While beat writer MATT DANIELS wondered Saturday night if Will Middlebrooks made a better tackle attempt than any Illinois defenders in the second half against Michigan State, here are three items he picked up on.
The units Illinois has on defense weren’t cohesive against the Spartans after halftime. Not along the defensive line. Or in the linebacking corps. Or within the secondary At all. If Illinois can’t get its act right on defense, it’s not a stretch to say Illinois might not win another game this year. Even against Purdue.
“To me, I feel like we were very positive in the locker room at halftime,” linebacker Mason Monheim said. “We felt like the scores that (Michigan State) had, we had many times where we could have made plays and gotten off the field. We were confident in our abilities, and unfortunately, we didn’t carry that over.”
Monheim led the Illinois defense with 14 tackles Saturday. But the sophomore won’t remember those numbers when he reflects back on the season, nor did he focus on them after Saturday’s game. The only item he is concerned about is enjoying a Big Ten win. Something Monheim and other Class of 2012 and Class of 2013 recruits who decided on Illinois have never experienced.
“We didn’t come out to play in the second half,” he said. “I don’t know (why). Going through last year, we’ve definitely had experience feeling this adversity. We didn’t work to lose. We didn’t work to have a year like last year.”
Gotta love what Baylor is doing with its offense this year. If you can’t make a trip to catch a game in Waco, Texas, to watch Art Briles’ system, make a jaunt down to Charleston. Eastern Illinois and Dino Babers’ Panthers are putting up the same type of numbers.
Baylor will rest up its nation-best offense this weekend with a bye. Don’t think anyone will pass the unbeaten Bears, who are averaging 63.9 points per game. On a football field. Playing against other football teams.
But now the real grind arrives for Baylor, which has feasted on opponents that are a combined 24-29. Its final five games are against teams with a combined 28-10 record. Get ready for the national spotlight, Baylor. It’s coming your way along with defenses ready to make a name for themselves.
If only Dennis Erickson, Gino Torretta, Bobby Bowden and Charlie Ward could work their magic again. Throw in Luther Campbell and his entourage on the sidelines, and Keith Jackson calling the game up in the press box. Then the national game of the week featuring Florida State and Miami would really feel like the good ol’ days.
Even if those notorious names won’t roam Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday night in Tallahassee, Fla., it’s good to see the game means something again. Two powerhouse teams that both struggled to reclaim the glory of their early 1990s matchups are back near the top of the college football world.
Plenty is on the line when the two unbeaten teams meet, namely a chance to stay in the BCS title race. Florida State and dynamic, young quarterback Jameis Winston enter as favorites, especially after Al Golden’s squad barely staved off Wake Forest.
Please do us one favor, though. Don’t let the game come down to a kicker deciding the outcome. Please.