Illini offensive scheme too much for Nittany Lions

“We got the crap kicked out of us,” Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno said. “On the line of scrimmage, they kicked our rears. The linebackers, you’d have thought they’d never seen a pass before.”

And while Paterno said the coaching staff was to blame for his team’s defensive breakdown, Penn State safety Drew Astorino gave credit to Illinois for both its playcalling and execution.

“They did a good job with just curls, crossing routes, stuff like that, underneath stuff. That’s tough to defend,” Astorino said.

“They run the triple option, which is tough to stop. Everybody has to be on their game. They were just hitting holes, they were making plays. They were pushing us around, basically,” he added.

Astorino was also impressed by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The redshirt freshman threw for 151 yards and a touchdown on 15 of 19 passing and added 61 yards rushing on eight carries despite playing in his first true road game in college football’s second-largest stadium.

“He’s a good quarterback … He scrambled a couple times for the first down. He was throwing the underneath stuff well,” Astorino said. “He’s tough to stop. He’s good.”

Koenning still planning on working defense hard

Saturday’s game marked one of the best defensive efforts for the Illinois this season. The Illini gave up just seven first downs and 235 yards of total offense, 80 of which came on one play, and even added a touchdown of their own after Nate Bussey tipped and intercepted a pass before running it in from 16 yards.

However, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said he doesn’t plan on letting the defense get complacent.

“I’m probably gonna pull a Belichick and probably serve humble pie on Monday,” Koenning said, in reference to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. “We just gotta keep working hard and do the best we can. We still got a lot of improvement to do, and we know we’re going to have to get better for the next game.”

After Saturday’s effort, the Illini defense ranks 21st in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 17 points per game.

Ramsey upbeat after return miscues

One of the few low spots for Illinois on Saturday was return man Jack Ramsey. The sophomore gave the Illini a scare on the opening kickoff by fumbling the ball as he was hit at the 20-yard line. However, the Illini were able to recover the fumble.

But Ramsey’s day only got worse from there, as he fumbled two more punts, both of which were recovered by Penn State inside of the Illinois 25-yard line and converted into field goals by the Nittany Lions.

Despite the struggles, Ramsey was still confident in his abilities after the game.

“Overall, I struggled today, but I gotta bounce back from that,” Ramsey said. “It was just one of them days.”

Even though Ramsey was replaced by Jarred Fayson in the second half, Illinois head coach Ron Zook said Ramsey is still his punt returner going forward.

“Mentally, it messes with you, but Jack will be fine,” Zook said. “He did some things last week (against Ohio State) where it was incredible how he caught the ball with people in his face. So he’ll go back and he’ll work on it and he’ll be fine.”