Wilson leads Illini defense against Indiana

It was another week, another award for the Illini defense.

This time it was cornerback Tavon Wilson, who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Indiana. The senior led the Illini on Saturday with 11 tackles, including three and a half for a loss and a sack. Wilson also recovered a fumble and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown after a sack by defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

“Whitney got a great get-off and I think he got the ball out,” Wilson said of his touchdown play. “I just picked it up and scored. There was nobody there. If there were a lot of people around I would have just fell on it, but there was nobody there so I just picked it up and scored.”

And while Wilson was the one to earn the recognition, bandit Michael Buchanan said the entire secondary has been playing well recently and is a large reason that he and Mercilus are the top two in sacks in the Big Ten.

“I credit our secondary,” Buchanan said. “Our secondary has been playing great, making the quarterback pat the ball and it’s been giving us an opportunity to get to the quarterback. I give our secondary all the credit.”

*Running attack back on track *

A.J. Jenkins can thank Jason Ford, Troy Pollard and Donovonn Young for helping him reach his second game in a row with more than 150 yards receiving.

“We ran for 300 yards,” offensive coordinator Petrino said. “If you can run for 300 yards, they can’t do both. They can’t double (Jenkins) and pack the box, so you got to do one or the other.”

After the Illini ran for 82 yards against Northwestern last week, Illinois head coach Ron Zook said the team would go back to the basics in practice. Illinois caught the right team at the right time. Indiana ranks last in the Big Ten in rush defense, allowing 210 yards per game.

“It was great to see all three running backs, and I think they should all come out of this game with great confidence,” Petrino said. “All three of them ran hard, ran good. Our offensive line blocked. We should have scored more in the second half, but we ran the ball well in the second half. To be a champion you have to be able to run the ball.”

Against the Wildcats, senior running back Jason Ford totaled seven carries for nine yards. On Saturday against the Hoosiers, he finished with 55 yards and a touchdown. Troy Pollard led the rushing attack this week with 92 yards, and freshman Donovonn Young added 73 yards, his fourth game averaging more than six yards per carry.

“We had 300 rushing?” senior tackle Jeff Allen said. “That’s good. How much credit do we get? We get as much as we deserve. We had 300 yards rushing, I think that’s a pretty good day for us, so I think we deserve a bit of credit. Everyone did their job (Saturday), so I’d say it was a full team effort.”