Every game is a must win situation, but today could be the start of something good for Illinois the Football program if they can come away with a win. This being a road game is the only disadvantage I see for the Illini. The Bruins lost their starting QB Matt More with a leg injury that could have him sidelined up to six weeks. Sophomore QB Drew Olson will get the start today for the Bruins. Olson completed 13-23 passes for 164 yards, two td's and no interceptions. The Illini's secondary will be tested today, sophomore Marcedes Lewis had six catches for 96 yards against Colorado, and did I mention he's 6'6". Another key may be if UCLA has to rely on red-shirt freshman QB Brain Callahan to back-up Olson if he struggles. Key, Illini get to Olson early and make the Bruins go to there freshman.
This being Dorrell's first year might be an edge for Ron Turner and the Illini, as Turner has one of the greatest offensive minds in college football. If the Illini could take the lead early and put pressure on the Bruins to throw the football they could make UCLA one-dimensional.
UCLA prides itself on defense this year, so the Illini can't afford to go three and out too many times on this road trip. The Bruins recorded six sacks against the Buffaloes last weekend. The Bruins defensive line may be one of the best if not the best the Illini will see all season led by defensive tackle #77 Rodney Leisle.
For the Illini it all starts with defense, the question is will it show up? The Illini defense that held Missouri to 223 total yards of offense or the defense that gave up 511 yards to Division I-AA school Illinois State. "The yardage they racked up, especially passing yardage, a lot of it was missed assignments." said safety Marc Jackson.
What's been a noticeable concern for Illinois the first two games are 3rd and long situations. Missouri and Illinois St. exposed the Illini against the quarterback draw. Maybe if the Illini are lucky Dorrell will miss that part of film session, don't count on it.
When the Illinois has the ball they will be in good hands with senior QB Jon Beujter, one of the Big Ten's best signal callers. Beujter will find his targets; he's completing 70.1% of his passes which is tops in the Big Ten. Another key ingredient for the Illini are first year players Lonnie Hurst 6'3" and Kelvin Hayden former NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year
This is a big game for the Illini to show they can to be a factor in the Big Ten this season, and play up to their potential.
Pick the Score:
Illinois 34 UCLA 21