Nov. 18—Illini defensive coordinator Aaron Henry provides perspective from his side of the ball before Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game at Kinnick Stadium against Iowa:
What were some of the issues in the secondary against Indiana?
"It was a combination of (mental errors) and guys not doing their job. Missed some key tackles. Just bad, bad football, man. Things we preach on and harp on. Going into the game, that was probably one of the smaller game plans I've ever had from a mental standpoint. It was all stuff we had been running and felt good with. Outside of the one-on-one catches — things like that happen, it's the game of football and they're on scholarship as well — but there was some things I can't live with in terms of mental errors and just flat-out busts.
"We got it corrected on Sunday. I call it 'Tell the truth Sunday.' You can be real and transparent with our guys. We have really good relationships. Some of those conversation were hard, but they were needed. It's good it happened to us and we won the game because it's a lot harder than losing."
How did Mac Resetich put himself in position to step in at safety?"Mac has done things in the course of the last couple weeks that make you scratch your head as a coach. He had a play in practice (last Thursday) where he rolled down into coverage, read the quarterback and picked the ball off with one hand. It was ridiculous. He had a play (last Wednesday) where he was tracking the quarterback and read his eyes and picked the ball off in the alley. He's just subtly continued to do things every week that you see flash. As a coach, it's hard to ignore that. I kind of singled him out. I said, 'Dude, your opportunity hasn't come yet on the defensive side of the ball, but it's going to come and I guarantee you're going to be ready.'
"It just so happened he got thrown into the fire (against Indiana). We had a couple of busts on the back end and a couple of egregious missed tackles, and I was trying to spark a fire under some guys. He just had his look in that eye. That same look he had when I went to recruit him and I watched him play basketball. The same look he had in high school. The same look he had when he was playing baseball. He was ready. I put him out there, and he didn't bat an eye."
What were your conversations with Taz Nicholson following his ejection against Indiana?"Obviously, Taz is a very, very passionate player. He plays a little on edge. That's what you love about him, but there are some things he just can't do. I had a conversation with Taz in detail. I won't go into the full discussion of that conversation, but at the end of the day it's not about Taz. It's about the team. When you're in those moments, Taz has to understand how that affects the whole team. We ended up winning the game, but it affected guys that happened to be on the field in the crunch time of that game when truthfully Taz would have been out there.
"He's learned from it. We just had to have a man-to-man, real conversations. He had his thoughts and what he knew he didn't do. The ref felt different. I can tell you this, we don't coach our guys to operate like that. That ain't how I do things. That ain't how nobody on our staff does things. Just know if I ever see a player do something of that caliber, he won't play for me because that's unacceptable."