For the first time in over a month, and really since the 2008 blowout of Michigan State, the team looked like they were having fun. Underwhelming wins against horrible teams isn't rewarding for anyone except the non-revenue sports, and obviously last week was -- well, moving on...
Stephfon Green finally had a breakout game between the tackles. When Royster didn't appear to be getting it done, Green ran hard and to the holes in the third quarter and, for the first time in his career, looked like an every down back. The spark did something to Royster, too, who came back in and seemed to be running more confidently and downhill to boot. Both backs finished the game with over 100 yards rushing.
Graham Zug showed back up after his disappearing act against Iowa, he had three catches for 28 yards. Moye continues to be a dangerous target and long ball threat; he led the team in receiving yards with 57.
The biggest surprise was the play of Andrew Quarless, who looks, well, like we all hoped he would one day. Gods Gift didn't pick up killer yardage, but he was always there for Clark when the offense needed those 5 yards for the first down.
And guess what, Clark finally ran the ball! His pop and pull touchdowns were nice, even if they did feel like cheating somehow, and he added 83 yards on the ground with a wooo woooo 51-yarder that proved to be the turning point of the then 7-3 ballgame. I'll continue to remain terrified of an injury, but if you don't put down the chips you can't win.
In the end, the team outgained Illinois by over 100 yards, had their best rushing game of the season, and took care of the ball save one blindside strip. Three of their four touchdown drives started at or near the 20, and Clark got those goal line pushes that were clockwork last season. Maybe the Illinois defense is just that bad, but you have to like the way the offense took advantage of it.
And there were laughs: Clark was on the sidelines doing some type of strange dance late in the game, then several minutes later could be found messing with Kevin Newsome as he tried to warm up for his weekly drive. Things are better when the team is having fun.
We still haven't seen the offense against a real defense in real weather, and the chances of that happening can only decrease as we enter October. Joker four of four is coming up this week and should be a good opportunity to get healthy and gain some backup experience.