Zook weighs in on decision-making

Ask Tate what he would have done here

CHAMPAIGN – Of course, he would do it differently if he had another chance. Ron Zook now knows the results.

But at the time, his team leading by seven and Michigan using a reserve quarterback, Zook thought "punt" on fourth and 1 from his 42. With the clock winding under six minutes.

The backup quarterback, Tate Forcier, took the ball at his 20 and led Michigan on a tying touchdown drive. The Wolverines won the game in triple overtime.

"Unfortunately, I'm not given that opportunity to run through it and see what's going to happen," Zook said Sunday. "I would have done it.

"That still doesn't guarantee you're going to make it. You take the information that you have and you make the decision."

Zook was talking to defensive coordinator Vic Koenning on third down and turned to Paul Petrino on fourth down. He sought input.

"Ultimately, the decision's mine," Zook said. "I made the decision that I thought gave us the best opportunity to win."

Once in overtime, Zook said he considered going for a two-point conversion and the win after the first session.

"Particularly being at their place," Zook said. "Once again though, I don't have those decisions to do over again."

Turning defensive

After the worst day of defense this season, Illinois tumbled in the national rankings. Michigan's 676-yard game dropped the Illini from 15th to 43rd in total defense. Michigan's 67 points pushed Illinois from 12th to 47th in scoring defense.

"The defense has proven that it can play good defense," Zook said. "Obviously, we didn't play very good (Saturday). Sometimes, it's hard to play at the level you need to play at. We might have been thinking a little bit too much. We had a lot of respect for their offense."

The Wolverines opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Denard Robinson to Roy Roundtree. Zook said he hoped that play would work to his team's advantage.

"I'll be honest with you, when that happened I thought we were going to win the game," Zook said. "I've had it happen to me on more than one occasion. Usually when that happens, the other side relaxes a little bit and they think, 'Oh, this is going to be easy.' "

Zook said his players are "embarrassed a little bit, they're hurt."

Petrino made sure the offensive players knew that the blame didn't fall solely on the defense.

Senioritis

Zook's second full recruiting class will play its final home game Saturday.

"It's a sad thing," Zook said. "It goes so fast. I feel pretty confident these guys will be revved up and ready to go. They know the importance of this game and they know it's a game we've got to go and play the way we're capable of playing."

Praising Paterno

Zook congratulated Penn State's Joe Paterno, who won his 400th game Saturday against Northwestern.

"I'm happy for Coach Paterno," Zook said. "I'm glad we weren't one of them this year."

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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Bear8287 wrote on November 08, 2010 at 12:11 am

I hope the fans back the coaches (and the players) here. At no time did I feel that any one gave up.

I also find it hard to fault Coach Zook for going with the odds on the 4th down play.

Everyone has been excited (and rightfully so) about the way the defense has played this year up until this game. It's this staff's first year together and I look forward to seeing how the Illini defense will play Michigan next year. The progress this season on offense has been impressive and I really like hearing that Petrino didn't just let the blame fall on the defense. Games are won and lost as a team and once the players start believing in each other, they'll go far.

If the team stays focused and uses this loss as motivation to go out and play hard every game the rest of this season, there's still a possibility of finishing 9-4 and that would be exceptional after last year's 3-9 finish.

Go Illini!

kfj wrote on November 08, 2010 at 7:11 am

I agree and GO ILLINI!

PeoriaIllini wrote on November 08, 2010 at 9:11 am

Agreed. The season still has a lot of promise. I thought the offense played well, and while it is lost in the stats we had a lot of takeaways as a defense. I think the loss is something you build on, and not dwell on.

MichiganIllini wrote on November 08, 2010 at 9:11 am

It's always easy to look back and say, "Why didn't we?" Back in 2007, if going for it on 4th down against Ohio St. hadn't worked, everybody would have questioned the call. We all know the defense is capable of playing better. Too bad they picked Saturday to have an off day. And I don't know what it is about Michigan - they can pull a rabbit out of the hat at the end of a game. They've done it against MSU, against Iowa, and I remember a game a few years back where Virginia was ahead of them something like 17-0 late in the game, and U-M came back and won. And spare me please - on some of the message boards up here some U-M fans are already talking about how this means "they're back" and ready to contend for a national championship next year. Seriously.

Griz wrote on November 08, 2010 at 10:11 am

Although the Illini Defense wan't ready to play on Saturday, let's not forget that this year's Michigan offense is the best in the Big 10 by far. Even before Saturday's game, they were averaging something like 35 points a game. They are a mediocre team because their defense sucks a rock EVERY Saturday. The Illini are the better team. Losing like this in the Big House proves nothing: if these teams played against each other again three more times, I believe Illinois would win all three -- especially back in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium.

kfj wrote on November 08, 2010 at 7:11 pm

News about Western PA H.S. football:

WPIAL releases sites for football quarterfinals

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By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Monday, November 8, 2010

Last updated: 2:25 pm

Two of the WPIAL's legendary figures, Upper St. Clair's Jim Render and North Hills' Jack McCurry, will see their football teams meet Friday night at Chartiers Valley in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAA football playoffs.

The WPIAL posted sites and times today.

The two coaches combined have more than 600 victories. Render stands first on the league's all-time wins list with 343. McCurry holds third place with 270.

All games begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Class AAAA

Central Catholic (10-0) vs. Gateway (6-4) at Plum

North Allegheny (9-1) vs. Bethel Park (5-5) at Pine-Richland

Mt. Lebanon (10-0) vs. Woodland Hills (7-3) at Baldwin

North Hills (9-1) vs. Upper St. Clair (8-2) at Chartiers Valley

Class AAA

Montour (10-0) vs. Indiana (8-2) at Butler

Mars (9-1) vs. West Allegheny (7-3) at North Allegheny

Thomas Jefferson (9-1) vs. Hopewell (6-4) at Canon-McMillan

Knoch (9-1) vs. Central Valley (7-3) at New Castle

Class AA

Aliquippa (10-0) vs. Beaver (8-2) at Ambridge

Ford City (10-0) vs. Seton-La Salle (9-1) at Valley

Beaver Falls (9-1) vs. Keystone Oaks (7-3) at Moon

South Fayette (10-0) vs. Freeport (7-3) at Seneca Valley

Class A

Clairton (10-0) vs. Bishop Canevin (9-1) at Elizabeth Forward

Monessen (9-1) vs. Springdale (9-1) at Penn-Trafford

Rochester (10-0) vs. Beth-Center (8-2) at Peters Township

Avonworth (9-1) vs. North Catholic (7-3) at Fox Chapel