Game Analysis - Illinois

For the first time this season, Washington played a full 60 minutes of football and, aside from a handful of miscues, they played one of their most complete games in recent memory while handing Illinois a 44-19 defeat before a crowd of 62,325 at Husky Stadium...

Turning Point/Play of the Game - Washington pretty much dominated from the opening kickoff, but the play that really made sure that everyone knew who was going to win this game rather easily was Shaquille Thompson's pick six to give Washington a 21-3 lead. Facing 3rd-and-9 from his own 26, Illinois QB Wes Lunt dropped back and threw the ball directly to Thompson who then easily outraced the Illinois players to the endzone drawing cheers from both the fans in the stands and his teammates and coaches.

Offensive Player of the Game: QB Cyler Miles had an efficient game going 15 of 20 for 191 yards with a touchdown and he also had 64 yards rushing. Miles connected with John Ross on a 75-yard touchdown pass for Washington's second score in a picture-perfect hook up that allowed the sophomore wideout to haul the ball in full stride and gallop to the endzone, putting Washington up 14-3.

Defensive Player of the Game: Some might disagree, but I felt that, at least overall, Hauoli Kikaha was the best player for the Huskies on defense today. People questioned how the Huskies decided to use their best pass-rusher in last week's 59-52 shootout. Those questions were silenced against Illinois as the defensive coaches decided to send him to rush the quarterback on a regular basis and he finished with a team-high six tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and three sacks. He also chipped in a key fumble recovery early in the 3rd quarter, halting an Illinois drive that threatened to get the Illini within striking distance of the Dawgs.

Handouts to the standouts: Shaquille Thompson definitely had a big impact posting a pick six and a fumble recovery that he took back 52-yards for another score. He also had four tackles on the day; DE Andrew Hudson had five tackles and two tackles-for-loss, but it was his sack and forced fumble on Illinois QB Wes Lunt that was then picked up by Thompson and returned for a score that was his biggest play; RB Dwayne Washington led the team with 58 yards and a touchdown; Ross only had two catches, but one of them was the 75-yarder that he took to the house. The talented sophomore also was a big threat as the main kick-returner, bringing the opening kickoff back 54 yards. He also had a kickoff he brought back for a touchdown that was called back due to a needless block in the back penalty; Dante Pettis looked solid returning punts averaging 12 yards per return including one that he took back 26 yards giving Washington good field position late in the game; Jaydon Mickens entered the game with just two catches to his name. The talented junior wideout finished the day with five receptions for 75 yards and he also took a hand off and went nine yards; For the most part, considering they were missing one of the leaders as Ben Riva had to sit out the game with a lingering leg injury, the offensive line performed admirably. They kept Miles upright for most of the day and they also opened paved the way for 245 yards on the ground.

Stat of the Game: Washington's defense held the Illini to just 1 of 11 on their third down conversions. That's made even more amazing when you realize that Illinois' passing offense was considered to be dangerous. The Huskies held their guests to just 279 yards through the air.

Needs work: Yes, Illinois had 11 penalties, but the Huskies still managed to get flagged eight times on their own for a total of 73 yards. One brought back a kickoff return for a touchdown and three others handicapped a drive that stalled in Illinois territory. Another thing to focus on is the coverage by the corners who got burned twice for long plays that resulted in touchdowns.

Bottom Line: This a nice solid win for the Huskies. The fanbase saw the players start to play a little more freely and, over the past couple of weeks, the coaches seem to have learned how they want to use certain players. Overall, this team looked much more loose, much more focused and they took advantage of the opportunities they created. Now the team needs to build off of this game and press on toward conference play, following their final tune-up vs. Georgia State, where they will have a Chance Early on to determine their fate with a game against Stanford on September 27th.


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