Grading Illinois football’s loss to Iowa


Austin Yattoni

The Illini defense will have a new linebackers coach next season with the departure of Tim McGarigle.

By The Daily Illini sports staff

Editor’s note: The Daily Illini football writers graded each facet of the Illinois football team’s 28-0 loss to Iowa on Saturday. The Illini offense, defense, special teams and coaching were graded.

Offense: D

It was Senior Day for the Illini, so Wes Lunt and Zach Grant celebrated like they were seniors in high school again. The Rochester grads and former teammates hooked up eight times for 65 yards — Lunt had 137 passing yards total. That statline was the lone highlight for an Illini offense that could only muster 198 total yards on a windy day against the Hawkeyes. Time of possession was relatively close on both sides, but it didn’t result in any Illini points — Lunt and company were shutout for the first time this season.

Defense: C+

As has often been the case this season, the Illini defense looked strong to start off the game but without any help from the offense, it lost steam as the game wore on. Heading into halftime, the game’s only score came off an Iowa punt return, and Illinois kept the Iowa offense stagnant. With the season winding down, it looks like the young Illini have learned what it means to play a Lovie Smith defense — Dillan Cazley secured a pick in the first half, and Tre Watson stripped Akrum Wadley in Charles Tillman fashion to save a touchdown. Watson has really emerged, and piled up 15 tackles for his third straight game with double-digit takedowns.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Special Teams: C

It’s not a great sign when the punter is the one celebrating the most, and that’s how it went down for Ryan Frain and the Illini on Saturday. Frain punted eight times and did a good job pinning the Hawkeyes deep with three falling inside the Hawkeyes’ 20-yard line. One of those eight punts resulted in the first score of the game, though, when Iowa returner Riley McCarron took a kick to the house. That score gave the Hawkeyes momentum going into the half, and they wouldn’t look back.

Coaching: B

Smith made sure his seniors got their shine, which allowed Grant’s big day. Seniors Taylor Barton and Rob Bain also played way more than usual and combined for 11 tackles. It was nice to Smith paying homage to the veterans that have paved the way for younger guys to step up. The result obviously wasn’t ideal, but Smith did right by the seniors, and at this point in the season, that’s a small victory for the Illini.

[email protected]