The Illini fought hard, but in the end, it wasn't enough as they fell 38-24 to a Penn State team that is now my pick to win the Big Ten. There were a number of good things in this game, and there were also a number of head scratching moments. Unfortunately, there were too many head scratching moments to overcome.
Offense gets a C+ - Glad to see overall that they ran the offense they used against EIU, and for the most part it seemed to work. The problem was we stopped doing it as the game went along. Daniel Dufrane had 81 yards rushing on nine carries, and then went all David Copperfield on us and disappeared. Why did we stop going to him? Also, that 4th and 2 where Juice no huddled and ran a QB sneak and was stuffed, what the heck was that. A QB sneak is a play designed to get inches, and he was trying to get six feet. If you must go for it on 4th down, set up a play, don't wing it on a play that had absolutely no one fooled. Another bad thing is Arrelious Benn might not play football at Illinois for four years. He is unbelievable.
Defence gets a C- - Eh, I don't know. Momentum is such a huge part of football, and you have to be able to keep it after you get it. We were unable to do that. A buddy of mine said it best. Our defense looked like wet toilet paper. Granted, Penn State is pretty good, so you are going to allow some big plays, but I was amazed how open those Nittnany Lion recievers were. It is one thing to be open on a screen pass or something, but these guys were playing pitch and catch 20 yards down the field. Got to get better at this. It would also be nice to create some more turnovers.
Special Teams gets an F - speaking of losing momentum, are we going to give up a kick return TD every game? It sure seems like it. Even if it isn't returned all the way, the opposing offense always seems to have better field position than us because of long returns. Yeah, Matt Eller made a field goal, but he missed his first attempt from just beyond chip shot range.
I guess we looked better overall (you might not be able to tell based on my thoughts), but still not at a level that I thought they would be. Michigan is next week, and they just knocked off #9 Wisconsin, so we will have to be ready for that one, or we will be looking at a dot com bowl game.
BTW, Ron Zook chatted with Stevie Jay this morning on News Talk 1400 WDWS. Here are some highlights of the chat.
- Thoughts on the Penn State game
- So what did happen on that crazy 4th and 2 play?
- Iffy kick return coverage