Penn State Football

What Illinois coach Lovie Smith said about Trace McSorley, Penn State’s defensive line

Trace McSorley and the Nittany Lions face Illinois at 9 p.m. Friday.
Trace McSorley and the Nittany Lions face Illinois at 9 p.m. Friday.

Illinois coach Lovie Smith joined the media for a Monday afternoon press conference and previewed Friday night’s 9 p.m. matchup against No. 10 Penn State.

Smith mostly addressed his squad, which is 2-1 on the year after falling to South Florida 25-19 this past weekend. But the former Chicago Bears head coach briefly touched on the Nittany Lions.

on Penn State’s defensive front...

Lovie Smith: We talk about our explosive plays, (Illinois’ offensive linemen) know where it starts, and they know how big of a part they’ve had in it. They’re young players who are getting better and better each week. It’s going to be a big challenge for them this week. We’ve played some good teams, but this is the best team we’ll play. And I know our offensive line is looking forward to that challenge. ...It starts up front. Athletic, size, all of that.

on Trace McSorley and Penn State’s skill players...

Lovie Smith: You start talking about their strengths and their program, how about we start with their quarterback, McSorley. Heck of a player. He’s mobile. He’s accurate throwing the ball. He’s a good athlete. Plays with a defensive mentality. Running game wise, (Saquon) Barkley isn’t there anymore. But their stable of running backs are good. Wideouts, line, you can go down the list. They have good players at most of their positions.

on being 26-point underdogs...

Lovie Smith: These are the kind of games, with where we are in our program, we look forward to this challenge. When you play an opponent like this, you want to play them at home. We’re going to show up excited about seeing exactly how much improvement we can make and how we come back from adversity. Normally that sends you one way or the other.