Day after: Zook still mad
CHAMPAIGN – A day later, the feelings hadn't softened for Ron Zook. He isn't pleased with what happened Saturday at Madison, Wis.
"I'm not very happy," Zook said Sunday. "Hopefully, they're not happy. They're not going to be very happy this week."
And he's prepared to do something about it.
"Here's the deal: we're a better football team than we play at times," Zook said. "I think our fans deserve a better football team and they deserve to be upset. Hell, I'm upset. We're going to keep beating on the door until we get it right.
"I don't care if we've got to make changes. I don't want to make any changes today. We're going to evaluate everything."
What changes? Don't expect any hints during the week.
"If I make changes, you'll see them on Saturday," Zook said.
Not looking ahead
Of course, Zook will prepare his team for Iowa. The Hawkeyes beat the Illini 10-6 last season in Iowa City, ending Illinois' five-game winning streak.
"They're starting to peak," Zook said. "They're a good football team. There's no question they're going to come in here to beat us. But I think it goes back to this, we better take care of us. We better play the way we're capable of playing.
"We've lost two games that, in my opinion, we could have, should have won. We didn't. That's on us."
Illinois quarterback Juice Williams fell six spots in the national passing efficiency rankings. His three interceptions dropped him to No. 16. He remains eighth in the nation in total offense.
Zook said Saturday's loss was hard on his junior quarterback.
"Juice is upset," Zook said. "He should be upset. He's not the only one. But sometimes, the quarterback gets more credit than he deserves and he gets more blame than he deserves. That's part of it."
Zook wants Williams to improve his consistency. In the three games before Saturday, Williams had seven touchdown passes and one interception. Against Wisconsin, the ratio was 2:3.
"This is what Juice doesn't sometimes maybe understand, one minute everybody tells him how good of a player he is," Zook said. "Somebody brought up the thing about coming out at the end of three years.
"Let me tell you something, he better worry about next week. Then he better worry about the next week. He's a good quarterback and is going to be really good as he gains experience."
Illinois was called for eight penalties at Wisconsin, which is tied for the second most this season (it had nine against Louisiana-Lafayette).
"I can't comment on some of them," Zook said. "Some of them were penalties and some of them weren't. Like I tell (Big Ten officials chief) Dave Parry all the time, 'I get judged on the number of penalties called.' So people think we have an undisciplined football team. Our football team is as disciplined as anybody's.
"Sometimes, things are called that are maybe questionable. When you go on the road in a Big Ten game, you have to be better than the football team, you have to be better than the fans and you have to be better than the officials. That's just the way it is."
Zook said he didn't talk to Parry on Sunday.
"We didn't lose that game because of the officials," Zook said. "We lost that game because we didn't play the way we're capable of playing."
Zook said there are different kinds of penalties.
"You're going to have penalties in the game," Zook said. "We can't have stupid penalties. That's what I get upset about."
Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum suffered a season ending broken left leg in Saturday's win against Illinois. He had surgery Saturday night.
The senior All-American was a finalist for the John Mackey Award in 2007. He completes his Wisconsin career ranked third on school's reception and yardage lists.
Every game has a defining moment when the outcome is established. Here is the play from Saturday's Illinois-Wisconsin game:
The game is tied 17-17 early in the fourth quarter, but Illinois is closing in on the Wisconsin end zone. The Badgers had failed to move the ball from deep in their own territory on the previous drive, forcing Brad Nortman to punt from his own end zone. Though he got a good kick, the ball going 56 yards, Arrelious Benn's 12-yard return moved the Illini to the Wisconsin 47. On first down, Mikel Leshoure goes 7 yards and Jason Ford runs 10 more. A short run by Ford moves the Illini to the Wisconsin 29 as the third quarter expires.
Coming out of the break, the Illini are looking to make a quick strike. The underdog Badgers have stayed close the entire game and this is Illinois' chance to take command. Quarterback Juice Williams, who had been dominant in three previous games, drops back to pass and looks downfield toward freshman Fred Sykes. The play is well covered by the Badgers, with sophomore cornerback Niles Brinkley nearby.
Sykes gets his hand on the ball, but can't hang on. Brinkley grabs it out of the air at the Wisconsin 17 and takes off toward the end zone. Ford drags the Badger down, but not before Brinkley has gone
47 yards to the Illinois 36. Instead of an Illinois touchdown or field goal, Wisconsin moves into scoring position.
Thanks to P.J. Hill and Philip Welch, Wisconsin takes advantage of the opportunity. Hill gains 11 yards on two carries for a first down. Zach Brown gains 7 more, setting up Welch for a 38-yard field goal. The lanky freshman nails the kick, giving the Badgers a 20-17 lead. Wisconsin later adds another touchdown to clinch the upset victory. Illinois drops to 1-3
in road games this season.
THE RECORD (4-4)
Missouri 52 Illinois 42
Illinois 47 Eastern Illinois 21
Illinois 20 La.-Lafayette 17
Penn State 38 Illinois 24
Illinois 45 Michigan 20
Minnesota 27 Illinois 20
Illinois 55 Indiana 13
Wisconsin 27 Illinois 17
Saturday vs. Iowa, 2:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 vs. W. Mich.@, 11 a.m.
Nov. 15 vs. Ohio State, TBA
Nov. 22 at N'western, TBA
@ = at Detroit
After a week away, Illinois returns to Memorial Stadium to play Iowa. A quick read on the Hawkeyes:
The hot Hawkeyes, who had won their previous two games by a combined 83-25, took the weekend off. It's been an up and down season for Kirk Ferentz's team, which won its first three, then dropped its next three. All three losses were close, coming by a combined nine points.
WHO TO WATCH
Easy, running back Shonn Greene, who is third in the nation with 1,154 rushing yards this season. The junior has been above 100 yards in all eight games this season, with a high of 220 in the most recent win against Wisconsin. Greene is helping Iowa fans forget the troubles at quarterback, where Ricky Stanzi has replaced Jake Christensen as the starter.
WHERE TO WATCH
For the third time this season, the ABC cameras will be following the Illini. Illinois also appeared on the national network for games against Penn State and Michigan. For those outside of the Big Ten footprint, the game will be shown on ESPN. Illinois might get a fourth ABC appearance later in the season when Ohio State visits Memorial Stadium.
REASON TO WATCH
Just ask receiver Arrelious Benn, who never fails to mention that "I hate Iowa." A year ago, Ferentz and the Hawkeyes temporarily ended the feel-good story in Champaign with a victory at Iowa City. There will be some Hawkeye fans in town, but not as many as in the past.
BY THE NUMBERS
Ferentz looked like a goner after his first two Iowa seasons, going a combined 4-19. But a 7-5 third season was followed by a three-year mark of 31-7. Iowa feared losing Ferentz to the NFL and made him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. The next three years saw a slide, with the Hawkeyes finishing 7-5, 6-7 and 6-6. Off the field issues have also been a problem for Ferentz.
THE RECORD (5-3)
Iowa 46 Maine 3
Iowa 42 Fla. International 0
Iowa 17 Iowa State 5
Pitt 21 Iowa 20
Northwestern 22 Iowa 17
Michigan State 16 Iowa 13
Iowa 45 Indiana 9
Iowa 38 Wisconsin 16
Saturday at Illinois, 2;30 p.m.
Nov. 8 vs. Penn State
Nov. 15 vs. Purdue
Nov. 22 at Minnesota