Indiana @ Illinois: Box Score Breakdown

Things are so easy when you break the down by the numbers, and that is what Jeff Murdock does every weekend after the Illinois football games. He sits down in front of a stat sheet and uses it to help in his analyzation of the Illini. This week's stat sheet just shows how impressive Pierre Thomas was rushing the ball on Saturday afternoon.

It was Senior Day and Dad's Day in Champaign, IL on Saturday afternoon, so it was only fitting that senior came off the bench to lead Illinois to their first Big Ten victory in the last fifteen games. Jon Beutjer replaced sophomore Brad Bower at the quarterback position before the final drive of the third quarter and lead the Illini on their final two scoring drives.

The Illini's final two scoring drives were done mostly with the feet of Pierre Thomas, but the play that resulted in the final score was a throw from Beutjer to a wide open Kendrick Jones. That play was set up by seven straight runs from Pierre Thomas bringing the Illini from the Hoosier 30-yard line to the two on seven plays.

The game was officially over after senior Taman Jordan intercepted a Blake Powers pass just across mid field, stopping the Hoosiers final drive on the play it started.

  Indiana Illinois
First Downs 18 17
Rushes - Yards 41-156 34-199
Passing Yards 250 152
Passes Comp-Att-Int 18-28-2 12-27-0
Total Offense (Plays-Yards) 69-406 61-351
Fumble Returns - Yards 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns - Yards 2-44 3-19
Kickoff Returns - Yards 5-291 5-322
Interception Returns - Yards 0-0 2-38
Punts (Num - Yards) 6-258 8-368
Fumbles - Lost 0-0 0-0
Time of Possession 36:41 23:19
Third Down Conversions 6-14 4-13
Fourth Down Conversions 0-0 1-1
Red Zone Scores - Chances 2-2 2-2
Sacks By: Num - Yards 3-7 1-7

Just looking at the box score there are two key statistics that jump out at me: turnovers and time of possession. The Hoosiers held the ball for thirteen more minutes than the Fighting Illini, but they could not take that time of possession advantage and turn it into a win. Why? Simple, they turned the ball over twice with two interceptions. The first interception lead to an Illinois touchdown with 30 seconds left on the clock, and the final interception ended the game for the Hoosiers.

The one thing that cannot be overlooked when you look at Saturday's game is something that is not easily gleamed from the stat line: Matt LoVecchio was taken out of the game with a concussion with just about ten minutes left in the third quarter and Indiana up on the Illini 22-14. The Hoosiers would not score another point on Saturday's game, they only picked up two first downs, and they committed two turnovers with Blake Powers replacing LoVecchio under center.

The game ball for Saturday has to be handed directly to Pierre Thomas. It was on his shoulders that Illinois won the game. He scored on a forty-four yard touchdown run, and carried the load in Illinois' final drive rushing all seven plays before Beutjer found Kendrick Jones wide open on the left side of the field.

  Attempts Total TDs Long Average
Pierre Thomas 21 185 1 44 8.8
Steve Weatherford 1 12 0 12 12.0
Jon Beutjer 2 9 8 9 4.0
EB Halsey 4 7 0 4 1.8
Jason Davis 1 2 0 2 2.0
TEAM 1 -1 0 -1 -1.0
Brad Bower 4 -14 0 1 -3.5
Totals 34 199 1 44 5.9

Pierre Thomas: I don't think there can be much more said about Pierre Thomas' performance yesterday than, wow. He was the Illini offense as his 185 rushing yards accounted for more than half of Illinois' offensive output in the game (52.7% of the Illini offense). His one touchdown was on a forty-four yard run, but what earned Thomas the game ball was the Illini's final drive. It went just like this from the Play By Play:

1-10 I30 Thomas,Pierre rush over right end for 1 yard to the IND29 (LaPostolle, Mar;Mosley, Brandon).
2-9 I29 Thomas,Pierre rush up middle for 8 yards to the IND21 (Kendal,Kenny;Jones, Herana-D).
3-1 I21 Timeout Illinois, clock 02:51.
3-1 I21 Thomas,Pierre rush up middle for 6 yards to the IND15, 1ST DOWN ILL (Jones, Herana-D).
1-10 I15 Thomas,Pierre rush over right guard for 1 yard to the IND14 (Clemons, Jodie;LaPostolle, Mar).
2-9 I14 Thomas,Pierre rush up middle for 2 yards to the IND12 (Clemons, Jodie;Adeyanju, Victo).
3-7 I12 Thomas,Pierre rush up middle for 7 yards to the IND5, 1ST DOWN ILL (Jones, Herana-D;Killion, Kyle).
1-G I05 Thomas,Pierre rush up middle for 3 yards to the IND2 (Clemons, Jodie;Jones, Herana-D).
2-G I02 Beutjer,Jon pass complete to Jones,Kendrick for 2 yards to the IND0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 00:30.

Steve Weatherford: Normally you don't see a punter on the rushing statistics, but Weatherford's twelve yard run on the fake punt energized the Illini. Before that play, Illinois was down 19-0, and it looked like the team was about to roll over and play dead. The Ray Guy Award Semifinalist lit a spark under the Illini, and the next play from scrimmage was a 56-yard touchdown pass from Brad Bower to Kendrick Jones.

Brad Bower was once again replaced by Jon Beutjer under center for the Illini after Bower was pretty much ineffective running the Illini offense. Beutjer only threw six passes on Saturday afternoon, but he was effective in leading the Illini offense, mainly because of the feet of Pierre Thomas.

Comp-Att-Int Yards Touchdowns
Brad Bower 9-20-0 125 2
Jon Beutjer 3-6-0 27 1
DaJuan Warren 0-1-0 0 0
Totals 12-27-0 152 1

Brad Bower: Bower once again showed that while he was mobile, he just did not have the arm strength needed to make the throws in this offense. Even when he hit Kendrick Jones with the 56-yard pass, Kendrick had to slow down to get the ball. What Bower brings to the table with his feet, he removes from the table with his arm.

Jon Beutjer: The senior was able to come in on Senior Day and lead his team to their first Big Ten victory in fifteen games. He only threw six passes, but none was more important than his game winning lob pass to Kendrick Jones when Illinois was on the two yard line. According to Head Coach Ron Turner in the post game, the play call was a naked bootleg that would allow Jon to either run the ball into the end zone, or find an open receiver, but when Jon saw Kendrick waiving his hand in the air wide open, he quickly snapped the ball and threw it over to Kendrick for the game.

The wind was not crazy on Saturday, so the receiving and passing numbers are definitely strange when you look at them. Only five Illinois receivers caught a pass, and neither EB Halsey nor Pierre Thomas caught a pass out of the backfield, something that has been a staple in Ron Turner's offenses while he has been at Illinois.

Receptions Yards TDs Long
Kendrick Jones 5 91 2 56
Jason Davis 3 30 0 15
Melvin Bryant 2 17 1 16
DaJuan Warren 1 10 0 10
Franklin Payne 1 4 0 4
Totals 12 152 3 56

Kendrick Jones: Kendrick has once again shown that he is the go to receiver for the Illini both as a deep threat, and as a possession receiver. For his second touchdown catch of the game, he was smart enough to realize that he was wide open, but also to realize that he should not make too much of a stink about it to draw attention to him. He waived his hand, and Jon Beutjer saw him and threw a lob pass to Jones to give the Illini the lead and the win.

After the first three drives, the Illini defense settled down and played one of the better games of the season. The Illini tackling numbers were still dominated by the defensive backfield, but with one sack and four tackles for losses, the Illini defense was more opportunistic than they have been in the previous nine games of this season.

Solo Assists Total
Morris Virgil 5 2 7
Matt Sinclair 5 2 7
Justin Harrison 5 2 7
Kelvin Hayden 4 3 7
J. Leman 3 4 7
Mike Gawelek 2 5 7
Scott Moss 2 3 5
Mike O'Brien 2 3 5
Taman Jordan 1 4 5
Josh Tischer 2 2 4
Ryan Matha 0 4 4
Anthony Thornhill 1 2 3
Chris Norwell 1 1 2
Charles Bailey, Jr. 1 1 2
James Cooper 0 2 2
Bryan Schaefering 0 2 2
Alan Ball 1 0 1
Russ Weil 1 0 1
Steve Weatherford 1 0 1
Xavier Fulton 1 0 1
Joe Mele 0 1 1
Brian Brosnan 0 1 1

Kelvin Hayden: On Senior Day, the Illini senior corner back had an interception that lead to the Illini's game winning drive, and also was one of four defenders with seven tackles to lead the Illini. Kelvin also added in one pass break up in the fourth quarter. If he would have held onto the ball in that play, he probably would have scored the go-ahead touchdown himself.

Josh Tischer: Tischer recorded the Illini's only sack on Saturday afternoon.

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