Saturday, October 31, 2009

Signs of Life?

Will the Illini football team show any signs of life against Michigan this afternoon? We can certainly hope. Michigan has had a rocky season, but they've had a few more bright moments than the Illini. But any home game is a chance to prove there's a spark left in the Illini...I hope they can find it...


Monday, October 19, 2009

In Other Illini News



Words fail me. I am very, very sad for the Illini players that have worked hard and just can't get this season back under control. This is definitely not what anyone expected from this season.

The game itself was indeed ugly. Missed tackles. Missed field goals. Turnovers. There were some impressive catches on both sides of the field, but bright spots were few and far between, especially for the Illini.

It will be very interesting to see what next year brings...


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Indiana Preview

Not easy to dig into today's Illini football matchup. Indiana is traditionally not a football school, and typically it's a good place to get a conference road win.

The Hoosiers were destroyed at Virginia last week (not impressive), but the Illini haven't been impressive all season. Indiana had a strong road loss at Michigan early in the conference season. In fact, a poor call by the referees may have cost the Hoosiers that game.

What does that mean for today? Who knows. I'll try to be optimistic that it could be an evenly matched, if somewhat ugly, game. Probably won't be widely watched, and that's understandable. But this could be an opportunity for the Illini to show off some of their offensive talent...I hope.

Go Illini.



Record Spiked

The #10 Illini volleyball team beat #6 Minnesota in front of a school-record crowd at the Assmebly Hall last night. The Illini are now alone in second in the Big Ten, behind #1 Penn State. If you need a break from the NFL tomorrow, check out the match on the Big Ten Network, 5 pm Central...


Friday, October 16, 2009

Assembly Hall Action

Tonight the #10 Illini women's volleyball team will attempt to set an attendance record as they host #6 Minnesota tonight at Assembly Hall. And the match will be immediately followed by the kickoff of the basketball season with Illini Madness.

So if you are in the area, seriously think about heading to Assembly Hall. That will be much warmer than the high school football game I'm planning to check out...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dig This

The 2009 Fighting Illini women's volleyball team showed off their heart and toughness in a come-from-behind win over Purdue last Friday. The match, televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, showed the Illini trailing the Boilers 2-1 before coming back to win the last two sets to take the match.

This week the Illini are ranked #10, and continue play in the Big Ten, which boasts 3 top-ten teams (Penn State #1, Minnesota #6).

And if you can catch a game, you should. These girls are fun to watch.

Junior Laura DeBruler can hit, and she is one of the team leaders. Johannah Bangert, also a junior, leads the Big Ten in blocks. Senior defensive specialist Ashley Edinger seems to dig out just about anything, and the entire team, although not as tall as some opponents, works really well together.

Head Coach Kevin Hambly is in his first year, taking over a strong program from Don Hardin, who spent 13 years building Illini volleyball. Hambly and his girls looked poised for a strong showing in the Big Ten.

And they definitely give Illini fans a team that's easy to cheer for. Their Wednesday match against Northwestern will be on the Big Ten Network. Seriously, check it out.

Go Illini!

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Maybe Not

The Eddie McGee at QB endeavor lasted two+ quarters on Saturday. And then Juice returned and helped prevent the Illini from getting shut out on Homecoming. And the D showed up in the second half, as well.

Yes, I watched the game (though not live), and I realize there weren't many highlights. But just to make me feel better, I'm going to list some of them:

I realize I'm stretching, but I do feel a bit better now.

But the Illini still have us scratching our heads and wondering what happened to our team. The defense was porous in the first half. Are they missing the middle linebacker leadership? Martez Wilson was supposed to fill the whole left by J Leman and then Brit Miller, but he's out for the season.

The offense has lots of weapons, but they don't seem to be firing until late in the game (but at least the scores won't look quite so bad years from now). Eddie McGee looked rougher than I expected in the first half. His accuracy left a lot to be desired. But not all the incompletions where his fault. McGee did make Juice look better though. But there were still more 3-and-outs than an offense with this talent should have.

And the penalties...I don't have the energy to detail how they hurt. But they do.

Next up? Indiana. They looked great at Michigan a few weeks ago (and they got a bum call), but they didn't look so great at Virginia last week.



Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Start(er)?

The Illini are kicking off against Michigan State for Homecoming today with a new starter under center. Will the change from Juice Williams to Eddie McGee be enough to give the Illini a new start on the disappointing season? Maybe, but Michigan State is coming off a victory over in-state rival Michigan. Their confidence is high, and they've been playing very well.

The move to Eddie could energize the Illini, who clearly need something to try to stop the "free fall" that started with the dismal showing against Mizzou. But with the leadership that Juice provided in the off-season, I don't know if the change on the field will be enough.

The Illini have been confounding this season. They have so many solid pieces that should fit together to create a solid Big Ten football team. But for some reason, those pieces -- a talented QB, gifted wide receivers and diverse running game -- haven't fit together to put points on the board. We knew defense would be a question, and the loss of Martez Wilson hurt. And special teams have been an "adventure" in recent years.

Of course, the Illini have faced some of the top Big Ten teams at the beginning of the conference season. But that's not an excuse. Let's hope it's motivation for a stronger showing as the season wears on.

As for the Spartans, it will be a tough Homecoming game. Let's see what Eddie and the Illini can do...

Go Illini!

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009


My apologies for the lack of activity here the past week. Yes, the Ohio State game was depressing. Yes, the Penn State game was also depressing. But my lack of Internet connection, combined with multiple fall weddings, is to blame for the quiet on Illinitalk. (It's still not please be patient...)

So the Illini are really struggling. And the biggest challenge is themselves. At any sign of momentum, they often do something on their own to stop it.

However, as I’ve said in the past, true fans support their team. No matter what.

So it was nice to see a little activity on offense during the Penn State game, including a bit of production from the Florida transfer. And despite the major losses to injury on defense, they are holding better than they could (or maybe my expectations are just really low). And Memorial Stadium looks really good in Illini orange.

Changes are necessary, and the coaching staff finally seems to be willing to make some big ones. Let's hope they make a difference against Michigan State this weekend. However, the Spartans are looking pretty good this year...

Yes, it looks at this point to be a long football season. But I'll say it anyway...go Illini!



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