Game Analysis - Illinois

Washington got off to a bit of a slow start in the first half, but their defense was up to the task as the Huskies held Illinios to just three points and 96 yards of offense, but the second half was all about offense as both teams made big plays, but UW came away with their first road win, outside of the conference, since 2007, downing the Illini 34-24 at Soldier Field in Chicago...

Turning Point/Play of the Game (Part 1): Facing 2nd and 18 from their own 34 and trying to stem the tide of a surging Illini team that had scored on its previous two possessions, QB Keith Price dropped back to pass and was unable to find anyone open down the field. Instead, he checked it down to RB Bishop Sankey who caught the ball five yards past the line of scrimmage and then proceeded to make four defenders miss and gained another 14 yards to give Washington a first down. That allowed the Huskies to eat more of the clock and drive down to the Illinois 14 where they wound up settling for a 32-yard Travis Coons field goal, bringing the score to 34-24 with 4:44 left in the game.

Turning Point/Play of the Game (Part 2): Illinois tried a little razzle dazzle the on their next possession as QB Nathan Scheelhaase handed ball off to RB Josh Ferguson who then pulled up and threw it to Scheelhaase. DE Josh Shirley, who played one of his best games since arriving at Montlake, pressured the quarterback who threw a wobbly pass deep that was intercepted by Greg Ducre, essentially giving the game to the Huskies who went on to win 34-24.

Turning Point/Play of the Game (Part 3): Normally we wouldn't include a third turning point, but in this case, you have to acknowledge what the entire third quarter wound up meaning to the final result of the game. The Huskies took the second half kickoff and rumbled 75 yard in seven plays, all runs, with Sankey going over from one yard out to put Washington up 17-3 quickly. Their next possession saw the Dawgs go 85 yards in 10 plays with RB Jesse Callier, seeing his first extended playing time of the season, taking a handoff 39 yards for a touchdown. Their third drive of the quarter went 78 yards in five plays with WR Jaydon Mickens breaking a tackle and outracing the rest of the Illini defense to the endzone for a nine-yard touchdown reception, giving the Huskies a 31-10 lead. While Illinois made the score close as the offense went a bit dormant in the fourth quarter, those drives wore down the Illini and also put a lot of pressure on their offense to score every time they had the ball.

Offensive Player of the Game: Sankey had a huge game for the Huskies, totaling 208 yards and a touchdown on the ground and hauling in three receptions for 63 yards and another score. He also kept the chains moving with key runs down the stretch, allowing the Huskies to keep the chains and the clock moving.

Defensive Player of the Game: Shirley had a huge game for the defense, totaling seven tackles and four sacks and generally being a real nuisance to Scheelhaase in the backfield. He also pressured the senior quarterback on his final throw and that resulted in a wobbler that was intercepted by Ducre.

Key Stat: Washington totaled 615 yards of offense to Illinois' 327. Illinois had averaged over 490 yards in their first two games, both wins. Scheelhaase had also thrown for nearly 800 yards in those two games, but he was held to just 156 through the air, 78 of which came on one play, and he completed just nine of his 25 attempts.

Handouts to the Standouts: The offensive line played well, keeping Price upright for most of the game (he was sacked three times on the day, but two of those were him running into the pressure) and they paved the way for 273 yards rushing and two touchdowns as Sankey and Callier combined for 274 yards and two scores on 41 carries; Price managed to throw for 342 yards and two scores while hitting on 28 of his 35 attempts, but even more importantly, he took care of the football and had no fumbles or interceptions; Callier's 39-yard touchdown was a huge play in the game and he too kept the chains moving when Sankey came out for a breather; Kevin Smith continues to shine two games in the season as he made the most of his opportunities, hauling in five receptions for 104 yards including a 39-yarder in traffic setting up Washington's second score of the game, a 23-yard field goal by Coons, shortly before the end of the first half; While he was beaten for the 78-yard touchdown, Ducre played solid in coverage and also had a tackle and the interception to seal the game; LB Princeton Fuimaono led the Huskies with nine tackles on the day; Sean Parker totaled seven tackles and had a touchdown-saving tackle on a flea-flicker, although Illinois would score later in the drive; Cory Littleton had four tackles and a sack on the day and, like Shirley, spent a lot of time in the Illinois backfield; Danny Shelton had five tackles from his nose tackle position.

Top Unit: The offensive line again played very well, paving the way for 273 yards on the ground and, aside from a few plays, keeping the Illini pass-rushers at bay.

Needs Work: It's becoming a trend for us to say this in this section of our Game Analysis, but it can't be overstated how much penalties killed Washington's offensive momentum and gave Illinois new life when they had the ball. The Huskies finished with 12 penalties for 104 yards and at least two gave Illinois first downs on offense and three more killed big plays for the Washington offense. This cannot continue to happen if Washington wants to beat the teams they play the rest of the season who are much better than Boise State and Illinois.


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