The Illini entered the red zone seven times last week and failed to put points on the board during three of those trips. Trip is what they did all game and have been doing all season. This weekend they will take a trip to Camp Randall in Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers have been equally as disappointed as the Illini. Like the Illinois defense, the Wisconsin offense received high praise coming into the season. They lost their starting quarterback Russell Wilson to Pete Carroll and the surprising Seattle Seahawks, but Heisman candidate Montee Ball stayed with the team for another season. The Badgers come into the game 3-2 to the Illini’s 2-3, both teams 0-1 in Big Ten play.
The Illini will have to dig deep and figure out how to get things going for the rest of their season. It’s clear that their top 10 defense from last year is nonexistent and there may be a bit of a hangover from last year’s awful overall finish.
Tim Beckman was grilled at the coach’s press conference this Monday, and Tuesday as he continued with his usual generic responses.
“We’ve got to continue to strive to get ourselves better and find out what the problems are and fix them,” Said Beckman.
It would be great for everybody, including the coaches and players, if Beckman would reveal just what those problems are. The scary thing is that Beckman might not know.
“The things we continue to stress is trying and take our program and get it better each and every week,” Beckman said. “There are things that have happened these last two weeks that have really bitten us.”
“We’ve been our own worst enemy throughout these last two weeks with turnovers and putting our defense’s back to the wall and just not performing the way we’re capable of performing. Probably pressing a little bit too much.”
Now, Beckman better press the issue on his team that they are rapidly losing the trust and respect of their fans. It’s tough to see your team get embarrassed on their home turf in consecutive weeks. How are you supposed to defend a team that isn’t worthy of being defended? Especially when they have pro caliber players on the defensive side of the ball and a couple of honorable mentions on offense.
Akeem Spence, Michael Buchanan, and Jonathon Brown have combined for just 4.5 sacks in the past five games. These guys were expected to dominate the line and the defense has forced just nine turnovers in five games while the offense has given up 14. The Illini have forced 16 fumbles and only recovered six. Their slow starts have been putting them behind early and often as they are being outscored 49-30 in the first quarter. Now, they are behind the 8-ball once again and will need a miraculous trick shot to salvage their season.
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