Fear This: Arrelious Benn

Arrelious_benn_medium

The Player So Good, They Named Him Twice! One of the Zooker's many prized DC recruits, this five-star picked the Illini over FSU and Notre Dame. It's been two years, and if it wasn't for NFL cronyism, he would be making a lot more money than he is now to play football.  He's probably a top ten pick in 2010 ($).

His 2007 season was good enough for Big Ten Freshman Player of the Year (the after-season one, that's actually based on performance), which was part of him catching twice as many passes as anyone else on the team.

That wasn't enough for Arrelious, who caught 67 passes in 2008, three times more than the next guy on the list, good for over 1,000 yards. Oh, and he also scored two TDs on the ground.

He's good.  Everyone knows he's good, by multiples over any of Williams' other targets, and there is still nothing anyone has been able to do about it.

You May Remember Me From Such Network Specials As. This catch, which might not have been a catch at all but was still probably the single best play of that entire game (at 1:58):

 

And not to bring up The FAILure, but it would be unfair to leave it out:

 

Personality Check: Interview from 2008:

Q:  How about your least favorite moment [of the 2007 season]?
A: Losing to Iowa. I hate Iowa.

Pass.

The Penn State Extrapolation.  For any team trying to contain them, there are really two main elements:

  • Hope Crazy-Turnover Juice shows up instead of Crazy-Talented Juice.  This doesn't have anything to do with handle Benn but his success obviously starts there.
  • Hope you have a shutdown corner that can, like, not totally embarrass themselves.  This is measured on a sliding scale that doesn't go very far into the green.

Penn State had success in the 2008 slugfest with the "mush rush", keeping Williams in the pocket and making him win with his arm or else die a slow death under the QB Spy.  I say that not because it seems to be a solution, but because when Paterno's staff is faced with what worked in the past and something different that hasn't yet been proven, they tend to stick to the former.  I'll be surprised if Benn isn't given a lot of chances to make big plays in 2009.

(Just to pile on about the '08 Illini: QB rating and Benn's involvement don't seem any predictive traits regarding Illini success.  It really is all about turnovers.)

Benn had both his longest play and best average per catch against Penn State last year, and now will be up against a greener unit that still lacks serious size.  I said that Bradley & Co. might continue to force Juice to throw, but with Benn being able to kill you on any given play, it becomes more risky.  The biggest question will be whether Illinois has the depth the replace an otherwise completely wiped out set of receivers (even if they were all stage extras to Benn).

It's the strongest receiver against one of the most unproven defensive units in all of the Big Ten, there won't really be an easy answer to compensate for this.

Fear This? Like the The Exorcist stairs.

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