Monday, October 27, 2008

Opportunity Lost

The Illini played ok on Saturday. It's an every-other-week thing right now. Sometimes they are on, energy is high and the opponents better look out. The next week, they are flat and make mistakes that cost the game. And Coach Zook is not happy about it.

The Illini have shown so much promise at times this season. And we saw glimpses of greatness on Saturday. Especially from Brit Miller. He recorded 16 tackles, including 13 solo tackles, 2 stops for a loss and 3 pass breakups (one that was nearly an interception). Juice also showcased his ability to move the Illini down the field, with his wide receivers making plays. He passed for 221 yards, well below his average, but the Illini had every opportunity to maintain control. Hoomanawanui had a spectacular one-handed catch. Benn made great plays, as expected.

But the Illini have also shown so much disappointment, mostly in the form of mistakes that allowed opportunities to slip past the Illini. Juice has improved overall this year, but not so much on Saturday. Three interceptions was more than the Illini could recover from. And so many penalties...

But give the cornered Badgers credit. Vast improvement by Wisconsin QB Dustin Sherer in his second start resulted in quite a few clutch plays that kept them alive. Their defense made plays, and their offense took advantage. This may have been a "mercy victory" as one Badger fan told me, but Bret and his team fought hard for it.

The Illini had opportunity, but couldn't capitalize. As the team endures a tough week of practice, as promised by their coach, let's hope they show fire against the Hawkeyes next week...


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