Posts tagged ‘Illinois Fighting Illini’

October 6, 2011

Lou Henson vs. Bobby Knight?? Time for the Zook – Wilson era.

Written Ramblings by JB

Future Prediction – The Illini are going to be six and zero to start the season. Yes, this is a total dismissal of Indiana’s football program (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten) but the odds seem to be overwhelmingly in Illinois favor come Saturday.  Taking this into consideration;  Illinois (19 in the AP and 16 in the coaches) seems to be off to one of their best starts in decades, and a victory this weekend should only push them up further in the rankings.

What do we know about this team though?  Illinois defense is reminiscent of their in-state professional counterparts. They allow very few points off of turn-overs and they seem to come up with spectacular plays to change the fate of the game.

The offense is a different story.  The win against Arizona State showed the nation a team with grit and determination, but Illinois has looked inconsistent against Western Michigan and Northwestern.  The Illini beat a good Broncos team on what seemed to be sheer athleticism alone. They hammered home the run game until it seemed to wear down the Broncos by sheer attrition. It was however, another story against Northwestern.  Last year’s Big 10 leaders in rushing struggled to get their offensive core philosophy going.  Nathan Scheelhasse made an uncharacteristically bad decision in the red-zone causing a 14 point swing and his elusive counterpart, Dan Persa, showed the effectiveness of a healthy Northwestern squad.

What we can draw from two wins in a row with a total of six points as a margin of victory is that the Illini could very easily be 3-2 and not 5-0 heading into Hoosier territory. While their defense is arguably at the top of the Big 10; we’ve seen inconsistencies on the offensive side of the game. Big plays to AJ Jenkins and break-out runs by Pollard and Young will win against the MAC and hampered Big 10 teams (Northwestern is very legit with a healthy Persa).  But this will not hold up against the likes of Wisconsin (who is scary good), Michigan or Ohio State.

Illinois cannot overlook Indiana, but it does need to look forward and re-focus on being a disciplined team by taking fewer penalties in addition to converting red-zone possessions into touchdowns. They have, at times, seemingly unstoppable combinations on offense and a very good pass rushing core. Western Michigan and Northwestern have seem to have found some exploitations on both ends of the ball.  Indiana should prove to be a good testing ground for their coaching staff’s mid-week adjustments.  If all goes well they should have some good things cooked up for the Buckeyes in Champaign in two weeks.  If not, it’ll be another minor bowl for the Orange and Blue.