Hicks, Davis lead defense to 36-19 victory in spring scrimmage

By Daniel Johnson

In its second scrimmage of the year, the Illinois defense had another stellar day, recording two sacks, 12 tackles for losses, seven broken up passes and three interceptions.

For the second consecutive week, the Illini defense “won” thanks to a 36-19 advantage over the offense.

Cornerbacks Dere Hicks and Vontae Davis were the playmakers for the Illini, with two interceptions and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, respectively.

“It something that I have a knack for doing,” Davis said about the special teams play. “It’s part of competing and getting better amongst ourselves.”

But a great defensive effort in a game like this meant a poor offensive showing. The Illini passing game had a hard time putting together sustained drives, with their longest drive going for 11 plays and a Michael Cklamovski 32-field goal.

Juice Williams was 13 of 29 passing for 142 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions; Eddie McGee was 10 of 20 for 95 yards for one touchdown and one interception.

The Illini running game had a noticeably different look without Rashard Mendenhall. Daniel Dufrene, Mikel LeShoure and converted defensive back Darius Purcell combined for 43 yards on 23 carries for two touchdowns. Each had a long carry of six yards. McGee produced Illinois’ longest run of the day, a 57-yard touchdown.

“I see that we’re going to have to find somebody,” offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said about the running back situation. “That’s probably been the biggest disappointment thus far in the spring. We expect someone to be able to step up; right now that’s probably the biggest concern for me from an offensive standpoint.”