UFR: Uh-oh, Buckeyes are next

UFR: Uh-oh, Buckeyes are next

Football beat writer Bob Asmussen was back in the pressbox for Saturday's Indiana-Illinois game. His take:

First Impressions

— Indiana is better. Not “Going to a Bowl This Season” better. But better. Competitive. Excited. Interested. Will it lead to success for KEVIN WILSON in future seasons? Based on Indiana’s football past, probably not. But at least there is a feeling of change.

— Illinois is worse. Not “Never Going to a Bowl Again” worse. But worse. The bowl hopes end officially next Saturday in Columbus when URBAN MEYER names the score against Illinois. Given the way he has let his team play this season, the number might hit the 60s.

— Unless major improvement is made in the final month of the season, Illinois will enter 2013 with a 14-game Big Ten losing streak. And the opener next season is at Nebraska. Followed by Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State. The streak could easily hit 18.

— With a week off to rest, Illinois running backs DONOVONN YOUNG and JOSH FERGUSON appeared to have a bonus spring or two in their steps. They had more burst at the line of the scrimmage and were able to pull away from defenders. In a long season, you can’t overestimate the value of rest for weary running backs. Having their most complete set of offensive linemen helped, too.

— Illini linebacker JONATHAN BROWN showed the folks who pick the Butkus Award that they know what they are doing. The semifinalist led his team with 11 tackles, one better than freshman MASON MONHEIM.

— In the battle of alternate uniforms, give the advantage to Illinois. Decked out in
blue uniforms and its new blue helmets, Illinois won the color battle with all-white-wearing Indiana. Rumor has it that the Hoosiers haven’t been able to settle on a consistent uniform choice. How about those barber pants the basketball team wears?

— Not to dwell on the crowd, but it was slow arriving Saturday morning. Blame the chilly weather for part of it. And a 2-5 opponent. And the kickoff time (nobody really wants to watch football at 11 a.m.). The official attendance of 47,981 was the most for any Illinois home game this season.

Second guessing

— You have 43 seconds left in the half and the ball at Indiana’s 36. So, why would you punt? JUSTIN DuVERNOIS’ boot sailed into the end zone, netting 16 yards. Indiana ran out the remaining seconds. It would have made a whole lot more sense for Illinois to run a play against the defensively challenged Hoosiers and try to tie the game at intermission. The Illinois crowd voiced its unhappiness with the call, booing the decision. The fans were right.

— Indiana coach Wilson apparently didn’t like the first-half interception thrown by quarterback CAMERON COFFMAN. The wounded duck, picked off by STEVE HULL, was the last pass thrown by Coffman, who was replaced by freshman NATE SUDFELD.

— Where’s the pressure from the Illinois defense? Of course, WHITNEY MERCILUS was a major factor in 2011, but he had help. Indiana had 13 sacks going into Saturday’s game and was able to get to NATHAN SCHEELHAASE seven times. Illinois had three, giving it 12 for the season. Or just five more than the Hoosiers had on Saturday.

Third degree

— If you have to run farther than GREGOR BLANCO to catch a punt, you probably want to let it go. TOMMY DAVIS went a long way before dropping the ball near the Indiana sideline. The Hoosiers recovered, setting up their lead touchdown late in the first half. One of the most important aspects of special teams is making good decisions.

— Speaking of good decisions: don’t hit the quarterback after he goes out of bounds. Ever. JUSTIN STAPLES, a fifth-year senior who has to know better, kept an Indiana drive alive in the first half by hitting Indiana’s Sudfeld on the sidelines. The play was on a third down the Hoosiers failed to convert.

— Speaking of good decisions: don’t jump offside when an opponent is going for it on fourth and 1. GLENN FOSTER, a fifth-year senior who has to know better, kept an Indiana drive going by jumping into the backfield. Indiana scored later on the drive.

in the Stadium

— Former Illini quarterback JUICE WILLIAMS took a quick stroll through the press box at halftime. Williams is the school’s career total offense leader, a record that could someday be taken by Scheelhaase. Williams was wearing his No. 7 Illinois jersey.

— The Illinois men’s golf team was honored during a first-half break. THOMAS PIETERS, the 2012 NCAA champion, drew loud applause when he was introduced. Big Ten champion LUKE GUTHRIE wasn’t able to make it because he is playing in the Web.com Tour Championship this weekend in Dallas. Guthrie already has earned his PGA card for 2013.

— GENE HONDA was back as public address announcer Saturday after missing the Penn State game because of his duties with the Chicago White Sox. Honda wasn’t supposed to be here Saturday, but the NHL lockout freed him from his work with the Chicago Blackhawks.

— Mercilus, a Houston Texans rookie, and Quincy great JACK CORNELL, who is on the Ravens’ practice squad, took in the homecoming loss. Both of their NFL teams are off this weekend.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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BeT wrote on October 28, 2012 at 9:10 am

Disappointing day, for sure. But, on a positive note, it's good to have you back in the game, Bob! Glad you're feeling better.

Dan Bloeme wrote on October 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Illini sixth loss in a row is coming in Columbus Ohio against Buckeyes. Shades of last season's 6-game collapse that got Ron Zook fired. Beckman the Clown is not any better than Zook. Beckman and his clownish assistants have not improved this team in the least. This team looks much, much worse than last year. Illinois football has possibly sunk to a new all-time low, it feels that way.



Illini Drumline Guy wrote on October 28, 2012 at 8:10 pm



Welcome back

Hope you are well

Really enjoyed your work

Russ W

geriatricillini wrote on October 29, 2012 at 9:10 am

When a team averages just 9.5 points per league game in the first half the conference season and gives up 35.5 per game, it is really bad...we are now the bottom feeder in the league...Indiana removed any doubt about that for everyone..what's the saying..."the more things change...the more they stay the same"...looks like it's getting worse to me...will Ohio State break the 60 point mark? Will we score at all? 

If we could just muster up some guts and give someone a game, I would consider that an improvement...not roll over and die after some kind of adversity hits...we go into a shell after a bump in the road...the wheels come off and we stink up the place with mistakes and dumb plays..we need to suck it up and keep playing like it's 0-0...that IS coaching isn't it? May not see that this year...how embarrassing...my Alma Mater's football program can't even show up, let alone WIN one now and then...

illinizeeman wrote on October 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

Illinois football is stuck in this mess because the state of Illinois does not generate enough football talent.  More than 50% of the class should come from out of state.  When was the last time we got anyone from St. Louis?  Recruiting is the lifeblood of all athletic programs success.  The IL OL is the worst I've ever seen.  Until they get more quality and more depth, we can expect more of the same.  The DL gets very little pass rush as well, less than what was expected I presume.  They would not be better with the previous coaching staff with this OL.

I don't like the fact that IL blitzes very little, doesn't utilize the rollout enough, and Nathan doesn't slide.  He is constantly getting injured and his play deteriorates as the game progresses.  He is hurting his team unless he decides to protect his health.

There were a couple of deep balls that proved to me he will never be a quality passer.  The receivers have to constantly leap or dive for the ball on passes greater than 10 yards.

2nd guessing:

Any play that requires Nathan to be the primary ball carrier is a horrible play.  He'll either get hurt or stuffed (see 3rd and goal in the second quarter, really bad).  #5 had been a beast all day, give it to him twice and you'll get a yard.  Has the coaching staff ever heard of a lead blocking back?


OrlandoIllini wrote on October 29, 2012 at 10:10 am

"...next Saturday in Columbus when URBAN MEYER names the score against Illinois. Given the way he has let his team play this season, the number might hit the 60s."

I would put money on Ohio State's score being in the 80s, and the Illini posting a goose egg.

Chief4Evr wrote on October 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I can't see Illinois winning any more games the remainder of the year. The defense isn't what was advertised and the o-line is very inconsistent. I am not a real Scheelhause fan because his passing is sub par but in his defense, the offensive line doesn't give him much time. He doesn't seem to know what to do when his primary is covered other than run and teams are wise to that. I don't see him developing into a good throwing QB even with additional experience. I would be giving O'Toole more reps. I know everybody is down on Coach Beckman and don't think he can coach, but is it coaching or is it lack of quality players that were recruited by Coach Zook. Seniors making bonehead plays is not the coaches fault in my opinion. If after 4 or 5 years of playing time, some of the stupid ought to be wearing off you would think. It is my feeling that you have to give a coach time to bring in his recruits to fit the system he is trying to implement. Having said that, the Illini nation will become even more impatient if we can't see some improvement in the quality of play and competitiveness and the elimination of stupid mistakes that cost us wins.

CecilColeman wrote on October 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Donovonn Young (#5) ran the ball 4 times at Wisconsin; how can his legs be tired?  And the final 00:43 of the first half was not as blatantly stupid as the final 2:20 of the first half against Louisiana Tech (where with the lead and an offense that looked hot the Illini sat on the ball and ran out the clock.  LaTech received the second half kickoff and scored on the first play from scrimmage).

That's coaching, friends. That's coaching.