Zook: Ducks are 'dadgum good'
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CHAMPAIGN – Thanks to Thursday night football, Ron Zook got to see top-ranked Oregon. And he liked what he saw.
"To me, they looked like they could have beat the Pittsburgh Steelers," Zook said. "They're not going to play that well every week, but the game I saw they were pretty dadgum good."
Zook is a voting member in the coaches' poll, which ranks the Ducks No. 1 and Boise State No. 2.
Each week, Zook gets the scores before making his picks.
"I try to objective," Zook said. "I vote how I feel the teams should be."
Illinois will recognize three of the teams in the Top 10. Its losses are against No. 5 Michigan State, No. 7 Missouri and No. 10 Ohio State.
Missouri knocked off BCS then-No. 1 Oklahoma on Saturday in Columbia.
"Missouri's a pretty good team," Zook said.
Illinois was among those receiving votes in the coaches' poll. Northern Illinois got one vote in each poll.
Aches, pains. Zook said injured tailback Jason Ford is "better than we thought" after suffering a sprained ankle against Indiana.
"Right now, I feel pretty good that Jason will be fine (for the Purdue game)," Zook said.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has a bruised hand from getting stepped on in the first half.
"Scheelhaase is fine," Zook said. "The swelling is down. I didn't think it was an issue."
The news isn't as good for team physician Jeff Kyrouac, who suffered a broken leg during an incident on the sidelines. He had surgery Sunday morning.
"They fixed him," Zook said. "He's got a road to go. He'll be fine. He'll heal."
Zook said he expects safety Steve Hull to return from a sprained ankle.
Familiar face. Illinois recruited Purdue starting quarterback Rob Henry but didn't offer the Florida product a scholarship.
Henry used to attend Illinois summer camps and wanted to play for the Illini. But Zook had other quarterback commitments.
"You can't take them all," Zook said. "He's a great, great kid and I'm happy things are working out for him."
Penalty points. Freshman linebacker Jonathan Brown was called for a pair of illegal block in the back penalties. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.
"They were penalties that they can call, but they don't call them very often," Zook said. "By the letter of the law, yes, they were penalties. But they're not always called that way."
Take it back. Illinois had 107 yards of kickoff returns Saturday, 92 by Troy Pollard. It blocked two punts and continued solid coverage.
"I don't know that we're coaching it any different or any harder," Zook said. "It's clicking right now."
Jack Ramsey, who fumbled two punts against Penn State, had one return for 2 yards against the Hoosiers.
"I don't have any problem with Jack," Zook said. "I think Jack is confident and he'll be fine. After the Penn State game, I thought maybe it would be good to have a game off. He's been catching a lot of punts (in practice)."
Stats and stuff. Holding Indiana to 13 points did the Illinois defense some good in the national rankings. The Illini moved from 24th to 15th in scoring defense and from 23rd to 19th in rushing defense.
Illinois is fourth in net punting and Anthony Santella is fifth in punting average.