One Illinois reporter told me to expect a crowd in the 40,000s for a 60,000-seat stadium. The UC hotel is overrun with red and black here, and the Bearcats figure to have a few thousand fans in the stands.
That Bearcat fans are willing to travel to what is, on paper, such an unappealing game speaks volumes to how far UC has come as a football fanbase. In 2007, with a ranked match up at Rutgers, a couple hundred fans made the trip, most of them players parents.
Part of this has to do with a young secondary that the Illini are working with. Mistakes are part of the territory in this situation, but hopefully things will improve going into the second game of the season. Of course, what could really help the secondary have a better day overall would be if the Illini could show a hint of a pass rush against the Bearcats.
The Bearcats didn't show a ton against Purdue's talented and experienced secondary. (If UC coaches knew that, at some point, one of their starting safeties managed to break both hands that would have changed) Illinois secondary may or may not be talented, but they most definitely are not experienced. Take some shots Eddie, take some shots.
Illinois recorded six plays of 30 yards or longer in its 42-34 win, equaling its total from all of last season. Digest that for a minute. The Illini offense, which finished 119th out of 120 teams in both yards and scoring last fall, had only six true explosion plays in 12 games.
That is just staggering.
Illinois is simply a terrible team defensing the pass. Their defensive line barely creates any pressure and the secondary tends to give up yards in chunks. Last week, Kory Faulkner of the FCS Southern Illinois Salukis passed for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Fighting Illini. He averaged almost 12.5 yards per completion and wasn’t sacked at all despite passing the ball 40 times. Whomever is quarterback this week, be they Munchie Legaux or Brendon Kay, better be comfortable airing it out a bit because this passing defense is basically begging to be thrown at.
Illinois’ offensive line will play a lot better with guard Teddy Karras back. Karras’ absence in the opener against Southern Illinois led to an almost completely shuffled line. All five first-teamers should be back in the spots where, as a unit, they performed well during training camp.
Offensive line play is decidedly non sexy, but this man speaks the truth. Illinois doesn't have a great deal of talent to start with, and reshuffling of the starters surely had something to do with the poor performance against SIU.
Prediction Standings, & Cincy Predictions || News-Gazette.com
The weirdest thing I have seen from an ostensibly serious newpaper, even a college town paper.
Scouting report: UC vs. Illinois || Enquirer
The Enquirer taking its pageview goosing tips from Bleacher/Report.
The Blame Game: Donovonn Young vs SIU || The Champaign Room
This is a lengthy work from a faithful Illini, but worth the time if you have it this fine gameday morning.
More from Down The Drive:
- Down The Drive Staff Predictions; Illinois
- Illini Hopes Go Through Scheelhaase
- American Athletic Conference TV Schedule
- Cincinnati Bearcats Depth Chart For Illinois Game
- Cincinnati At Illinois Keys To The Game