Sunday, November 01, 2009

Signs of Life!

Thank you, Terry Hawthorne.
Thank you D-line.
Thank you Juice. Thank you LeShoure. Thank you O-line. And Benn. And Ford. And Cumberland. And the rest of the team. And Tate Forcier's slippery hands. Oh, and instant replay and the play review system.

The Illini showed signs of life at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. And the Michigan Wolverines left the stadium with an L for the first time in a long, long time. (I could go into the game they stole in 2000, but that would just irritate me, so I'll focus on this season.)

Juice and his O-line proved they could still cruise down the field with a strong opening drive. The problem was that Michigan immediately answered. And then the offense stalled. The D did reasonably well, managing to hold Tate Foricer and company to a couple fields goals.

But it really wasn't looking good in the third quarter when Roy Roundtree took off down the middle of the field after out-running the Illini coverage. Signs of life seemed to be non-existant. Except for a freshman in the secondary who refused to give up on the play. Hawthorne drug Roundtree down from behind. On the 1.

And then the Illini D put together a stand like they hadn't had all season. 1st and goal. No gain. 2nd and goal. No gain. 3rd and goal. A bit closer to the end zone. 4th and goal. Down just inches from the goal line.

The Illini offense took this performance to heart and went on to score. A few times. While the D prevented further scores, with a bit of invaluable help from Michigan turnovers.

The offense on the first drive and after "The Stand" is what we had hoped to see all season. But I'm very glad it showed up, especially for one of our favority Big Ten foes. Program rebuilding aside, it's always sweet to get a win over Michigan.

We really didn't know what we would have with the defense, especially with the critical losses of key players. But the D that showed up yesterday was impressive. Yes, they needed the help of the review system, but they had the "indisputable video evidence" needed to prove they could stand.

And so, just like Terry Hawthorne refused to give up on the play, I refuse to give up on the program. This year hasn't been pretty. And who knows what next season will bring or what changes will be needed. But signs of life like we saw yesterday are encouraging.

Boys, please use this as a turning point for the season.
Go Illini!

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