Check the Tape (Basketball Edition) – Michigan

With 11:23 left in the second half, the Fighting Illini had a 13 point lead over the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. It was looking like the Illini were going to spoil Jim Harbaugh’s Homecoming to Ann Arbor and leave Crisler Arena 1-0 in the Big Ten. But we know that is not what happened. But what did happen?

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Check The Tape – Penn State

What is wrong with the human mind/body that you can still get nervous when watching a field goal that you already know goes in? How is the brain able to convince itself that it might not happen? I’m watching Reisner line up and my heart is racing watching the tape. The brain is weird. Wait, I know – Illinois football has done this to me. [Read more…]

Check The Tape – Iowa

As painful as any post I’ve written in years. This tape is so hard to watch. 3 point underdogs, at home, first crowd of 50,000+, a team that just lost to a team we beat (giving up 51 points in doing so), and then THAT. [Read more…]

Check The Tape – Minnesota

Look, this might have been Minnesota’s worst game of the year and our best game – this might have been Michigan 2009 – and the rest of the season will be miserable. I get that. Still, I can’t help but walk into work on Monday morning and bask in “I saw you beat #24” from my Mississippi State coworker who is currently celebrating his dream season. Wins are never not fun. [Read more…]

Check The Tape – Wisconsin

Can I just bury this here in the Check The Tape post?  The Gray Ghost uniforms we’ll be wearing against Minnesota in two weeks?  I’m trying so hard to be excited about them.  But I just can’t find it inside.  A direct reference to Red Grange should be something I send to everyone I know.  But this whole “lost 24 of the last 25 Big Ten games” thing is an emotional anchor.  The Purdue loss destroyed so much of my Illini Football soul. [Read more…]

Check The Tape – Purdue

Want to know how I know there’s a just and merciful God? There’s only 49 minutes of tape to check. Since 2012 I’ve used the BTN2Go app to rewatch the games (and make the screencaps), and this tape cuts off at the 49 minute mark. It’s 14-14 and then that’s that. So here’s my weekly Check The (49 Minutes Of Available) Tape: [Read more…]

Check The Tape – Nebraska

Finally.  It’s been almost three weeks since a CTT post.  Two weeks ago there wasn’t any online tape to check, and last week was my mom and step-dad’s car accident (they’re doing great, by the way – thanks to all who offered kind words).  I went a little overboard with this one after taking two weeks off.  It’s ugly, but here’s Check The Tape: [Read more…]

Check The Tape – WKU

The lengths I will go through to Check Tape. I’m in my Washington hotel room right now. Tried to Check The Tape last night but the hotel wifi was so bad I couldn’t even get game replay to start. But tonight, this ethernet cable I purchased is doing the trick. Tape has been checked. Sure, it might be 1:30 in the morning, and my wife, who went to sleep three hours ago, will be up and ready to explore the Olympic peninsula by 6:00, but when given the choice to watch an Illini football game for a second time or sleep, who doesn’t choose Illini football? [Read more…]

Check The Tape – Youngstown State

I think this is Year Five of Check The Tape. I know I didn’t do it the first year, but I think the second year I started writing out thoughts on the game tape, and then in 2011 I did a few screencaps, and then since 2012 I’ve been obsessively screencapping my game rewatch. Last year I added all of the arrows and such, so I’ll have to come up with something else to add this year. Maybe some gifs or video? We’ll see.

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Check The Tape – QB Video

No, really. I’m seriously doing this. I’m so starved for Illini football film (or is it attention?) that I’m CTT-ing the highlights they showed in the latest “Illini QB” video. Yes, I am. Really.

Is there much to learn? Of course not. Is this a fairly pointless exercise? Of course it is. Am I doing it anyway? Yes. Because this is my team, and I can’t not pour over every available video.

To the “tape”:

Shedding Blocks

When you’re watching film of your team playing your team, you see both the good and the bad on one play. “Yay, the defense did that well! Wait, that means the offense did that poorly.”

So when going through this first clip, keep that in mind. This is either Simon Cvijanovic holding his block really well… or BJ Bello really struggling to shed a block to get to the ballcarrier.

Goal line play, Josh Ferguson is getting the handoff, and Simon takes on BJ Bello (#10):


To keep him from scoring, Bello needs to get off this block right here. But he doesn’t.


Which means Josh Ferguson has a one on one at the goal line with a safety. With that much of a gap, and a one on one situation, and only one yard needed, there’s really nothing a single safety can do if Bello can’t get off that block.


Did Simon hook under his shoulder and give him a tug that was fairly close to holding? Yes. Do I want Simon to do that on every play because there’s holding on every play but you just have to disguise it? Yes.

Run The Receiver’s Route For Him

Want to learn how to get a few interceptions? Just read the route after the snap and then beat the receiver to the spot where the ball will be thrown.

In the video, Aaron Bailey had just made a nice throw to Kenny Knight for a 30+ yard gain. On the next play, he launches one for the corner of the endzone:


This next pic makes it look like a great throw. Receiver one step in front of the corner, ball placed where only the receiver can grab it.


Wait, no. The guy in orange is the cornerback (Bentley). The guy in blue is the receiver (Whitlow). So that’s not a touchdown – that’s an interception.


We only had one angle at it, but I don’t blame Bailey for that INT one bit. He threw it to the spot. It’s just that V’Angelo read the receiver, likely jumped in front when the receiver curled for the corner, and then outraced him to the spot where the ball would land.

Do this 12 times this season, V’Angelo.

Little Things

I’d like to pause here to point out the ridiculousness of doing a Check The Tape post based on three minutes of highlights shown at the end of a video about the QB battle.

THAT SAID, here are some little things I noticed:

Devin Church (#23) lined up in the Josh Ferguson spot. I’ve been hoping he’s more tailback than slot receiver, so I like seeing this.


Want to see the difference between a senior offensive tackle and a sophomore? In this screencap, on the snap of the ball, senior Simon Cvijanovic is firing into his shuffle step immediately to get leverage on the defensive end. On the other side, sophomore Austin Schmidt is still in his stance. That half second, right there, is sometimes the difference between positive and negative yards:

Simon step

Oh, and I also figured out why our QB’s are having a solid spring. At the end of each practice they touch the Hand of Manberg. #handofmanberg


You Tell Me

A new feature on Check The Tape! I did a screenshot of all three quarterbacks throwing the ball. I have my thoughts, and I have reasons I froze the tape at each spot, but I’m curious if you see the same things.

Here’s all three. Let me know what you think.







Play Of The Day

The scrimmage was closed to the media, but according to the announcer guy, this was the top play: a long touchdown pass from Wes Lunt to Dionte Taylor. Let’s break it down.

The arrow here is pointing to safety Zane Petty. The fact that he’s running parallel to the yard lines tells me that Dionte Taylor has done his job. He’s sold the inside route.


So when Taylor makes his turn – a sharp turn there is the key to this entire route – Petty will have to reverse field.


And if Lunt makes a perfect throw, this play is over. Saftey chased it inside, receiver made a sharp cut, quarterback put the ball to the outside where only the receiver could catch it… touchdown.


After the TD signal, Wes Lunt and offensive guard Joe Spencer celebrated. The celebration was… interesting.

Wes Joe