SOC - Virginia 2022

Sep 10, 2022

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I'll just come out and say it - I feel really good about this game. Not sure why. I just do.

It's not really like me. I'll probably be wildly nervous about the Chattanooga game in 11 days. But as of this moment, I feel good about this one. I probably need to make this a very short SOC before the nerves hit and I change my mind.

I guess the main reason I feel confident is Virginia's first road trip. The same rule that applied to us last week applies to them this week. My SOC last week was basically "this is the first road trip, and so many things go bad on the first road trip." The same applies to Virginia, I think especially with a new coach and new schemes. You go on the road for the first time and suddenly nothing works.

But it's not just that. I find myself quite encouraged this week. The NERDstats look pretty good. The defense has been better than I expected. Chase Brown has 350 yards in two games. Maybe I should pause on that last one for a moment. Here's the best way to say it.

Leading rusher since 2012, in order (excluding Covid season):

2018 - Reggie Corbin (1,085 yards)
2021 - Chase Brown (1,005)
2013 - Josh Ferguson (779)
2014 - Josh Ferguson (735)
2015 - Ke'Shawn Vaughn (723)
2016 - Kendrick Foster (720)
2019 - Reggie Corbin (675)
2012 - Donovonn Young (571)
2022 - Chase Brown (350 yards in two games)
2017 - Mike Epstein (346)

In two games he's passed the leading rusher from the 2017 season. By the end of the Chattanooga game it's possible he'll have passed the leading rusher from the 2012 season. And it's very possible he'll be third on that list by mid-October. No, he's not going to keep up this pace - at this pace he'd rush for 2,100 yards - but it seems beyond likely that, if healthy, he puts up our fifth 1,000-yard rushing performance of the last 20 seasons.

So that's one reason to feel really good. And Virginia's offensive line is another. They had to piece something together out of nothing this year (all their offensive linemen from last year either graduated or transferred out), and I feel like this is the game where that gets exposed.

That's probably the whole game right there. As we saw last week, Virginia has a great QB and several great receivers. The reason I feel good is that I don't think Armstrong will be able to just sit back and throw darts like he did last year. I feel like he won't have enough time for the routes to develop, and that means he'll force some things, and that means we'll grab some interceptions.

I know it probably sounds weird for me to SOC like this. I'm rarely confident (with good reason). But the SOC is about where my brain has settled the night before the game, and my brain has settled on Virginia struggling on offense tomorrow (and turning the ball over).

This makes me wonder what my prediction was for the Virginia game last year. Let me look it up. It was... Virginia 35, Illinois 23. We lost 42-14.

I just don't see any way Virginia gets to 42 (famous last words). If they had a running game and an offensive line then yes, I can see Brennan Armstrong throwing touchdown after touchdown. He might be the best QB we face this season. There's a chance this is the 2016 North Carolina game (where Mitch Trubisky won the game by himself).

But I'm not feeling that at all. I'm feeling a fairly comfortable Illini win. Which means I need to get to this prediction before I change my mind.

Illinois 38, Virginia 17


MJC73 on September 10, 2022 @ 01:29 AM

Wasn’t expecting that. But I’ll take it.

IlliniJoe81 on September 10, 2022 @ 02:37 AM

I was shocked when I saw the line for this game. Maybe Vegas knows something I don’t.

NERDstats says Illinois doesn’t suck. Our injury situation isn’t bad after 2 games.

I’m down with this.

Efremwinters84 on September 10, 2022 @ 07:41 AM

You optimist! You're even more bullish on the Illini than Vegas.

I've got us losing by two TD's to a much superior QB....... as well as a head coach who is the former Clemson Offensive Coordinator, and helped lead the Tigers to ten straight 10-win seasons. Plus, I think that first road game "thing" is specific to the Illini.


Thaillini22 on September 10, 2022 @ 10:57 PM

You were off by 5 TDs.

Illinimac68 on September 10, 2022 @ 08:56 AM

I have a feeling this could be a blowout in our favor. It's probably just long Covid or the onset of senile dementia but there it is.

Eagle on September 10, 2022 @ 09:02 AM

That's the big question I wondered about several weeks ago. Is the first road game thing specific to us? I doubt it is. Maybe it's more pronounced with us, but Virginia has to deal with it to some extent. That would be an interesting stat. What is a coach's record, or a program's record in their first road game over the last X number of years?

My concern is that Virginia will do for the whole game what Indiana did in the fourth quarter - force anyone else other than Chase Brown to beat them. If they stack up the box, but Tommy and the receivers have dialed it in (and we get a couple early sacks), we can overcome Armstrong.

There's a certain ring to a group led by a jersey boy called Tommy and the Receivers. A good marketing person should take advantage of that.

MNIllini96 on September 10, 2022 @ 10:06 AM

I was feeling good about this game until I read this SOC. Suddenly I am really nervous. Literally as a write this Lee Corso just put Virginia as his superdog. I guess that makes me feel a little better.

gman on September 10, 2022 @ 10:13 AM

When Chase gets tired, if no one steps up on their own, go full blown barge on them in last quarter.

pwillits on September 10, 2022 @ 04:39 PM

So far this call seems good. Can we please stop shooting ourselves in the foot?

RochIllini on September 10, 2022 @ 07:05 PM

You hit the 21 point spread.

LongLiveTheChief98 on September 10, 2022 @ 08:45 PM

Wow, Robert...nailed the margin!

Altenberger with cheese on September 10, 2022 @ 10:29 PM

Let’s let the rarity of this win sink in. Today was only the 4th reg season win (home or away) against a Power 5 team that was Power 5 at the time they played IL since 2000. We beat Cal in 2000 and 2001, ASU in 2011 and UVA today.

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