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The Daily Illini

Stats from Illinois football’s loss to South Florida

By Gavin Good, Assistant sports editor

Penalties

Not surprisingly, with South Florida coming off a long layover due to its matchup against Connecticut being postponed and Illinois being a youthful team in its first road test, penalties played a prominent role in Friday’s game. The Illini and the Bulls were penalized a whopping 31 times. For much of the game, it appeared entirely possible, if not likely, that the two teams would break the FBS record for most penalties in a game, which was set in 1986 when San Jose State and Fresno State combined for 36 penalties. There were 26 penalties called in the first half alone, and each team got a player ejected for targeting (Stanley Green for Illinois). The other penalties consisted of a variety of offenses: eight false starts, four holding calls, three for unsportsmanlike conduct, three pass interference calls, three face masks, two offside calls and one call each for a personal foul, delay of game, illegal shift, 12 men on the field, illegal substitution and clipping. Illinois was called for 15 penalties, which totaled 138 yards, while South Florida was called on 16 penalties for 140 yards.

Rushing yards: ILL 67 yards, USF 376 yards

When you compare the two teams’ rushing statistics, they paint a lopsided picture. The Bulls ran for nearly six times as many yards as the Illini, posting 376 total rush yards compared to Illinois’ measly total of 67. The Bulls spread out the workload between their dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers, Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson. Flowers had the most carries and the most rushing production, running for 106 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. Tice rushed 12 times for 106 yards and a touchdown, while Johnson had 17 carries for 101 yards. Sophomore back Trevon Sands also had eight carries for 43 yards. Illinois was the opposite. Besides running back Mike Epstein, who had eight carries for 56 yards and broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the Illini had a dismal game on the ground. Crouch rushed for 10 yards on five carries and Ra’Von Bonner rushed twice for one yard and a touchdown, which came so late in the game that it was already out of reach for Illinois. Opening day starter Kendrick Foster was relegated to returning kickoffs. He was mildly successful on the day, returning four kicks for 92 yards.

Quarterbacks

The differences in quarterback quality were apparent at Raymond James Stadium, as Quinton Flowers went 15 for 27 for 280 yards with four touchdowns and an interception, while Chayce Crouch was pulled in favor of second string Jeff George, Jr. in the second half. Crouch was eight for 18 for a total of 76 yards, and he threw a telegraphed interception toward the end of the first quarter. Crouch continued to struggle with completing passes, and in the third quarter, Illinois swapped him for George Jr. At this point, the game was essentially already lost, but George Jr. was able to get the offense moving more effectively than Crouch. He connected on 12 of 22 passes which went for 211 yards and found Epstein in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but it did little more than make the scoreline slightly more respectable.

Receiving yards: ILL 287 yards, USF 304 yards

Receiving production was comparable for both teams, as the Bulls went for 304 total yards and the Illini posted 287. Each team’s receiving load was fairly spread out, with South Florida’s Deangelo Antoine and Marquez Valdes-Scantling each catching four passes and with Illinois’ Mike Dudek, Louis Dorsey and Ricky Smalling hauling in at least three receptions each. Antoine caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Flowers to open the scoring in the game, and Valdes-Scantling totaled 96 receiving yards and a 17-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. For Illinois, freshman Smalling led the team with 99 yards, including a 76-yard reception where he caught quick pass from George before busting the play open for the huge gain. The Bulls averaged 17.9 yards per reception while the Illini averaged 14.4, although that number is boosted by Smalling’s big play.

Time of Possession: ILL 21:43 USF- 38:17

South Florida never trailed Illinois, and was firmly in control of the game for the entire second half. The Bulls offense almost doubled up Illinois in time of possession, holding the ball for 38 minutes and 17 seconds of the contest, while Illinois had 21 minutes and 43 seconds of possession. The Bulls kept moving the chains and forcing the Illini defense to stay on the field, posting 38 first downs compared to the Illini’s 15. South Florida also was efficient on third down, converting on 12 of 18 third downs, while Illinois only was able to convert on six of 15 third downs.

Injuries

There weren’t many injuries for Illinois this time out, but freshman starting lineman Larry Boyd had to be helped off the field in the third quarter with what appeared to be an injury to his left leg. Boyd going down could continue to force the offensive line to keep rotating players, as there were already shifts that had to be made with starting center Doug Kramer’s injury from the Ball State game. Smith said in his postgame presser that he thinks the injury is not too serious of a problem. “(There is) concern every time a player can’t finish a game, but we think he’ll be okay,” Smith said.

Quote of the game

“We didn’t play our best football tonight, no more than that,” Smith said. “So whatever you want to say about a bad game tonight, say that tonight. We’ll play better next week; we’re a better football team.”

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