Illinois football out energized by Western Michigan
September 18, 2016
In Illinois football’s 34-10 loss Saturday, it seemed that opposing coach P.J. Fleck had more energy than many of the Illini.
The Western Michigan head coach could be seen sprinting up his sidelines at quarters’ end and running to the locker room at halftime.
According to some, he even got into sprint formation in the visiting locker room and jumped into his team’s waiting arms.
The man had energy, his team bought in and the Illini could never catch up.
Illinois was the underdog coming into this game, and Vegas got it right.
I can’t say things go right there often, but the bookies know their stuff.
After covering this team for three years, these types of losses shouldn’t be surprising, but more so just frustrating.
Illinois’ 52-3 blowout against Murray State was decisive setting a winning tone for head coach Lovie Smith’s Illini debut.
Yet then the team’s next outing against North Carolina was completely opposite, but more like the Illinois football team fans are familiar with.
This time, the score went in the opposing team’s favor. Illinois kept it close most of the game, but let the score slip late in the game to 48-23.
The game this week was supposed to be the Illini’s final win before a tough Big Ten schedule. They paid a decent amount of money to Western Michigan to have a relatively harmless game before conference play.
But Western Michigan, coming off another Big Ten win against Northwestern, wasn’t going to let the Illini win easily.
The Illini and the Broncos went back and forth for most of the first quarter, keeping the score at zero.
But like in past years, once the Broncos got going, the Illini could not keep up.
Illinois gave up big plays and let penalties spiral again, even after racking up 13 penalties for 99 yards last week.
Western Michigan put up 21 unanswered points in less than 10 minutes between the end of the first and start of the second quarter.
One of the touchdowns was the result of a questionable called fumble from quarterback Wes Lunt. This was one of the rare instances that Lovie showed visible anger, clearly upset with the call.
From such a calm coach, it was refreshing to see him get mad in a game where Illinois could not get it right.
Illinois isn’t going to get the type of energy that Fleck has. Lovie won’t be running up and down the sidelines in any foreseeable future.
But the Illini need to find some type of life as they head into their first bye week before the start of Big Ten play.
Charlotte is a senior in Media.