Bret Bielema praises Rutgers for win: ‘They made plays’

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In the days leading up to his team’s game against Rutgers, there was lots of positive talk from Illinois head coach Bret Bielema about his opposition. It was more than the generic coach-speak from a press conference but some actual, thorough respect from Bielema towards Rutgers and head coach Greg Schiano.

And after his team’s 20-14 loss on Saturday to Rutgers, Bielema again complimented the play of Rutgers. Like Schiano is with Rutgers, Bielema is in a rebuild with Illinois. He pointed towards optimism within his program while providing an accurate picture of Rutgers strong second-half showing in the win.

But unlike other coaches in college football, Bielema gave credit to the opposition for what they did well against his team.

“Keep plugging away, it is a challenge I really enjoy, I think our staff embraces it. It’s not one that we love the results of it,” Bielema told reporters after the game when asked about the loss.

“We get everything in this program by what you put into it and what you earn and nobody is going to give you anything in this league. I echoed it all week, this was a [Rutgers] team that won three games, lost four but had been in every ball game and competed in every game. I could see it on film, the way they had fought. The more we stayed in the game here, I knew it was going to turn into this type of ball game down the stretch.”

Bielema also brought up his play call to flip to Chase Brown on fourth down late in the game, a play that Rutgers safety Kessawn Abraham snuffed out for a loss to clinch the Rutgers win.

“I did like the way they responded. Obviously the fourth and a yard there, we went with a little belly-flip play to Chase and they took two off the edge and made it happen, right?” Bielema said.

“They capitalized on a critical moment. They made plays. I think they were three-for-three on fourth downs. We weren’t able to get off the field there on fourth down and that was a big play in the game as well.”