Sept. 28, 2008
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Q: You saw some adversity really for the first time this season in the first quarter, how do you think your team handled it?
A: I thought they did a really good job. They went down and then they came back and then went down. They hung in there and didn't lose their poise. I thought we played a good football game against a good football team. Obviously, it's a good win for us.
Q: Did you come into the second half thinking you had to give Evan Royster some more touches?
A: No. We just called what we thought would work at different times.
Q: Do you think this was Derrick Williams' best game at Penn State thus far?
A: This is really the first chance that he has had to break out. We had to go without Norwood; Jordan aggravated a hamstring on Tuesday and we thought he would be okay until Thursday. So, we went into the game with the idea that Derrick would have to play a little bit more. Not that Zug and the other guys couldn't do a good job, but Derrick has been in tough games and made big plays. In fact, I told him the other day that it's about time that he break out and have a real big game. He had a big day. He is a heck of an athlete and he is a heck of a competitor.
Q: How important is it for a team to get off to a 1-0 start in the Big Ten?
A: Oh, sure. It's better than being 0-5. I have been saying all along that I wouldn't know how good we were until we got into a tough football game; one with a little back and forth to it and that we couldn't do everything we wanted to. And, today, we had that kind of ball game. That is as important as the record because I think we can now play with a little more assurance.
Q: Coming into this game, did you think the biggest question about your team was how it would react to adversity?
A: You just never know for sure until you go into a game and some things happen to them. And we didn't have Norwood, so that bothered me. He is the third guy in there and gives you a lot of plays. But I have been worried about that. I will worry about it until we win another tough one.
Q: How serious is Norwood's injury?
A: I think he will alright this week.
Q: What did you to slow down Illinois' offense after it scored on the first couple of drives?
A: The crowd was so loud some of the kids couldn't hear the line up signals. So we changed things on the line, depending on how they line up, which most people do. We really had not had that problem yet this year, so that was part of it. And getting ready for the tempo. It's hard to get ready for the tempo. They are some awfully good athletes. That quarterback is a great athlete and a tough kid. And a couple of those guys can run. I think that was the hardest part; getting adjusted to that.
Q: How do you think Daryll Clark performed today in his first real test?
A: I thought he played very, very well.
Q: You have had some problems with fumbles recently, how did you feel about what happened in today's game related to that?
A: That bothers me. I thought there was some pretty tough hitting out there and Illinois does a good job of stripping the ball. In fact, against the Louisiana team, their linebacker, No. 44, stripped the ball and ran it for a touchdown. We had talked about it all week, but we have to protect the ball and can't put it on the ground so many times.
Q: Could you talk about the kickoff return by Derrick Williams and how important that was?
A: I think that was a big, big play. That put us up by two scores. I was kicking myself in the back side for not trying for the field goal at the end of the half, but I wasn't comfortable that it was worth the try. So when they went in and scored the touchdown, I was kicking myself more. But then we ran the kickoff back.
Q: How do you think Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma played after not playing for three games?
A: I couldn't tell you. I would have to look at the tapes.
Q: Could you talk about what it mean to survive a game like this on a weekend when six teams in the top 25 fell?
A: That is a problem you face all of the time, particularly when things have been easy for you and that was a little bit in the back of my head. We talk, talk, talk all of the time but sometimes it doesn't sink in. This is a good group of kids. I have said that many times. I really like this squad. I think they listen and they understand what it will be like and that it will not be easy. I think we are making good progress. I don't want to go overboard but we are getting close to being a really good football team.
Q: What does Andrew Quarless add to your offense?
A: Quarless, when he concentrates, is a good football player. I think he had a pretty good game today. In all fairness, Mickey Shuler was hurt most of the week with a pulled hamstring and an ankle problem that he got in the game a week ago. He hadn't really done anything until Thursday. Either one of those kids are good tight ends and both of them can help us.
Q: How were the two overturned replays explained to you?
A: I head the same thing you guys heard. The guy upstairs felt we wanted to get the proper ruling and the proper call. I have been the guy pushing for instant replay for 10 years, so I can't exactly gripe when they go to it. I obviously haven't seen the replay. I try not to look up at the scoreboard except to watch for the time. I couldn't tell you if the kid caught the ball in bounds. That's all part of the game.
Q: What do you like about this team?
A: They are a good bunch of kids to coach. They seem to have a good feeling for each other. I can clown around with them and have some fun with them and they don't go overboard. They listen. They are trying to make sure no one gets in trouble. It's good to see a bunch of kids have success with all of the junk going on around them.
#22 Evan Royster
Q: How does it feel to get the first Big Ten victory?
A: It feels great. We can't sit and dwell on it for too long, though. We've got to look forward to next week.
Q: How much TV did you watch today? When you started seeing some of the upsets that went on today, what went through your head?
A: It just shows that any team can be beat on any given day. You really have to prepare for every week and play hard every down of every game. That's the only way you are going to win.
Q: How hard was it to run on a wet field today?
A: It was pretty difficult. You probably saw that I slipped a couple of times. It's just something you've got to adjust to and take shorter steps and stuff.
Q: What was your reaction to pretty much being tested for the first time after playing four non-conference games?
A: I think it was a game that we really needed. It was tough coming from behind when we were down seven points early on. It was something we needed. To come from behind like that is something you really have to prepare for.
#18 Navorro Bowman
Q: How big was it when you guys had a stop there after the fumble and held them to a field goal?
A: Oh it was huge. We were up two touchdowns and they could have made a big play and kicked an onsides afterwards. So that fumble really helped us and really got the team going.
Q: What kind of a statement do you guys think you made tonight?
A: That we're hungry. We're not going to get complacent at all. We're still in the running for the Big Ten. That's our main goal. Ultimately we want the national championship. There were a lot of upsets today and luckily we weren't one of them.
Q: Do you guys deserve to be talked about in the national championship picture?
A: I don't know. That's up to you guys. We're just working hard and trying to be the best team that we can be. I mean, I don't know. Are we good enough?
Q: How elusive is Juice Williams and how were you able to contain him tonight?
A: Just by reading his eyes and knowing when he is going to pitch the ball. He's a good athlete and we watched him on a lot of film. He had two weeks to prepare for us and it looked like he had our number early in the game, but we made our adjustments and really got to him and slowed him down.
Q: A lot of people were wondering what this team would do in a tight scrap when you got down early in the game. What do you think you showed people?
A: That we can overcome adversity. That we are a team and we stick together. Going through spring and winter workouts, that's what you build. You build team camaraderie and a team that's going to work through tough times. We didn't look at one another and have our heads down. We knew we had to keep playing and the game would turn our way sooner or later.
Q: Do you guys think you were a little geared-up in the first drive?
A: No I think what happened was that our field position was not very good. We got the kick-off return on the 11, so we didn't want to get too crazy. Then we just didn't make the third down, which had nothing to do with not being geared up just tough field position.
Q: Daryll seemed to really settle down, how do you think he played?
A: Yea he did. A couple things, in the third quarter we probably got away with some things with Daryll, Derrick, and Royster, but we should have kept them going a little longer. But then we had the fumble, which caused some problems, so we didn't have the ball a lot in the third quarter. We got them back in the flow in the fourth quarter, which was key. I'll tell you one thing about Derrick, aside from all the things he did well with the ball, his blocking tonight was phenomenal. He made some blocks on some big linebackers.
Q: What does it mean to get a big game like that from Derrick?
A: He has been a guy that has made plays when we needed them over the past few years. It was good to get him going. We knew Jordan wasn't going to be there so we wanted to step up and give him a chance to do some things and put the ball in his hands. He did a great job and you can't argue with that.
Q: You guys seem to be playing really well, and this is a good time of year to do that...
A: Yeah, now we are in the Big Ten and every game is going to be a challenge. Next week we have Purdue, and they have a heck of a team especially at home.
Q: Were any of your guys gassed?
A: I was getting gassed just calling the calls. It was happening very fast. You know the tempo is fast and our guys did a real good job hanging in there. We tried to mix our base personnel with our nickel personnel, and then Scirrotto went down, so we were making adjustments the whole game.
Q: Have they [Illinois] lined up that quickly in the past?
A: They did it the whole game. I guess that was their plan to do that the whole game. That helps when you have a couple weeks off to prepare. They have done that before, they did it last year at temple. They have different tempos to their offense, different speeds. Tonight was all full-throttle speed.
91, Jared Odrick
Q: After Illinois drove down on that first drive and scored, what was the talking like in the huddle?
A: We knew a thing like that was going to happen. Our defense is like that. I feel that we always come out stronger in the second and third times that we face an offense. I think that needs to change, and we need to smack people in the mouths the first time we come out onto the field, but I think we handled it pretty well.
#2 Derrick Williams
Sr./Sr., Wide Receiver
Q: Talk about the kickoff return and how that felt.
A: When I was running (back the kickoff return), did you guys see how easy it was for me? The only thing I had to do was run. It was like there was a clear highway because the guys in front of me did a great job clearing the way, all I had to do was run through it.
Q: It's early in the season, but with all of the upsets this weekend in college football, do you guys feel like Penn State should be in the national title conversation?
A: We're not focused on that. Well, we are focused on that but I'm trying to be humble. We think every day about a national championship, and if we're not thinking about it then we shouldn't be playing this game. We definitely can do it with the team we have, but Joe always tells us to take it one day at a time, one game at a time.
Q: You guys have a tough four weeks ahead of you. How much better do you feel about that coming off a game like this where you were tested?
A: We feel great. Right now we're not worried about the next four games, we're worried about the next game against Purdue. They're a great team. On Monday when we go into our breakdowns, I know our coaches are going to have a great game plan and we just need to take it one day at a time.
Q: What kind of adjustments did you have to make with Jordan Norwood out?
A: Jordan is a great player and once we found out he wasn't playing, we came together and said that people had to step up. Graham Zug came in and did a great job and Daryll (Clark) stepped up and Deon, you can't say enough about him. He's a great receiver and he handled himself well today and did a great job.
Q: Did you see the USC game and what does it do for the team's confidence knowing how you handled Oregon State?
A: It shows that this college football game is a crazy thing. Anyone can beat you at any given time. Oregon State is a great team and they went up there and played with confidence.
Q: Talk about what the defense brings to the game this year and why that makes Penn State stand out from other teams.
A: We battle the defense every day in practice and that makes us better. It's good going against great guys. Penn State is known for its defense and now we're on top with the offense too and now it's just a balanced team so we should be great either way.
#3 Deon Butler
Gr./Sr., Wide Receiver
Q: Talk about the adjustments you had to make with Jordan Norwood out.
A: It just shows the versatility of the offense. Any day it can be any guy. People wanted Derrick to make the plays and hopefully today they were satisfied because he went out and played one heck of a game. Not just on offense, but on special teams too with his blocking. It's a testament to our offense with the depth and talent that we have. Obviously missing a player of Jordan's caliber is a big loss to this offense but Graham Zug stepped in and did a great job, so we didn't have to change that much around.
Q: You guys haven't had to rally from behind yet this year. Talk about how you think you did with that aspect.
A: I've said this before but we have so many seniors on this offense that no one really panics. We spotted Illinois a touchdown but we got a good feel for what they were going to do. Everyone stayed calm and it's just good that we have so many seniors. No one panicked, we just got it going.
Q: How was the crowd tonight?
A: It was just electric out there. We fed off of those guys. They made it tougher on (Illinois quarterback Juice) Williams and that helped us out. It's just great for our fans to be able to come out like this and support us in the way they did.
Q: Talk about Derrick (Williams) and why he was so successful tonight.
A: We just wanted to exploit the mismatches and we had Derrick on the linebackers and we hit them early. He's a phenomenal player and today's game speaks for itself. That's the kind of player he is, that he can have a breakout game at any time and if you don't pay attention to him, this is what's going to happen. Derrick was on fire today and could not be stopped. I'm glad he's my teammate.
Q: Talk about Daryll Clark's performance tonight.
A: He was phenomenal. He hit the open guys, he scrambled, he held onto the ball. He did a good job considering the crazy atmosphere and his first Big Ten game. I think as the season goes on he'll be calmer and more comfortable.
#43 Josh Hull
Q: Were you concerned in the beginning of the game when they began moving the ball quite well?
A: Not really. As long as we knew we would get after it and after it, we knew the offense was going to make some plays to help us out. That's the great thing about this team this year. You know if our defense gets in a bad situation our offense is going to provide some points. Next week the defense is going to have to start helping the offense out.
Q: Can you key on some key plays you made on defense in the fourth quarter? You had that one nice pass breakup.
A: It just goes back to the basis of playing zone defense. You just drop to your zone, reading the quarterback and breaking on the ball. We work on it every week in practice and Coach (Ron Vanderlinden) emphasizes that during the week.
Q: What kind of energy did this crowd give you guys?
A: The crowd was electric tonight. The crowd really helped us out.
Q: It seemed like the idea was to disrupt Juice Williams. Was that what your defensive game plan was?
A: We know that Juice (Willliams) is a great athlete and we knew he was going to make some great plays. We just had to minimize the big plays that he made. They did get some decent ones on us. But overall I think we played pretty well.
Q: Were you expecting a lot of option?
A: Yes. During the week we really examined the option play that they were going to run at us. First half, they didn't run as much option as we expected them to.
#17 Darryl Clark
Q: Did it take you a while to get into a game like that?
A: No. Absolutely not. We realized how big this game was going to be and the hype that was all around it. Waking up this morning I knew something good was going to come out today. And it sure did.
Q: What was running through your mind at the last snap?
A: We won. We won. It's our first Big Ten win. It was a hard fought game. Illinois came in here with an intent to win. They fought hard. They didn't quit. We were able to execute in the end and stretch it out a little bit. I'm just proud of the guys with everything they did today.
Q: How big was it to get this win without Jordan Norwood?
A: It was big. It allowed other people to step up. I think Derrick Williams did a great, great job today. His kick return was a huge confidence booster for the team. He got a load of catches today. The offensive line was great as well. Royster and our running backs were pretty patient. Despite all of that, we still got to limit turnovers. We put the ball on the ground way too much. We have to get rid of that, we have to.
Q: What was your view of (Derrick) Williams' kick return from the sideline?
A: It was a game-breaker. We needed it. Illinois just had a really big play, (Arrelious) Benn made a nice catch, Juice (Williams) threw a nice ball, and they were within one touchdown. His return was huge for us. It gave us a little breathing room.
Q: Did you feel any pressure when Illinois' offense came out and was hitting on all cylinders?
A: No, because coach Joe (Paterno) had told us all week that it was going to be a slugfest. Those guys were not just going to roll over because they were in the "Whitehouse." We expected that. Obviously you want to come out and put points on the board, and we weren't able to do that. But we remained patient and things worked out for us.
Illinois Head Coach
Q: Talk about mistakes costing you. (penalties and turnovers)
A: I think when you give up the ball on offense obviously against a good defense, it's tough. We moved the ball at times very well, and as I said we get behind the chains sometimes with a penalty here and a penalty there, then it's a struggle. Defensively at times, I thought we played extremely well, particularly early. But they got a good offense. We just gotta keep playing. The thing I think that as we go back and look at this game, we're gonna see with the momentum swings. When you're playing on the road, there are going to be momentum swings and you're going to have to withstand the onslaught, and I thought for the most part our guys did that. They didn't quit. They kept coming back, and they kept doing the things they had to do. You can't have the major things happen like with the kickoff return, and I'm still at a loss for that one."
Q: Did you guys work on something like the 4th and 2 this week?
A: Well, we worked on it. When I saw the spot, I thought the spot was a lot closer than what it turned out to be. When you're going fast like that, you don't have a chance to change your mind. I mean I could have called timeout there, and it didn't work. Hindsite is 20-20. They got three points out of it. Defense came to a couple times and did a nice job to hold them to three points.
They only got three points on the fumble. Once again, we can't turn the ball over on offense. Against a good team, it's hard."
Q: Did you like your energy at the beginning? They seemed ready to play.
A: Like I tell the guys, you're not going to play a game of that caliber on emotion. Obviously, you're going to come out and have your jazz level up and all that. But football is a 60 minute game, and you have to be able to play 60 minutes. You gotta understand that the momentum and so forth is going to change up and down. You have to be able to withstand the onslaught."
Q: Did you see that Penn State is a contender?
A: Well they are a good football team. I don't think there's any question. They are good offensively, they are good defensively, and they are good on special teams. Their quarterback just continues to get better. They've got threats. They got weapons on offense, and of course their defensive front is really, really good. Yeah, there's no reason why they can't be as good as anybody else. It's like I just told our football team, we've been beat by two pretty good teams. All of our goals are in tact. I can't stand to lose, and I don't want them to be satisfied. It's supposed to eat your guts out. But we'll go back to work. This is a great group of kids. They want to win. We'll keep pounding.
Q: Talk about the defense. Are you concerned about giving up big chunks of yardage?
A: It's something we've got to get corrected. If you are going to play in this league, you've got to be able to stop the offenses, or at least slow them down. I thought at times we did play pretty well. Other than a couple new formations in the first half, it was pretty much what we had seen and expected. They just made some plays and we didn't.
Q: What do you say to the guys?
A: First of all, they are hurt right now. As I said, you want them to be hurt. I'm hurt. I won't sleep tonight. But I think you go back to work. They shouldn't hang their heads. (Penn State) is a good football team. We've been beaten by two good football teams. I think the one thing that everybody wanted to see was, 'Guys, where is the emotion.' I think they saw that tonight. I think that they saw that we can turn the wick up and stay there. But we've got to play 60 minutes. We've got to correct the little things. You can't turn the ball over. You can't get behind the chains. You can't give up big plays, and obviously you've got to be sound in the kicking game. We get those three things corrected, then we're going to be pretty good.
Q: Did you think you would come out and score so early?
A: It's a great atmosphere. It's something that you love to play in. An atmosphere like that, I mean that's what's exciting. The fans were into it. It was loud. Our guys were into it. We're a pretty good football team. Everybody wants to go back to the Rose Bowl. I want to go back to the Rose Bowl. But we're still a young football team. We're learning and growing, and I think we have to keep that in mind. I've said it all year is that we're not there yet. But we'll learn. We'll continue to improve. I don't know if for some crazy reason, I have a good feeling if that's possible. I don't know what the word is. We're going to be fine. We just have to keep playing.
Q: You said you were pulling your hair out with Derrick Williams running the kick back?
A: They run the same return right or left all of the time. We had it pretty well zeroed in on what we were going to do. What happened was the kick was a really good kick because it took time and gave us time to get down there. But we slowed down to look and see what was happening. They tell you where the return is going, and we didn't go make the play. We got some guys that jumped out of there gaps. I don't know exactly.
#60 Ryan McDonald
Q: What do you take away from this game?
A: Everyone is hurt by this one. I think there are things we can take away from it. We played with a lot more energy. We saw that when we get things rolling, we can move the ball. We hurt ourselves a couple times, and they took advantage of it. Give them credit. We know that we can play better.
Q: Was Penn State able to dodge a few bullets with the fumble being overturned, etc.?
A: Any big game like this, you have to be able to roll with the punches. It helps out their cause, but we should still be able to adapt to what happens and rebound from any mistakes we made, and we didn't at the time.
Q: How was this atmosphere for you?
A: I don't think we had too much of a problem with it. It was loud, but I think good teams, no matter who they are cheering for, feed off the energy of the crowd. I felt good about it. It's a loud place to play, but it's a great stage to play on. I don't think that was the determining factor; it was just us making mistakes.
#44 Brit Miller
Q: What do you take away from this game?
A: We just lost today. Coach said, "Half the teams that played today lost." We just happened to be in that half. I think we played a decent, clean game. We just need to be better at what we do.
#9 Arrelious Benn
So., Wide Reciever
Q: What's going through your mind right now?
A: I had a good game personally, but that doesn't matter. That can go down the drain because we didn't come away with a win. All that matters is if we win.
Q: During the second touchdown, did you get the wind knocked out of you?
A: No, I just got my helmet pushed into my forehead and I got dizzy.
Q: Is playing catch-up a hard way to play a football game?
A: Playing in a hostile environment like Penn State...it's a great environment. I feel as though we lost the game from penalties, fumbles, and interceptions that we caused. We lost the game ourselves with petty mistakes.
Q: That was a really quick start for this team. How good of a feeling did you have?
A: In the beginning of the game, we had all the momentum. I thought we got the ball back from the fumble in our red zone. We just tried to keep capitalizing on it, and somehow they stole the momentum and kept it.
#7 Juice Williams
Q: What was the difference between the first quarter momentum and the end of the game for Illinois?
A: We can't beat ourselves, and that's exactly what we did. Coach always talks about margin of error.