Burning questions: Three Illini prep for Media Days

Burning questions: Three Illini prep for Media Days

Editor's note:  the WDWS sports crew will broadcast live from Big Ten football media days on Monday from 4 to 6 p.m.  Listen on 1400-AM or wdws.com.

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Simon Cvijanovic, Jon Davis and Austin Teitsma will feel the full brunt of Big Ten media coverage when the trio steps into the Chicago Hilton on Monday and Tuesday. Before the starting left tackle (Cvijanovic), starting defensive tackle (Teitsma) and starting tight end (Davis) for Illinois get ready for their close-up, beat writer Matt Daniels sat down with each player:

Simon Cvijanovic
Who would you like to interview?
I’d like to interview some of the guys from past winning teams here and see what they’ve done as seniors and as leaders to help them win. I know we’ve looked back at it and the team will do terrible one year and then go out and win a big bowl game. I want to see what the reason is for that.

Who would you like to interview you?
I’d like to be on the “Mike & Mike Show.” My dad graduated with Mike Golic from high school, and I got a book signed by them at a book signing about a week before I came out here for my freshman year. We talked for a little bit. They’re real cool guys.

What Illinois football player deserves more publicity?
For sure Clayton Fejedelem. He’s a really good player who works hard.

What’s one sight in Chicago you’d like to see?
I’ve been there a lot because my girlfriend is from Chicago. I’ve been to Millenium Park, but have never seen the Bean. I’ve never been to the top of the (Willis) Tower. I’ve been up at the Hancock Building at the Signature Room, but never to the (Willis) Tower.

What’s one question you don’t want to get asked in Chicago?
I don’t really want to hear about — which I know we’ll get questions about — is all the O-line coaches we’ve had. I know it’ll be a big topic, but I don’t think it matters, and I don’t think it will affect us that much.

How are you prepping for media days?
I need to go shopping for clothes. I haven’t gotten my hair cut yet, and I don’t think I will. I’ll style it. I was thinking about calling Corey (Lewis, who went last year) and seeing what were some of the hard questions he got.

Do you feel pressure to play in a bowl game this year?
Absolutely. I think everybody does. That’s our No. 1 obligation is to get at least six wins. That feels like it should be the minimum always. Because we’ve done so bad these last two years, I want to go out a winner. I want to win. Not just get to .500 or get to .500, a bowl game and then lose, but I want to be a winner when I leave. That’s my goal.

What’s one game you have circled this year?
Ohio State. That’s always a chip on my shoulder type of game. They didn’t want me, and I’m from Ohio. They walk around differently over there.

What was the hardest part of last year?
The hardest part about last year and the year before was doing so poorly in the conference. Knowing you put in all that work, just like we have this year, and there’s so many little things that we did wrong that are easy to fix, but you’re too late. Before you know it, you’re 2-10 or 4-8 and looking at another lost season after a lot of hard work. You’re not really sure what’s going to happen this season, but all you can do is work harder. That’s the hardest part about losing because you just don’t know if what I’m doing is right.

Do you think some of the criticism Tim Beckman receives is fair or unfair?
I think it’s fair. That’s what he signed up for. I know I wouldn’t want to be a head coach of a Big Ten football team and deal with all that stress all the time, but he’s doing a pretty good job of handling it. He’s done a real good job of keeping us on track and ignoring that negativity and criticism. I think it’s fair, but it’s also not relevant to us or this season.

Jon Davis
Who would you like to interview?

I’d definitely pick Dwyane Wade. He was my favorite athlete growing up. I just admire his work ethic and the way he goes to work.

Who would you like to interview you?
A young Illini fan. I know they look up to us. I just love kids and want to give back to them.

What Illinois football player deserves more publicity?
I know he’s an offensive lineman, but I’ve got to go with Teddy Karras. As offensive linemen, you only get recognition if you mess up. Teddy is basically going to be the heart and soul for us this year. He’s vocal, and is the leader we need on the offensive line.

What’s one sight in Chicago you’d like to see?
Honestly, I just want to see some pizza because evidently Chicago has better pizza than New York. I’m still not a believer of that. As far as sights, just a pizza place.

What’s one question you don’t want to get asked in Chicago?
What has been the problem for us the last two years?

How are you prepping for media days?
I haven’t. I’ve just been running through a couple things in my head. Honestly, this will probably be the most I’ll be talking in my life.

Do you feel pressure to play in a bowl game this year?
I don’t think we feel pressure. Guys on the team know that it is basically our time to do that. We feel like we’re ready. We’ve won two games and then four games, so the next step, at minimum, is a bowl. It’s not really pressure.

What’s one game you have circled this year?
Going back to Nebraska and also going to Washington. Those two should be fun with a different environment. It’s always fun to see new and old places.

What was the hardest part of last year?
I think we were right there. If we would have done a couple more little things on both sides of the ball, it would have been better. Offense needed to score more in the red zone and defense needed to get more stops on third downs. We were right there with Indiana and Penn State.

Do you think some of the criticism Tim Beckman receives is fair or unfair?
As a head football coach, you’re going to get criticized. He’s the one that is going to be taking the majority of the blame, but at the end of the day, it’s the players who are going out there on Saturdays. To say fair or not, I don’t know, but it’s just the way it is.

Austin Teitsma
Who would you like to interview?

Probably Julius Peppers because he is an animal on the D-line, and I’ve always wanted to be a Chicago Bear. He was a Chicago Bear. I’m still a fan. Once a Bear, always a Bear.

Who would you like to interview you?
Erin Andrews because she is beautiful.

What Illinois football player deserves more publicity?
Clayton Fejedelem because he’s just a fantastic football player. I think he’s going to be phenomenal this year.

What’s one sight in Chicago you’d like to see?
The Bean. It’s fun to go there with your friends and take pictures under it.

What’s one question you don’t want to get asked in Chicago?
Well, then they’re going to ask it, but ‘What is your greatest fear?’ It’s scary to tell people what freaks you out.

How are you prepping for media days?
Calming down and hanging with the friends. I haven’t had any advice yet. I’m a little bit nervous.

Do you feel pressure to play in a bowl game this year?
Not so much pressure, but we want to be in a bowl game. We think that we have the potential and the ability to be in one.

What’s one game you have circled this year?
I’m going to have to say Penn State because the game was so close last year. I just want to get another try at them.

What was the hardest part of last year?
It was getting so close in so many games and falling just short.

Do you think some of the criticism Tim Beckman receives is fair or unfair?
He’s part of our family, and I don’t think anyone in our family should be criticized. I think he’s a great coach, and I think that will show this year.

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