Head Coach Steve Sarkisian
Opening statement:"Really proud of our team and getting a big road win for us, a non-conference win, against a good football team. Illinois is well-coached with good players, good team. They competed really hard. I thought our team showed a lot of grit, fighting through some of the adversity we had tonight and continued to make plays offensively. We found a way to get a couple stops here defensively late. I thought that our defense was playing really well. I thought one of the key plays of the game was the big post-touchdown pass there to Lankford when I felt like maybe we had a chance to put them away and they fought back. It was a good job by our guys closing the ball game out late. All in all, it's a great win for us to come on the road, halfway across the country, and get a good non-conference win."
On the difference between this game and Washington's game versus Boise:"We had a lot of long fields again. I felt like we were starting backed up quite a bit. Then, we were stubbing ourselves in the foot. We were shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties that we can fix that kept pushing us back. We would get big chunks of yards and then go backwards again. It was like two steps forward and one step back. I think we can clean that up, the couple of holdings and the penalty Jaydon (Mickens) had was an effort play, but he hit the guy late. I think that was part of it and in the second half, we just ran the football better. I thought our conditioning showed again. Our guys were in great shape and they played hard. I thought Bishop Sankey was a warrior again tonight. It was great for Jesse Callier to step up. It's unfortunate Dwayne (Washington) had his two fumbles. Those were tough fumbles to take for him. He's going to be a good player for us in the future. We'll get that cleaned up, but it's good to have 24 back running around."
On the third-down throwback screen:
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"We were just trying to get a good look and obviously, we got it. They had a blitz coming and we were able to slip Jesse (Callier) out the back door and the guys executed well. The O-lineman got down field and made their blocks and we made our play."
On how the team was affected about being on the road:"I thought we were good. This was a little bit of a different road trip because we went two days in advance with the distance and the time change. I thought our team was focused and played hard and executed well. Again, the penalties were things that we need to fix, because that really had the impact on the game. We had the one penalty when I think we hit the quarterback in the head, which extended a drive which got them going, Again, we had a couple penalties offensively that hindered drives, so outside of that, the execution of the plan, I thought our guys played well.
On what happened to linebacker John Timu and what he thought of Timu's replacements:"Timu hurt his shoulder and he doesn't even know when. It was right before half and he just said, `You know, my shoulder hurts.' We're not real sure, so we'll have to get him checked out. I thought the guys did a fine job. I'll have to look at the film more extensively with (Thomas) Tutogi coming in and Princeton Fuimaono playing some in there. It felt fine until I look at the film."
Did you think Austin Seferian-Jenkins was rusty today?"A little bit. The pace that we operate is a pretty frantic one and (we had) 85 plays again tonight. We've just got to get him back in the fold, and I'm sure there was a lot on his mind and it was his first game, too. We thought about the first game last week for all of our other kids. Well, this was his first one, so there's things that he'll be able to take away from this game and improve upon for himself, which ultimately will make us a better team."
On using a smaller defensive line:"We did that quite a bit tonight. They were going to a bunch of four- and five-wide receiver sets, and we just felt like we needed to generate a pass rush, which we had talked about a couple weeks ago after the Boise game. And we were able to do it. I think we had four sacks in the first half. I'm not sure exactly what we ended up with on the night. All in all, I felt like we generated enough pressure. I think we can get better. I think when the guys see themselves on the film, they'll see more opportunities to rush the passer and utilize different moves."
On Jesse Callier:"It was good to have him back. You never know how your game is going to go when you're a role player like how Jesse is right now on our team. Dwayne (Washington) had his struggles a little bit holding onto the ball. We inserted Jesse and it was like he didn't skip a beat, obviously, with the long touchdown run. Sometimes what goes unnoticed is what Jesse does on special teams. He's a vital player."
Washington Player Quotes
DB Marcus Peters
On the team's season goals:"We need to stay focused and not let anything get to us, to make sure we keep that bond as a group and as a team. We need to move on and take that next-play mentality. Every week we know we're going to face a great opponent and we just need to focus and do what we need to do."
On finishing:"In practice coach puts us in those situations and tells us we have to finish. That's our main thing. We didn't finish last year in the last two games and every chance we get to finish off a team we just want to finish them off."
On playing at Soldier Field:"It was a great experience to us; you might not ever get to play in an NFL stadium. We got to play in the Seahawks' stadium last year but who knows if we're ever going to be able to come back to Soldier Field, play out here in Chicago and see the city."
DE Josh Shirley
On improvements:"In every department there should be improvement. The sky is the limit for this team. We just have to go back to the drawing board on Monday and then get back together and make some corrections next week."
On finishing:"We came together as a team and we had laser focus. Sometimes, in the past, we let our guard down at the end. This time we came together as a team and finished every play."
TB Bishop Sankey
On finishing:"It is something that we preached all offseason and through camp, continuing to finish. I think we did a good job, digging deep down the stretch and we finished. We knew we just had to take it upon ourselves and fix the things that we needed to fix and just finish."
On looking forward:"As a team and as a running back corps and me personally, we are all just thinking about moving forward and on to the next game and constantly getting better. We can't get complacent and that is something that we preach in the program."
Head Coach Tim Beckman
Opening statement:"Well I'll start off with saying I was proud of the way the team competed for four quarters. We played a very, very good football team - you can see Coach Sarks (Sarkisian) has Washington in the direction he would like them to head. They're a very good football team as I said before. We just didn't make plays when we needed to make plays. We left some points out there on the football field and in the football game with a missed field goal and opportunities really towards the red zone and a couple sacks took us out of some situations that we could have put points on the board. Defensively we just did not slow them down. I saw tackling was the major concern in the third and fourth quarter as well as what you saw. We have to tackle better when we're playing a team that is a top-25 football team. But as I sum it up before questions I want to first give credit to Coach Sarks (Sarkisian) and Washington because they're a fine football team. He's done a great job building that program into something that he really wants it to be and you can see how his players played in that brand of offense. He just beat a very good football team in Boise State two weeks ago and I think our players came out knowing that they had a chance to win this football game and they fought to the end."
On concerns on defense:"Well, I think that we have played some pretty good offense but we have to tackle better. I mean I haven't watched the film yet, but of course we can all see that we didn't tackle very well. We gave up a couple big pass plays the first half with mis-reads and we're young. I think our kids are playing hard but we have to be able to tackle better and we have to be able to make plays."
On coming out in the third quarter ready to play:"That's something we have addressed with this football team. We haven't come out in the third quarter and played really this year and again, it's something that we've worked on - you practice running into the locker room and coming out, re-teaching it all - but it's something we've got to get better at doing. Again, it's that third quarter that's really not been our quarter. I would say that every other quarter we've played extremely well, except for that third quarter."
On the secondary and if they will progress:"Sure. I believe in this football team, I believe in our football players, and I believe in our coaching staff. You can see the strides that we have made on offense and defensively we've got a lot of new faces out there. It's not much different than the team we played three years ago (at Toledo). You're going to see a bunch of freshmen out there playing, or sophomores that were not red-shirted so we're going to have to continue to get better. We're only two-deep at the defensive interior line right now. So we're going to play guys and those guys have got to get ready to play."
On playing in Chicago:"It was a pleasure playing here. It was an experience for our football players that they will always remember. I think it's a great idea for us being here in Chicago. The fan support was excellent and it was really getting loud there in the fourth quarter so this football team was excited about playing at Soldier Field and it definitely was a blessing for us to be up here and have the opportunity to play. So thank you Chicago."
Illinois Player Quotes
QB Nathan Scheelhaase
On the Illini's level of optimism:"It's a long season ahead, so we should definitely be looking at the situation with a glass half-full mentality. We've got a bye week coming up and then our last non-conference test will be Miami of Ohio at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. We're excited about the opportunities ahead of us and also getting some rest on our bye week and allowing our bodies to recover."
On the missed offensive opportunities:"You saw last week with Cincinnati that we were able to put the pressure on them early, but today we felt like we left points out there in the first half. Then in the second half when we started putting points up, it was good to see positive results. We're a team that wants to put the pressure on early, put the pedal to the metal, and really force the other team to make adjustments."
WR Ryan Lankford
On his 72-yard TD reception and overall offensive performance:"It was a momentum swing for us - guys were really fired up after that and started to play like we had a chance to win this game. We never gave up and that was really positive to see out there. The main issue was that we left plays out there; we didn't capitalize on every play. If we would have, obviously we would've put more points up on the board. We're going to check the tape this week and go from there."
LB Jonathon Brown
On the defensive potential for the Illini this season:"One thing I'm proud of this team for is the way we fought. This situation could've turned south, but I was proud of the way the guys stood up and fought all the way to the end tonight. The team definitely showed heart and with a performance like that, we can find the things we need to improve on."
DB Earnest Thomas III
On the defense's tackling struggles:"The bottom line is that we just have to wrap up. The one thing that will help with that is everyone going to the ball on defense. It's definitely something that can be corrected and it will be a focus of our practices in the upcoming weeks. I don't think the pace of the game had anything to do with the tackling struggles, but I think our fundamentals just got out of whack at times in the game. We need to consistently focus on our fundamentals."