Illini Report Card: vs. Kent State, Sept. 1, 2018

Illini Report Card: vs. Kent State, Sept. 1, 2018

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Illinois linebacker Jake Hansen

He had to sit out the 2017 season with a torn ACL. Hansen showed the team what it was missing, tying the school record for tackles for a loss in a game with six. Jeff Weisse now has company in the Illinois record book and the Illini opponents have another Illinois linebacker to plan against.

OFFENSE

Illinois B-, Kent State B-

Really, it would be best to split the Illinois grade in two, An F for the first half, when it scored three points and got booed off the field, and an A for the final 30 minutes. Kent State quarterback Woody Barrett is going to give the MAC fits.

DEFENSE

Illinois C, Kent State C

Hardy Nickerson's guys got a much better handle on the Golden Flashes in the second half. Quan Martin got his first college pick. Next time, he needs to hang onto the ball (thanks Stanley Green). Kent State held up well in the first half but was worn out in the final two quarters.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Illinois C, Kent State C-

Lots of good things for Bob Ligashesky's guys: Blake Hayes booming punts, Mikey Dudek's return and a 50-yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin. But Dominic Stampley needs to make better decisions on fielding kicks. He'll do better. Kent State's punter shanked two.

COACHING

Illinois C, Kent State C

Give offensive coordinator Rod Smith credit for sticking with the plan. Eventually, AJ Bush Jr. was much better in the second half in his first heavy playing time in a while. Kent State has found a keeper in Sean Lewis.

OVERALL

 

Illinois C, Kent State C

With Hall of Famers Dana Howard and David Williams in the house, the Illini failed to impress. In the first half. But 28 points after the break made the alums proud. Kent State will win more than two games this season and reach a bowl early in the young coach's tenure.