Illinois Player Quotes

January 2, 2023

ReliaQuest Bowl Post-Game Quotes

OL Alex Palczewski

On what he will remember about this season

"You know I'm just proud of how these guys fought. Throughout 6 years, there's always a point of the season where something happens and in seasons past we've kind of reacted differently but this way the way that this team has responded it's truly been something special. Just the brotherhood of guys just not settling for average and always pushing each other is probably the biggest thing and just the friendships and the people and the bonds that we have it's truly something special."

On what Illinois can learn from its five single-digit losses this season

"It's tough, five losses all by one score. We have to learn how to finish, learn how to fight through adversity, and executing what we are capable of. That's the frustrating thing but something that they are going to learn how to do."

On what the Illinois offense is capable of being

"It's truly going to be something special. We have the right coaches in there - obviously, some of them have left - but Coach B (Head Coach Bret Bielema) is really a magician and just a great head coach. I trust him with my life and to make sure that this program is in good hands and I'm extremely excited to see what this program will do next year."

WR Isaiah Williams

On finishing the season with a loss and his view of the season overall

"I feel like of course it would've been great you wanna win every game it would've been great to end the season on a win but I feel like everything in the locker room going the right way and I feel like that's huge. Guys that's coming back you know we lost about 5 games and that in the offseason is something that's just going to be huge we teams and win them games that's our biggest thing to commit for next season just for me personally it was just a great opportunity you know to get some deep shots you know kind of just show what I can do you know more than just catch."

On Mississippi State's defense in the second half

"They wanted it more than us. Their guys just came with juice I feel like they didn't really do too much different. We really hurt ourselves on a lot of things too like plays we gotta capitalize missed blocks, penalties, holding, stuff like that I feel like that hurt us in the second half it really wasn't based on what they did but they did a great job."

On having one of his better days in a January bowl game

"I feel like it was great and then just to do it against an SEC opponent they got one of the best DBs in the nation had like 6 interceptions 3 pick sixes- just to go against them and show what I can do against some of the best in the nation I feel like it was huge for me."

On the wide receiver group remaining intact and preparing for next season

"I feel like next year we gotta be even better. There's gonna be a lot of competition and I'm gonna make sure the guys know that we gotta compete every single day gotta make each other better because next year we gonna have to come up huge when our name is called.

DB Matthew Bailey

On his goal line interception

"Yeah so um I was just breaking on the hitch man up I was man to man on the slot I was breaking on the hitch and then I just see the ball bet give me a free one catch the ones they throw you that's what Coach B says a lot"

On what he is looking for in the offseason strength and conditioning program

"Yeah I think all of the above obviously everyone wants to get faster stronger but for me I think I can get a little bit faster and then obviously being a freshman coming in just knowing more being more intelligent learning the game of football a little bit more I think all of those things will help my game.

LB Kenenna Odeluga

On what Illinois has done to take the step to play in a January bowl game and what is the next step

"The things that we have done is try to be consistent and be accountable to everyone; the players, the coaches, everyone. It starts with the culture, and we have built a culture that prides itself in everyone putting their best foot forward and giving it all they've got. And if you don't give it all that you've got, you probably won't be here. They don't like guys like that. The next step is just trying to be more consistent. More consistent with ourselves and more consistent with how we finish games. Our coach told us that all of the games we've lost have been one-score games and that shows us the progress we have made and how impactful we can be."

On what Coach (Defensive Coordinator Aaron) Henry did to command the room as his own and how it approached today's game

"Nothing in particular. Coach Henry is always going to be Coach Henry, he's still the same personality and still the same guy. He has the respect of the players so whatever he's doing he's been doing and it's nothing that he has to change.

DB Jartavius Martin

On what he feels that Illinois has accomplished over the last two years and what they can do to build on it

"When I first stepped on campus seeing the growth up until now, we are a completely different team. The only way to go is up."

On the game plan Coach (Defensive Coordinator Aaron) Henry put together for today

"He came out and executed extremely well and put us in a great position. He's a great coach and his future is bright."