Grading the Illinois football team following its loss to Ohio State
November 15, 2015
The Illinois offense mustered only a field goal in its 28-3 loss to defending national champions No. 2 Ohio State. Quarterback Wes Lunt said there was some miscommunication on certain plays.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn sat out the second half with a concussion and Josh Ferguson tired out in the fourth quarter: not good for a rushing game with virtually no depth beyond the starters. Cameron Tucker came in, touched the ball twice and failed to get anything going on the run game. Lunt passed for 241 yards, but said it was just an okay performance — he was more concerned about the final score.
The offense relied on the defense to keep the game close. Though Illinois had the ball for only about 10 minutes fewer than Ohio State, it seemed as if the offense was constantly running off the field to be bailed out by the defense.
The Illini defense was the bright spot in the loss, keeping Illinois in the game well into the second half, allowing just 14 points in the first half.
Clayton Fejedelem led the defense with 15 total tackles. Mason Monheim followed with 12 total tackles and one TFL. Illinois had one interception from Caleb Day and a fumble recovery from Duwaune Smoot.
The defense came out playing strong and held Ohio State to a field goal attempt which the team missed in its opening drive. They were able to put pressure on quarterback J.T. Barrett, but struggled in the second half containing running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliot finished with 186 on 27 carries and two touchdowns
Special Teams D+
Not only did the Buckeyes have fantastic field position throughout the entire game, but the Illinois’ special teams gave up two turnovers.
In the fourth quarter, V’Angelo Bentley muffed the punt and fumbled. Ohio State took over the ball on Illinois’ 10-yard line and scored a touchdown off Elliott on the first play.
Ryan Frain fumbled the ball trying to save a field goal attempt after a bad snap.
Taylor Zalewski made and missed a field goal apiece. He nailed a 46-yarder, but then hit a 50-yard attempt off the right goal post.
Head coach Bill Cubit just does not have the players to make great decisions with. Half of his offense is on the injured list and he struggled making alterations to his offense with so many players sidelined.
He clearly cares about his players — he made his emotion evident after the game — but has struggled with making game-time decisions. He did use his timeouts in this game appropriately, which has been a problem in the past.
The post game press conference was filled with questions about keeping the head job after the season ends. When asked about whether he’s the right man for the job, he had a simple response.
“There is no doubt in my mind.”
He definitely loves this team, but his job prospects and this season’s legacy will come down to the last two games.