Illini grade vs. Northwestern: C plus

Illini grade vs. Northwestern: C plus

Player of the game

Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian. With Kain Colter out, the backup had a career day against the Illini. He threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats victory. The junior gives the team a reason to be excited about 2014.


Illinois B+, Northwestern A-

How much credit do you give the Wildcats on offense for 560 yards and how much blame goes to the Illinois defense? Nathan Scheelhaase led the Illini to 492 yards. Nice way to close out a career.



Illinois D, Northwestern D+

Give the Wildcats a small edge thanks to an interception that turned the game. But there were big holes on both sides of the ball and receivers running free. Both teams need to improve dramatically before they can think about winning seasons.

Special teams

Illinois B-, Northwestern B

Loren Tate was going nutso in the press box when the Illini sent Taylor Zalewski in to try a 51-yard field goal into the wind late in the first half. Fooled you. Zalewski nailed it with a couple of yards to spare. Tate continued mumbling to himself. 


Illinois C+, Northwestern B

Hard to believe a game between teams with a combined 8-14 record could be entertaining. But it was. Too bad the fans had more pressing things to do, like hunting for bargains at the mall. You could have given away 30,0000 seats and had plenty to spare.


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Profilo wrote on November 30, 2013 at 8:11 pm

You give the defense a D and the offense a B+, well, that certainly is an offense against common sense. 

The Defense forced NU to five punts, three of them in consecutive three and outs. And got one turnover on downs. they sure allowed 37 points but 7 of those were the offense's fault (nathan's interception).

What did the offense do? give an interception on the illinois territory, and give the ball back to NU at the end of the first half which they converted in a field goal (which btw, was the difference in the final score).

So you see, numbers do lie: you think of the 500 plus yards NU got and suddenly want to trash the defense, but forget that the defense had to stay in the field for 13 more minutes than the offense. overall our defense was more effective today than our offense (just like it was against Purdue and PSU). 

Dan Bloeme wrote on November 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm

You are correct, the Illini offense, specifically Scheelhaase threw a bad, bad interception which was pivotal but the defense once again stank to high heaven and was porous allowing NU QB Siemian to throw for over 400 yards and 4 TD's and one of his receivers make 13 catches for over 180 yards. So yeah Illini defense was once again putrid and as for the offense, let's just say I'm glad Lunt is taking over.

Profilo wrote on November 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm

no, I'm correct about the defense too. To judge how good or bad the defense is you need to keep in mind not just the obvious numbers on thr defenseive side of the ball but also the way Cubit's offense works: since it has annuled our running game it depends on an effective passing game. It appears the unit is effective because we see many passes thrown and catched, BUT EFFICIENCY IS ALSO ABOUT SCORING DRIVES. And our offense comtinues to score only in less than half of its drives. When it doesn't score more than likely is going 3 and out, and that just kills a defense, not just Banks defense ANY DEFENSE WILL STRUGGLE WITH A TEAM RUNNING AN INEFFICIENT spread offense.

If you dont't beleive me check Vic Koening numbers at UNC: his unit is currently 48th nationally in scoring (not a great number for a guy who had the illini defense ranked 7th nationally). does this means his unit is putrid? no, it means is not being helped enough by the offense

RPeterE wrote on December 01, 2013 at 11:12 am

Illinois defense is just plain awful. Anybody could just about score at will against Illinois all season long. Offense is very inconsistent but even when offense puts up what should be enough points, defense can't hold the other team from gashing them pretty much all game long. This team could have been bowl bound if not for the piss poor defensive coaching and head coaching. Coaches can't seem to be able to teach players how to tackle and defend the pass. Yes, the players they recruit are not Big Ten level or even BCS D-1 competitive. Most of Beckman's players are MAC level and mediocre ones at that. So mediocre MAC players and coaches and you have the disaster that is Illinois football, with not enough fans left in the stands to do the cards.