. Their quarterback is something to be reckoned with, and we didn’t get it done.”
“We didn’t have any offense, particularly in the first half. We turned the ball over, things we said we couldn’t do. We lost energy. It’s kind of the way it’s been the last four or five weeks.”
“When you get in situations like that it’s about life. When things start going bad somebody’s got to stand up and take over. We didn’t get that part done”
On fixing problems…
“I wish I had the answer but it’s not just one thing, it’s not just one position, it’s not just one person. It’s an accumulation of things and it all starts with me.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind we’re very, very close. In this league there’s a play here and a play there, and you just can’t screw up. When things started going south for us we didn’t stand up and rise up. But I’m still proud of our guys. The foundation here is very solid. There are a lot of good young players coming back that have a chance to make this team very successful.”
“There’s not a whole lot I could say. I said it’s up to you guys. You guys have to stand up. I told them Monday it’s not about me, it’s about you. This is your football team. You have to decide how you want to be remembered.”
“I think they’re a much better football team than what we’ve shown and that falls on me.”
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase
Execution throughout the game ..
“There was a couple of third down plays that we needed to execute better but we just didn’t make the plays. We didn’t execute early this game. This is something that could of helped our performance as a team.”
On the game…
“It was surprising that we didn’t come out with more fire after such a good week of practice.”
On the aggressive defense…
“They came out strong and aggressive. It’s not just the quarterback that has to pick up and adjust its also the offensive line and everybody else that has to adjust to what’s coming at you.”
Wide Receiver A.J Jenkins
On the game…
“ This game was frustrating but we have to learn from it regardless if we’re going to be in a bowl game or not.”
On Head Coach Ron Zook..
“I wouldn’t trade my coach for the world. He has turned my career around and is a farther figure to me.”
Quarterback Reily O’Toole
On his performance today…
“In previous games I haven’t took care of the ball as much but today I feel like I did a better job of that.”
On extended playing time…
“I am trying to get use to the game but I felt more comfortable as the game went on.”
Gophers To Play BYU, Colorado
The Minnesota football program has agreed to future home-and-home series with BYU and Colorado.
Game 8: Minnesota at Illinois
Minnesota plays at Illinois at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The game can be seen on BTN and can be heard on KFAN.
Double OT With Coach Claeys After Rutgers
Coach Claeys answered more questions after his Facebook Live show last night.