Losses aren't fun and moral victories suck. But there's something kind of nice about watching a team that's grossly over-matched not quit, and that's probably the best compliment one could pay the 2013 Illini other than "not as terrible as predicted".
The Wisconsin Badgers got off to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter which would have been more than enough to be reason to turn the game off last season. But if this team has shown any change in character from 2012's horribleness, it's that they've learned resiliency. They're not going to beat the best teams in the conference, but they're not going to just lie down after getting punched in the mouth.
The defense is still terrible and Tim Banks is most likely gone at the end of the season, but the offense is legit and things are getting better. It's a long way back to being a consistently good program but we're on the right track.
- Steve Hull had himself a very nice day, bringing in six passes for 105 yards. If he can turn into a reliable target for the quarterbacks, that will open the passing game up that much more.
- Speaking of the passing game, the team had four receivers finish with at least 50 yards. Hull, Spencer Harris, Martize Barr, and Ryan Lankford all hit the half century mark. No one is a truly dominant weapon, but they can at least force defenses to stay honest.
- Aaron Bailey threw his first touchdown pass and it was pretty and deceptive.
- Earlier in the season I complained about my dislike of the swinging gate. It's now worked for two two-point conversions, so I'll just shut the hell up.
- V'Angelo Bentley left the game very early and was seen wearing a walking boot on the sideline. The return game being useful again hinges pretty heavily on if V'Angelo is the returner so here's hoping it's nothing serious.
- The ball protection was a little lackluster and with this defense's inability to create turnovers the offense is going to need to take much better care of the ball.
- The defense is terrible. The tackling is sloppy, the pass rush is all but non-existent, and other teams can simply run the ball until their halfbacks collapse from exhaustion. This needs to be fixed quickly.