Zook: `You just don't become a bad coach.'

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Sometimes it feels like piling on, but nobody else asked, so I had to ask Ron Zook at his Tuesday press conference about an offense that has been shut out in the first three quarters of its 17-7 loss to Ohio State and 21-14 loss to Purdue.How does a team that put up 79 points in its first two Big Ten games (vs. Northwestern and Indiana) manage only 21 fourth-quarter points in its next two games.“I don’t know that I can explain it,” Zook said Tuesday. “If I had the answer for that, we wouldn’t be shut out. Two things, defenses are playing pretty well, and we’re missing on some things. It’s not one thing, it’s a play here, a play there–a consistency thing we have to get back together.”After pausing, Zook continued with this:“You just don’t get bad. You just don’t become a bad coach. It just doesn’t happen. You work through those things. You make the tweaks you need to make and keep going.”Gloomy as it looks for the Illini, who have lost two ugly ones since opening 6-0, a win at Penn State Saturday would put them back on track for a pretty solid season.Unlikely as that may seem to some Illini skeptics, Penn State has issues offensively. And the Illini pulled off a 33-13 upset in Happy Valley a year ago.One big difference this time: It’s hard to imagine Penn State’s defense being as banged up as it was in that game. If the Illini can make good on Zook’s promise “to go out and play loose,” which has been a problem the last two weeks, they’ll give themselves a chance to find out what they can do.With the pressure mounting, though, that’ll be easier said than done.

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