Illinois Offense: Coach Ron Turner has had an itchy trigger finger with his starting quarterbacks, and it has not allowed them to get into a proper rhythm. Regular starter Jon Beutjer has not gotten the job done, as he has 1055 yards on the year, with a 57.1% passer rating, but has only thrown seven touchdowns compared to four interceptions. Bower should see some time in the game, as Beutjer is a senior, and the Illini's hopes for the postseason are pretty much gone. Brad Bower has been decent so far this year, with a 60 percent completion rating and 533 yards through the air. The problem is however, that Bower doesn't make the best of decisions, and has thrown three interceptions to his two touchdown passes. The running game is also split between a pair of strong horses. Pierre Thomas and EB Halsey have been splitting the time in the backfield, and both have been reasonably effective. Between the two and the others on the team, the Illini are averaging just over 150 yards per game on the ground. The 343 yards of total offense per game has not gotten the job done for Illinois so far, as they are 2-7 on the year. Kendrick Jones has been the best receiver with an average of 54 yards per game, and 40 total catches. His 574 total yards double the next receiver on the Fighting Illini. This is not an offense that can route a team, but if their quarterbacks can get the ball moving, then Jones can make a good play, and the running backs will get some room.
Illinois Defense: The defense has been one of the major weaknesses for Illinois, and the bad part for the Fighting Illini fans? They are as bad against the pass as they are against the run. They run defense was among the worst in the country last year, and is not much better this year. They allow almost 5 yards per rush and over 200 yards per game. They have allowed two rushing touchdowns per game on average. It doesn't get any better in the passing game, as they are also allowing two passing touchdowns per game. Opponents are averaging 65% passing completion against their secondary, which allows 232 yards per game. Put it together and you have a team who allows over 400 yards per game, and won't be stopping too many offenses. Opponents are averaging a 48% completion percentage on 3rd down, which doesn't hold well for their scoreboard.
Illinois Special Teams: The special teams at Illinois is average in the kicking game and the kick returning game. They have an excellent punter in Steve Weatherford Jr, who is averaging 44 yards per punt. The field goal game is a little lacking, as Jason Reda has been struggling this year. Reda is 7-11, but usually only kicks on short yardage field goals. Weatherford handles the long distance kicking, but is only 1-3 on the year. Pierre Thomas is handling the kick return game, and has a 99 yard touchdown runback already this year. EB Halsey is returning the punts, and is averaging around 10 yards, but does not have a touchdown on the year. The special teams will not win games for Illinois, but they won't lose any for them either.
That recaps Illinois in a capsule. They are 2-7 on the year, and out of the race for a bowl this year. They are 0-6 in the Big Ten, tied for the basement with Penn State.
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