Three Little Penalties October 3, 2010
We lost by 11. To the #2 team in the country. They averaged 508 yards on offense coming in – we held them to 290. Normally, I’d be ecstatic. But even this morning, I can’t seem to get past…
- Ohio State ties the game with a touchdown pass to Saine, but wait – Illinois blocks the extra point. BUT WAIT – Illinois called for defensive holding, Ohio State re-kicks, makes it. 1 point.
- Illinois is driving in the second quarter, but AJ Jenkins jumps before the snap, pushing us back 5 yards. Two plays later, Derek Dimke’s field goal attempt into the wind comes up 2 yards short. Without the penalty, that’s 3 points.
- Ohio State has third and one from our 44 with 4 minutes to go. Corey Liuget gets his beastly self in the hole, and Dan Herron is stopped short of the first down. Ohio State has to punBUT WAIT. Justin Green lined up offsides. Ohio State doesn’t punt, scores a touchdown 4 plays later, and ices the game away with those 7 points.
1 + 3 + 7 = 11 points. Three little penalties, eleven gigantic points. Liuget doesn’t hold, Jenkins doesn’t jump, Green looks in at the ball… 11 points. We’re going to overtime. Better yet, we’re getting into field goal range after the Ohio State punt with four minutes to go.
Yes, I know. We’ll never know if Dimke would have made the 36-yard field goal instead of the 41-yard field goal because he never kicked the 36 yarder. And what if Jack Ramsey muffed that Ohio State punt and they recovered it in the endzone and got their 7 points anyway. Yes, it all falls under the category of “we’ll never know”.
But that’s not helping this Sunday morning funk. Don’t hold… don’t jump… don’t line up wrong – tie game. That’s all I can see this morning. And when you throw in the rest of our penalties (Nate Bussey’s love for the facemask, Jack Ramsey’s love for the shove), I can’t help but think that we could have won this game. At home. Against the #2 team in the country. A year after going 3-9, including a 30-0 shut-out at the hands of this same team. They weren’t who I thought they were – and we let ‘em off the hook.
+ Have I mentioned before that I think this will be a pretty good defense in 2011? I have? Let me amend. This is a pretty good defense right now. And I think it can be a fantastic defense next year. Lose Nurse, Bussey, and Bellamy, plug in Whitney the Mercilus, Ashante Williams, and Black Cat (that plug-in hopefully happens next week), and go finish top 10 in the country in total defense for 2011. I totally realize I’m getting ahead of myself. I totally don’t care. Long Live Vic Koenning.
+ So happy for Jarred Fayson to have a breakout game. 8 catches for 83 yards, a great play on special teams to pin Ohio State at the 1, and even 1-1 passing for 23 yards. Best of all, no drops. In the past, Fayson seemed to drop one ball and then disappear. Yesterday, he was the go-to guy we were all hoping he’d be when he transferred.
+ The kick the field goal/go for it on 4th down decision. Here’s why I’m in the go-for-it camp.
- We were down 7. Kick a field goal… and you still need a touchdown. Trailing by 6, maybe I kick it. Trailing by 7, no.
- The odds of getting to the Ohio State 13 yard line again are slim. Yes, we thought the D could get us the ball back. But would we be able to do anything with it once we did? We’re 13 yards away – try to punch it in.
- Life doesn’t hand you many 13-yards-away-from-tying-#2 opportunities. Find your best redzone play and give it all you’ve got.
+ Interceptions! Two of them! If you’ve been wondering why we have a guy with linebacker speed at safety, there’s your answer. Trulon showed good ball instincts last spring, in Rantoul, and yesterday. Truth be told, when I look at next year’s defense, I’m still thinking we might see Trulon move into Nate Bussey’s spot at SAM linebacker while Supo Sanni (or STEVEHULL) takes over at safety.
+ One stunning non-Illini stat I saw this morning: Denard Robinson has more rushing yards than 91 TEAMS (including Illinois, which has the #13 rusher in the country). Oh, and he’s a quarterback. Just mind boggling statistics (see also: Michigan’s defense).
+ It probably wasn’t as evident on television yesterday as it was in person – and watching the tape when I got home, I was surprised how little the announcers mentioned it – but the wind was a huge factor. So much so that Jim Tressel basically conceded the last 5 minutes of the third quarter. Yes, he’s normally conservative, but Ohio State started waiting for the play clock to run down to 2 before snapping the ball to run some clock. Some third quarter clock. As soon as the 4th quarter began, they stopped the stalling.
+ While we’re talking about the wind, Anthony Santella’s punt in the second quarter was easily the best punt of his career. Standing on his own goal line, punting into the teeth of a wind that had given us a fair catch at the Ohio State 36 earlier in the game, Santella boots it all the way to the Ohio State 39. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if Santella was kicking that with the wind, the ball would have carried 85 yards in the air.
+ I’ll leave this last one up to you. Finish this sentence. Corey Liuget is the best defensive tackle at the University of Illinois since ____ _______.