It's very hard not to become frustrated with this team, why? There's enough talent on this roster to make a serious run at a seven or eight win season. You have arguably one of the top two signal callers in the Big Ten in senior quarterback John Beutjer, and one of the best young running backs in true freshman, E.B. Halsey, and a talented group of receivers, so they say.
So what's the problem you ask? After the first three games there's no consistency, starting with the offense, defense, and special teams. Against Missouri, the defense rose to the occasion, but the offense couldn't score enough points to beat the mediocre Tiger team that just cracked the Top 25 polls this week. Against Illinois St., a 1-AA school the offense looked like it was ready to score every possession. Then came last Saturday against a very beatable UCLA Bruin team, the offense laid maybe one of their biggest eggs of head coach Ron Turner's tenure at Illinois. Special teams have been another nightmare. Sometimes it seemed like two weeks would pass before the punter could get his punt off. The field goal unit was the "one" bright spot on special teams. Senior John Gockman was perfect until last Saturday, but because of "another" false start the poor kid was asked to move back another five yards to kick the game tying field goal, the rest you know.
Ron Turner is a very honest man, sometimes his answers rub the average fan the wrong way, but the truth is what it is. His favorite line is "guys have to make plays" you know what, he's right. How many times this season has senior CB Christian Morton let a ball fumble off his fingers? Did you know the defense has recorded only one interception to this point, Morton could have at least three if he would have, "made the plays."
It's very hard to let go of last years great receivers, no names mentioned, but this point must be made. One reason the Illini haven't had as many "big plays" on offense this year is because they don't fight for the ball when it's in the air, which in a way limits Beutjer. In the past, if the ball were thrown deep players would dive for it, now it appears if the pass is not on the money, it might not be caught. If the ball was thrown and the receiver couldn't catch it they would knock it away. The one time a player, Ade Adeyemo decides to really go after one, he broke a few ribs and will miss 3-6 weeks of action.
Just when you thought things were bad, did you know there's been one TD this season if you take away the Illinois St. game? When you look at the big picture Turner's right, it all comes down to making plays.