The Buzz Word: Execution

CHAMPAIGN - Following the loss to Louisiana Tech, "execution" was a common theme among the players.

Execution

It's a word that came up in each player's post-game talks. It's also something the team knows they just didn't do against Louisiana Tech.

All the players on both offense and defense knew what they would be facing when LaTech came to town, but they admitted to a lack of execution and put that responsibility upon themselves for it, and so did Coach Beckman.

"We did not do a good job with turning the football over and giving up big strikes defensively," Beckman said. "And that was the name of the game. We definitely did not play up to the capabilities that we are capable of doing."

The biggest points on execution in Beckman's eyes were the six turnovers Illinois committed and several big Louisiana Tech plays that put Illinois behind early on.

"Definitely the turnovers and the long strikes in the passing game (disappointed us)," Beckman said. "You aren't going to win if you turn the football over and give up bit strikes."

It was a frustrating night for defensive end Michael Buchanan as well. Buchanan is a vocal and emotional leader for the defense, and he knows that the execution just wasn't there.

"We just didn't play well," he said. "We didn't play well on the three phases. We didn't play well on defense, offense, or special teams. That pretty much sums it up. I'm pretty sure I can speak for the rest of my teammates: we're very embarrassed by this loss and we have to get things fixed."

Jonathan Brown was equally disappointed after the game, too. Louisiana Tech's gameplan wasn't a surprise to him or his teammates, and like Buchanan, he emphasized execution.

"We knew what they were about to do," he said. "We just didn't execute. That's it. It wasn't the tempo. It was us. Coach is making the calls. We just have to get together as a defense and execute."

But the Illinois coaches and players don't have time to feel bad about this game or wonder what they could have done differently. Big Ten play kicks off next weekend, and if Illinois doesn't execute their gameplan more effectively, they face the possibility of another struggle.

Luckily, Penn State's offense is not what you would call "uptempo," which seems to be the Achilles heel of the Illini so far on defense.

Michael Buchanan doesn't want to waste any time righting the ship. Every unit of the team has to do their part in order for the Illini to be successful.

"We're going into Big Ten play, and the things that we're having issues with we know are very fixable," he said. "We just have to lock in as a team. The defense has to play well, the offense has to play well. The special teams. It's us as a whole, so we can't point any fingers."

Penn State may be down, but they aren't out. Illinois has an opportunity to regain momentum next weekend if they can correct their errors, and it would go a long way toward propelling the Illini forward into Big Ten play, especially with the nature of the conference this year.

But when the pads get strapped on and the players take the field, it still all boils down to execution, and every single player for Illinois knows the importance of getting the job done.


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