SOC - Minnesota

Nov 03, 2018

Suddenly I have all these posts to write. Tonight's SOC. A write-up of the basketball exhibition I attended this evening. The first LLOUI post in four months. The last two I will get to in the morning. For tonight, because I have to, let's knock out the Stream Of Consciousness.

This feels like a really important game. Honestly, it's probably our only chance for another win. We're not winning at Nebraska, and we're not beating Iowa, and honestly, even though Northwestern plays to the level of every opponent they face, we're not beating Northwestern. So it's really just this game if we're going to get to 4-8 on the season (my prediction).

If I just go by the "feel" of this game, it "feels" like the Coordinator Was Fired Now Everyone Is Fired Up game. Oklahoma's defense has looked much better since they fired their coordinator. Partly, I'm sure, because the playcalling got better but partly because the players' heads snapped around. A coordinator getting let go midseason is sometimes a wake-up call.

Will it be that for us? I guess I really can't see it. The issues with this defense seem really extreme. Maryland put up 10.3 yards PER PLAY, and that's beyond any kind of "maybe the players will be focused and ready now that their coordinator lost his job" we'd be hoping for. There are massive defensive issues, and I don't think Hardy Nickerson leaving will change much.

Now, if there was an offense to do it against in these next four games, it would be Minnesota. Going by the S&P+ statistics, they're not very explosive (78th nationally), which is the very thing we struggle with (98th nationally on defense). They're not very good in the red zone, they're not good on third-and-short - their offense stats are very pedestrian.

Unfortunately, our defensive stats are horrific. I probably said this last week too, but if we only had a poor defense, things would look so much better. Just, like, the 84th best defense in the country. If we had that, honestly, I'd start talking about winning one or two more games. The run game continues to come along, so it feels like the offense will do its part, so if we just had a poor defense things would be OK.

But we don't. We have the worst defense you or I have ever seen in Memorial Stadium. Let's go through those stats I put together on Saturday one more time. In the last three games, the defense is allowing...

623 yards per game
8.3 yards per play
22 of 38 third down conversions
16.4 yards per pass completion
7.0 yards per carry
Points per game in Big Ten play: 46.7

With a defense like that, writing a Stream Of Consciousness post is impossible. Everything comes back to it. If you're giving up 8.3 yards per play over three full games, season's over. That's a stat that more or less means "no team is going to punt against you because there's no way you can keep them from a first down if they get four full plays to try to accomplish it. At that point, you're at "we have to force this team into a holding call because the only way we stop them is if they have 2nd and 20. I mean, Maryland's second string offense had 2nd and 33 last week and they scored.

So that's the story of this season. Everything we try to think about comes back to the defense. There's just no way to think anything positive when most every opponent won't have to punt. At this point, the only way we can win is a turnover game. I just can't see us not giving up yard after yard, first down after first down. Can you?

I was thinking the other day about high school football games. I just looked up some Missouri high school playoff scores. 69-8. 56-10. 70-6. And those are second round playoff games, meaning the teams on the losing end had actually won their first round matchups last week. Why did they lose in such embarrassing fashion this week? Because when a powerhouse offense plays a poor defense, the game is over. Your offense won't be able to keep up even if they have a bad defense. If your defense is helpless to stop the opponent, game's over.

That's what these last four games feel like. I'd love to think we have a chance tomorrow, and we're playing a team without an explosive offense, but as hard as I try, I just can't see it. Until our defense can stop someone (anyone), I think we have to expect to be run over like a freight train. I think we can score some points tomorrow, but I just can't see us stopping Minnesota (or anyone).

Minnesota 44, Illinois 27


MuckFichigan92 on November 03 @ 02:19 AM CDT

Without the technical speak, I see this is our best chance for a win. Power team? I think we can man up and squelch an attack. Spread? I don't think so. A dead-cat bump in inspiration would be welcome for the defense this afternoon. Anything really. If we can rotate enough across the DL, we can get a W. Minny is pretty spartan, i.e. basic. KISS

Illinimac68 on November 03 @ 02:52 AM CDT

In 1968 the BOT decided to fire Jim Valek in midseason. His job was to end right after the Ohio State game. The players revolted and threatened they would not play. The BOT backed down and the players played an inspired game against eventual national champion Ohio State, losing by a touchdown. I'd like to see something close to this level of commitment tomorrow.

uilaw71 on November 03 @ 06:07 AM CDT

If the game were played on paper, your analysis would be on target. But it’s at home, in November, being played by kids who care. Surprised that you of all people would overlook the latter.

illiniranger on November 03 @ 07:11 AM CDT

Minnesota is the third worst team in the conference, and they are still favored by two scores at our place. That cannot happen ever again.

Bear8287 on November 03 @ 11:20 AM CDT

98th nationally on defense

Oh, those are the "happy" stats.

If you look at it this way:
it's more like 127th. (Feels more like 127th too.)

As I posted in Nathan's "Postscript Maryland" post:

Oregon St. for 128 is probably doable, but I don't think that the Illini can catch UConn for 129. (Man, those are some fugly stats!)

HiggsBoson on November 03 @ 06:41 PM CDT

Well, that was a pleasant surprise. Odd how Reggie Corbin wasn't good enough for McGee to play. Over 200 yards rushing today and just short of 1,000 for the season with three games left. Defense even looked better today without Nickerson aside from those two late TDs.

Speak Your Mind

Please login or register to post comments on the IlliniBoard.