The Illini went to Ann Arbor simply as stepping-stones for a Wolverine team that is looking to secure a top spot in the Legends Division. Poor defense, injuries, and inability to move the football seem to be the reoccurring themes for Illinois football.
Illinois came out of the gates with some fire and determination, but to no avail. They ran the ball hard and looked confident as they stepped on the field at the Big House. It wouldn’t be long before Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense sucked the air out of them. They were stopped on their first drive and watched as their defense let up a 71 yard bubble screen to Jeremy Gallon.
Illinois tried a couple bubble screens of their own, but Nathan Scheelhaase’s weak arm just isn’t suitable for those types of plays. It looked like the Illini might have had a chance in this game when Denard Robinson left the field holding his throwing hand, but this merely paused the Denard show. His pinky finger injury only held him out of one series as he would eventually return to march the Wolverines down for a 6 yard touchdown run a few drives later.
Nathan Scheelhaase had a quick 23 yard burst that took the Illini past midfield. He was tackled from behind and stayed down on the field for a few minutes. Scheelhaase would be knocked out of the game on that play and would not return.
Reilly O’Toole who has seen action in a few games this season took over for Scheelhaase at quarterback. He threw a pick early into the third quarter that led to a quick 8-yard touchdown pass.
Denard Robinson out gained the Illini, in terms of yardage, by himself. He threw for 259 yards while the Illini threw for just 29. He rushed for 128 while the Illini rushed for just 104. Robinson even didn’t play a single snap in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to blame their defense for giving up 45 points because their offense could not stay on the field long enough to give them time to rest.
Going forward, Tim Beckman’s job continues to get tougher. How will he convince his players that they actually have anything to play for? Will they be able to win another game this season or will they top last years 6 game losing streak with a 9 game skid?
Fortunately for the Illini it looks like there might be some positive light in their future. If my eyes read the 2013 College Football Recruiting Commitment Scorecard correctly, The Illini currently have the 16th ranked recruiting class for 2013. This puts them second in the Big Ten and might offer some consoling to their ailing fans. It will take a few years for these new guys to produce wins, but the future is not as bleak as some may think.
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