Box Score Breakdown: Florida A & M

After a complete dismantling of the Florida A & M Rattlers on Saturday afternoon, the Fighting Illini are sitting at 1-0 for the first time since 2001. Jeff Murdock took some time out of his post game shenanigans and ale drinking to break down the box score in Illinois' first game of the 2004 season.

Saturday in Champaign, the Fighting Illini football team did just what is was supposed to do, beat down an inferior team and make them cry for mercy. The Illini jumped out to a 52-0 lead midway through the third quarter, and put the game on cruise control after that. The Florida A & M Rattlers scored the next thirteen points to bring the game to its final score of 52-13. In reality the game was never as close as the final score; the Illini just completely dominated the game.

It is now the time in the game recap that I must look at the box score to see how the Illini handled the competition, and to see if I can use Saturday afternoon's game as a predicator for what may happen Saturday the 11th against UCLA.

  Florida A & M Illinois
First Downs 21 26
Rushes - Yards 25-71 48-296
Passing Yards 287 258
Passes Comp-Att-Int 37-55-2 18-23-0
Total Offense (Plays-Yards) 80-358 71-554
Fumble Returns - Yards 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns - Yards 0-0 5-42
Kickoff Returns - Yards 6-105 3-68
Interception Returns - Yards 0-0 2-23
Punts (Num - Avg.) 6-44.0 3-48.0
Fumbles - Lost 2-1 0-0
Time of Possession 29:26 30:24
Third Down Conversions 7-16 5-11
Fourth Down Conversions 0-1 1-1
Red Zone Scores - Chances 2-2 6-7
Sacks By: Num - Yards 0-0 2-18

When you look at the overall box score it is pretty obvious the Illini dominated the game. They out rushed the Rattlers by a total of 225 yards, and out gained them on the whole for the game by just under 200 yards (196 yards). When in the red zone, both teams were efficient as Illinois scored on all but one opportunity (a missed 32-yard field goal by true freshman Jason Reda), and the Rattlers scored on their only two red zone opportunities (both against the second / third string Illinois defense).

Every one knew about the depth in the Illini running back corps with sophomores EB Halsey and Pierre Thomas being joined by true freshman Brock Bolen. The Illini backs did not disappoint as all three of the key ball carriers had an average of more than 4.5 yards per carry.

  Attempts Total TDs Long Average
Pierre Thomas 14 143 2 60 10.2
EB Halsey 16 79 2 12 4.9
Brock Bolen 11 51 0 11 4.6
Justin Ijei 4 16 0 5 4.0
Jason Davis 1 11 1 11 11.0
Totals 48 296 5 60 6.2

Pierre Thomas: He was the Illini's leading rusher, and had the long run of the game. He is probably the better runner between him and EB Halsey. Instead of trying to use quickness and agility to get around tacklers, Pierre just punished tacklers and ran over them. His 60-yard run should have been a touchdown, but unfortunately, he lacked the speed to get to the end zone. He scored one touchdown on a one yard carry in the second quarter after a 52-yard pass from Jon Beutjer to Kendrick Jones. His other touchdown was a 24-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

EB Halsey: Halsey was the Illini starter and received the first eleven carries of the game, including every carry in the first quarter. Halsey had only one carry in Illinois' first series of the second half, and then he like the rest of the first string offense was on the bench. Halsey's long run was only 12 yards, and he did have two rushes that each netted negative one yard. He scored twice in the game, both on two yard runs. Surprisingly, Halsey only caught two passes out of the backfield for six yards.

Brock Bolen: This was the first time Bolen saw action in a college football game, and he was nearly everything I expected him to be. He played in both single and double back situations. He only caught one pass out of the backfield, but he did carry the ball eleven times. His first carry was not until the third quarter, and after the score was 52-0.

Jason Davis: Davis is a prototypical fullback during the Ron Turner regime at Illinois. He can make the occasional run, but he is most effective catching the ball out of the backfield and picking up the blitz from the backfield. Davis' only carry resulted in an eleven yard touchdown run on the first drive of the first half. Davis had three receptions out of the backfield for Illinois, with a long for 24 yards.

For the second straight year, Jon Beutjer is looking to find a new number one receiver as Kelvin Hayden is now in the defensive backfield instead of the wide receiving corps. Illinois is relying on many players that don't have much in game college experience, especially Kendrick Jones who they are looking to pick things up this season. On Saturday afternoon, Beutjer spread the ball around with no player catch more than three passes, and four different receivers catching the ball.

  Receptions Yards TDs Long
Kendrick Jones 3 101 0 52
Ade Adeyamo 3 42 0 24
Melvin Bryant 3 34 1 26
Jason Davis 3 34 0 24
EB Halsey 2 6 0 6
Zach Gray 1 27 0 27
Franklin Payne 1 8 0 8
Spencer Jensen 1 3 0 3
Brock Bolen 1 3 0 3
Totals 18 258 1 52

Kendrick Jones: Today Kendrick made strides into becoming that number one receiver that Beutjer will be looking for this year. He did drop one pass, but Beutjer went right back to him later in the game. Beutjer under threw Jones on a play that should have resulted in a touchdown, but instead was just a 52-yard pass to the one yard line. Jones has one other long reception on Saturday, a 45-yard catch along the left sideline that also led to an Illinois touchdown.

Ade Adeyamo: Ade was solid on Saturday. He caught three passes for 42 yards, including one reception that set up Illinois' first touchdown: a 24-yard catch that brought Illinois to the 19 yard line.

Melvin Bryant: The biggest surprise in yesterday's game was the emergence of the pass catching tight end in Illinois' offense. Melvin Bryant seemed to get many looks from Beutjer as he checked down to different receivers. He caught a 2-yard touchdown pass as the Illini were knocking on the door in the second quarter. With the lack of star receivers like Illinois has had in the past, the tight end will become a much needed pass catcher for Beutjer this season.

Zach Gray: The former defensive end, turned into blocking tight end actually caught a pass from Illini back up quarterback Brad Bower. Gray will probably be seen more in jumbo and big formations, than in pass catching roles, but when you have a game like you did against Florida A & M, it is a good opportunity to get every one involved in new roles in a game situation.

If any one had any doubts as to whether or not Jon Beutjer was the best quarterback in Champaign, IL those questions were quickly answered on Saturday afternoon. Beutjer was nearly perfect as he picked apart the Rattler defense with the surgeon-like precision. After the first drive of the third quarter (which I thought was one drive too long), Beutjer put on the baseball cap for the rest of the day and enjoyed watching his back up Brad Bower run the Illini offense.

  Comp-Att-Int Yards Touchdowns
Jon Beutjer 16-18-0 228 1
Brad Bower 2-5-0 30 0
Totals 18-23-0 258 1

Jon Beutjer: Beutjer was nearly perfect on Saturday afternoon. He only threw two incompletions, and one of those was a dropped pass by Kendrick Jones. The other was him throwing the ball into the ground. Beutjer distributed the ball evenly among his receivers, so there was no way to tell which receiver he would lean on this season as his go to guy. Illini fans were also watching to see how Beutjer took his first hit after his back surgery that ended his season last year, and he looked like the Jon Beutjer of old at least on this day.

Brad Bower: It appears that red shirt freshman Brad Bower will be the back up quarterback for the rest of the season as he was the only Illinois quarterback besides Beutjer to take a snap. Bower took all the snaps after Jon Beutjer was pulled from the game, and his job was to mostly hand the ball off to whoever was in the backfield. He only threw five passes, so you could tell Turner was content to just run the ball and let the clock tick down on the Illini victory.

If there was one thing troubling from the Illini defensive statistics, it was where the tackles were coming from yesterday. Matt Sinclair led the Illini with eight tackles, but after him there was a long string of defensive backs and safeties leading the Illini until another linebacker or defensive lineman showed up on the list. This can be explained away by the fact that the Rattlers threw the ball twice as much as they ran it, but it is still something that could show a sign of trouble for the future. The tackling statistics appear to show that the Illini need to do a better job of getting off their blocks in the front eight, but it will take a few more games to know if this was an anomaly due to the Rattler's Gulf Coast Offense.

  Solo Assists Total
Matt Sinclair 5 3 8
Justin Harrison 5 2 7
Kelvin Hayden 4 2 6
Morris Virgil 4 2 6
Anthony Thornhill 3 3 6
James Cooper 2 4 6
Kevin Mitchell 2 4 6
Mike Gawelek 3 2 5
J. Leman 2 3 5
Travis Williams 3 1 4
Kyle Kleckner 2 1 3
Arthur Boyd III 2 1 3
Shareef Abdullah 2 1 3
Josh Norris 1 2 3
Tyler Rouse 0 3 3
Charles Bailey, Jr. 2 0 2
Chris Norwell 2 0 2
James Stevenson 1 1 2
Mike O'Brien 1 1 2
Alan Ball 1 1 2
Josh Tischer 0 2 2
Ade Adeyamo 1 0 1
Joe Mele 1 0 1
Scott Moss 1 0 1
Steve Weatherford 0 1 1
Totals 50 40 90

Matt Sinclair: Matt led the Illini in tackles from the outside linebacker position. He had two tackles for loss, netting 14 yards against the Rattlers. He also had one sack for eight yards.

Kelvin Hayden: Kelvin contributed two interceptions, including one that he returned for a 23-yard touchdown in the third quarter that ended the Illini scoring. He also forced one fumble, and had one pass break up. It was an extremely impressive debut for Hayden as a corner back.

Arthur Boyd III: Boyd contributed two tackles for loss, totaling 13 yards against the Rattlers. He also had a sack that caused the Rattlers to lose ten yards.

Mike O'Brien: O'Brien only had two tackles on Saturday afternoon. More was expected of O'Brien, who is returning from ACL surgery, but he might not be back to one hundred percent. He was able to recover one fumble on the evening, though.

  • It was nice to see Kurt Kittner, Walter Young, and Greg Lewis on the sidelines talking it up during the game. It is too bad that Kittner and Young were both cut, but I think Young can at least make a practice roster somewhere. After bouncing around on three different teams this year, I have a feeling Kittner's future in football may be as a coach.
  • The 46,000 people in Champaign for Saturday night's game were treated to the Florida A & M band. They put on a pretty good show for those in attendance, before the game, at half time, and after the game.
  • Saturday's game was a great way to break the losing streak for the Illini, but the Illini's true test for how far the team has come will be Saturday the 11th against UCLA. The Bruins lost to the Oklahoma State Cowboys 31-20 in Los Angeles. The Cowboys managed to total 447 yards against the Bruins, 429 of them on the ground. The Bruins also totaled 447 yards on offense against the Cowboys, but they were more balanced with 251 throw the air and 196 on the ground. The UCLA running game will be a tough task for the Illini defense next weekend.
  • The true freshman who played in Saturday's game against Florida A & M, and thus cannot red shirt this year are: Charles Bailey, Jr., Brock Bolen, Justin Harrison, Kyle Knezetic, Jason Reda, and Russ Weil.
  • The Illini wore their all orange uniforms on Saturday afternoon, and the team's record under Turner in all orange is now 1-1. As last basketball season showed, the Illini fans and players love it when the team and fans are all decked out in orange. Let's hope this can continue to happen on Saturdays. The Illini players and fans wearing all orange.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories