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Illinois Postgame

Final Score

Illinois 12
Penn State 16

The offense didn't even show up today. They were so bad their 10 points have been taken away upon further review. The good news is Penn State has still won the game by four points.

Game Story

I sat through that garbage of a game once. Always a glutton for punishment, I went home and watched the tape. I'm really not in the mood to relive the experience a third time and recap it for you. Here is the Elaine Benes version.

Penn State came out and kicked a field goal on the opening drive to take a 3-0 lead. Juice Williams and Rashard Mendenhall ran all over the field making the defense look silly, then yada yada yada it was 9-3 Illinois at halftime.

Paul Posluszny and Anthony Scirrotto took over the game in the second half and yada yada yada the final score was 26-14 and Penn State won.

Elaine: I've yada yada'd sex.

George: Really?

Elaine: Yeah. I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the lobster bisk, we went back to my place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.

Jerry: But you yada yada'd over the best part.

Elaine: No, I mentioned the bisk.

Let's get the game balls out of the way.

Game Balls

Anthony Scirrotto has officially arrived as a playmaker. The coaches challenged the defense to make a play on defense, and Scirrotto responded with two interceptions in the third quarter. Then with a minute and a half to go he scooped up an onsides kick attempt by Illinois and sprinted into the endzone to ice the game. Scirrotto leads the team with 4 INT on the season.

Who says white men can't jump?

Paul Posluszny - The senior captian was obviously upset on the sidelines after the first half. After the coaches challenged the defense in the locker room at halftime, Poz had 9 tackles in the second half. In his Butkus moment for the day, Poz came on a blitz just missing Williams. Juice started to scramble but Poz came back to hit him from behind and force a fumble. Tony Davis picked up the ball and walked into the endzone to give the Lions a 17-9 lead. Poz finished the game with 13 tackles and 1 sack.

Who did Butkus play for again?

Deon Butler - I really struggled to find someone worthy of a game ball on offense. Nobody had a standout day. But I felt Butler showed more hustle and effort than any of his teammates. He finished the day with only 5 catches and 65 yards, but he played better than his stats show. He made one spectacular sideline catch keeping a foot in bounds and almost made another circus catch in the south endzone. There was also a play in the north endzone where he outran his defender by five yards, but Morelli overthrew him.

The only player on offense that came to play

Impressions of the Game

Hmmm.  Where should we start. Anyone? An anonymous commenter left the following comment in the open thread.

Wow.  What has happened to PSU's offensive line.  It is brutally bad.

Our anonymous commenter has made an astute observation. Let me add to that. Our offensive line sucks. I mean sucks bad. On the suck scale they are a 7. Did I mention the suck scale only goes up to 5?

I watched the replay closely, and the biggest problem was left guard. Robert Price started the game at LG and was completely ineffective. On one play his defender just shoved him out of the way and ran by him on his way to creaming Morelli as he let the ball go. On another display of ineptitude, Price pulled left on a 3rd and 2 sweep to Derrick Williams in Penn State's second possession of the game. Price practically jogged to the outside and got in Williams' way. Derrick shoved him from behind which prompted Price to run through three defenders without laying a hand on one of them. Williams was gobbled up for no gain and Penn State was forced to punt. That was the last play Price was on the field. Gerald Cadogen played the LG for the rest of the game. Cadogen played with a much better effort, but he appeared overmatched all day long.

On the other side, I don't think I saw John Shaw pick up a blitz all day. He was replaced by Chris Auletta in the second half with similar results. Corners and linebackers were running by them all day. They seemed completely perplexed by the concept of a delayed blitz, which Illinois was brining often. On one sad display, J Leman started in the middle of the field, ran all the way around the right tackle untouched, slipped and fell down, got up, and still sacked Morelli. Nobody touched him. Pathetic.

What? Green Goblin has kidnapped the President? It's going to have to wait. Poz has a game to save.

The running game went nowhere. Shipley and the guards couldn't get any push at all. The tackles couldn't seal the corner once. This was all around the worst effort by a Penn State offensive line I can recall in recent memory. I don't know how it's possible, but this group has gotten worse over the past month.

Tony Hunt will never be a premier running back in the NFL. Somebody will draft him on the second day and he might make a roster somewhere. He's a powerful runner between the tackles, but he can't turn the corner in college which means he stands no chance in the Pros. Time and time again Penn State tried a sweep with Hunt to avoid the clogged up middle. Hunt looked like he was running in slow motion as he repeatedly got gobbled up at the line of scrimmage.

The defense had no answer for the option in the first half. Illinois has not run a lot of option all year and the Lions were clearly not expecting it. Juice and Mendenhall were having a field day making Connor look silly as he often found himself out on an island with no help. The Illini were able to expose the glaring weakness of the defense, our defensive ends. Gaines, Evans, and the Shaws repeatedly got sealed and were unable to rush up field to disrupt the option. But give credit to the Lions, they were able to adjust in the second half but moving the ends out a bit and bringing the linebackers and safeties up to slow it down a bit.

On Illinois' final desperation drive with under a minute in the game, the Lions gave up a quick 48 yards to allow the Illini to get in position for a Hail Mary pass. During a timeout, Tom Bradley was visibly upset with Tony Davis on the sideline. He pointed at A.J. Wallace motioning him to come. Then he grabbed him and shoved him on the field and shoved Davis to the sideline. Perhaps we'll be seeing more of Wallace in weeks to come. Up until that point Davis had been playing a pretty solid game by my view. I'm guessing he started the victory celebration a bit early.

Josh Gaines is developing into a very good pass rusher. He managed to get a sack this weekend, but he beat his man and got pressure on Juice quite a few times. Had he not been trying to catch a greased gazelle he might have had three or four sacks on the day. His ball handling skills need improvement. Late in the fourth quarter he picked up a fumble and ran toward the endzone, but he coughed up the ball when hit and gave it right back to Illinois.

Not quite ready for the Heisman yet

Jeremy Kapinos is awesome. He's going to be punting on Sundays next year. Time and time again the offense went 3-and-out and he bailed them out with a fantastic punt. He punted 8 times for a 45.6 yard average. Two punts went over 50 yards and 4 landed inside the 20 yard line. It's pretty sad when the announcers name your punter as the MVP of the game.

BSD Said...

It should be another 25 carry 140 yard workhorse day for Tony Hunt.

Wrong. 19 carries for 52 yards. Hunt was a total non-factor.

Butler gets over 100 yards receiving including two catches over 40 yards.

Butler had 5 catches for 65 yards. He was wide open on a play action reverse, but Morelli badly overthrew him. And he almost made one of his signature circus catches on another bomb, but couldn't hang on to the ball. But he was still the most effective weapon in the receiving game.

Penn State gains over 400 yards of total offense. 200 on the ground.

Did I say Penn State? I meant Illinois. The Lions only managed a pitiful 184 yards on offense with 40 yards rushing.

Illinois is held to 250 yards total offense and under 100 yards rushing.

Illinois had 358 total yards and 202 on the ground. Bend but don't break defense at its best.

Illinois commits 3 turnovers

2 INT and a fumble. Winner!

Kevin Kelly makes a field goal over 45 yards. I'm really going out on a limb on that one.

The prediction I was least comfortable with was the first to come to fruition as Kelly hit a 49 yarder on Penn State's first possession. Later in the game he missed one from 44 yards.

Final Score
Illinois 10
Penn State 45

Yeah. Ok. I was pretty close on Illinois score, but that's due more to them stalling in the redzone than us dominating on defense. I didn't expect them to get that many quality drives. The Nittany Lions offense really let me down. I expected a much better effort against this team.

Next Up

Next weekend the Lions travel to Purdue to play the Boilermakers. Purdue is 5-3 (2-2 Big Ten) after a 24-3 loss to Wisconsin this weekend. They sport their usual high octane offense, but the defense has been less than spectacular. Two weeks ago I had this game in the probable win column. Now I think it's more in the tossup/possible loss column. The game will be televised on ABC at 12 PM.