PRESSED FOR TIME
Three media members who will cover Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium weigh in:
Chuck Long, BTN analyst
Illinois is one of the more improved teams in the league, especially offensively. That goes without saying. Bill Cubit has done a good job of coming in and playing to the strength so far of the personnel he has on his offense. Obviously, it starts with Nathan Scheelhaase. He’s having a nice bounceback year. I like what he’s doing. I still think he’s still trying to get used to the system. He was really off rhythm and the timing wasn’t there against Washington. Bill made some nice halftime adjustments and got him going in the second half. At least the offensive side has bought in to that system, and they have some confidence that they just didn’t have last year. You have an identity at least. Defensively, I think they’re still working things out, especially on pass defense. Right now, they’re not getting their hands on the ball enough. They’ve got to get their coverage tighter. They’re trying to keep everything in front. I’m not saying in the form of interceptions. Just knocking the ball down and getting some pass breakups would be a good thing. When you’re young, and they have a young secondary, you have to keep it simple.
Steve Baker, Miami (Ohio) radio play-by-play
There has been (some improvement), particularly on the defensive side. It kind of started in the second half against Kentucky in that loss down there. Things started to click a little bit with the defense. They made some adjustments and kept making those adjustments through the Cincinnati game. Defensively, I think they’re making great strides. The offense, though, continues to struggle, and I’m not sure how they’re going to figure things out in time for (Illinois). They just have not been able to find the things consistently to be able to make (the offense) work. The coaching staff and the team are committed to the run. So far, they haven’t been able to make it work consistently. They’ll get a play here or there. You can’t do a whole lot of things well if you can’t run the ball and do it consistently. That’s really been the plague of this team right now. This is a young football team, so make no mistake about that, that could be an issue, too. They are young, as far as the team is concerned. They’re paying the price, I think, for the youth in a lot of that area, particularly on the offensive side. The defense played very good football (against Cincinnati). They came out energized. You could see it in their faces.
Tom Downey, The Miami Student
I expect Illinois to defeat Miami with relative ease. Miami’s defense has been much improved since giving up 24 points in the first quarter to Kentucky, but the offense has not. They have not scored an offensive touchdown in 10 quarters. Miami is running a wishbone offense this season, and the results have been awful, with the RedHawks having the worst statistical offense in the NCAA. They’ve put up just 448 yards all season. To put that in perspective, 52 teams are averaging more yards per game than Miami has all year. On the bright side for Miami, punter Zac Murphy is leading the NCAA in several punting categories, including yards per punt. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase could have a field day against Miami, but he’ll need to watch out for cornerback Dayonne Nunley. He’s a playmaker on defense and has a future in the NFL. Miami’s best player on offense is wide receiver Dawan Scott, but he may not play this week after being on the receiving end of a targeting hit last week. The only way Illinois does not win this game is if it gets caught looking ahead to its matchup against Nebraska.