Our take from Saturday's Orange and Blue game at Memorial Stadium:
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
Michael Buchanan picked up where Whitney Mercilus left off in 2011, recording 4.5 sacks and spending the bulk of the day bothering the Blue quarterbacks. Buchanan had the most overlooked 6.5 sacks in school history last season because of Mercilus. Now, he will be the one trying to win the Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end.
With Donovonn Young missing a chunk of the spring (injury), redshirt freshman Josh Ferguson has taken advantage. He gained 150 yards Saturday, including a 68-yard burst. It took the fastest guy on the team, Justin Green, to chase him down. Ferguson earned the most improved offensive player for the spring and will battle Young for playing time in the fall.
The coaches promised Miles Osei and Terry Hawthorne would play multiple positions. Osei hit 8 of 12 passes for 115 yards, ran seven times and caught four passes. Besides recording five tackles at cornerback, Hawthorne scored the lone Blue TD on a 29-yard pass from Reilly O'Toole. Hawthorne will be on both sides of the ball in 2012.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
Actually, Derek was at the stadium Saturday, but not on the field. And you could tell when the Illini tried field goals. Three players made four three-pointers. But they missed three and clanked an extra point off the goal post. Ryan Frain will have a good chance to become the starter when he arrives on campus later in the spring.
No holds barred
The two lines gave up a combined nine sacks. Sure, the starters were split between teams, cutting into cohesiveness. But there were still too many open runs at the quarterbacks by the defensive ends and tackles. If it doesn't get tightened up by the time the season starts, the Illini are going to have a major problem protecting the quarterbacks.
Weather or not
Did the rain and cooler temperatures limit the crowd to the listed 3,000? Or would that have been the number regardless? Rain forced most of the fans under the East stadium overhang. And it didn't help the play on the field. Passes were dropped. Balls were fumbled. Kicks were missed.