After an embarrassing home loss to Rutgers, Illinois faced the task of playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers on the road. They were able to bounce back from the Rutgers disappointment and played a little bit better.
The defense, despite giving up 292 yards, did their part by playing great red zone defense and grabbing 3 turnovers. The offense found a small spark by playing true freshman Cam Thomas, who finished his first career game with 79 yards rushing.
But, it wasn’t enough. The Illini couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities given to them in this game and fell short in a very winnable contest.
Minnesota played a poor game in some ways. They weren’t able to pass the ball effectively, and while they ran for 292 yards, they struggled to execute consistently and committed three turnovers.
Illinois had their chances to take control, but the offense just wasn’t capable of putting together scoring drives when they were needed. Illinois averaged 3.4 yards per pass and 3.4 yards per run. That just isn’t good enough.
The team played both Jeff George Jr. and Cam Thomas at QB today. They even switched QBs between plays on the same drive. This provided little to help Illinois as Minnesota figured out the very obvious trend of George Jr means a pass, while Thomas means a run. I struggle to understand the point of this strategy. Perhaps the coaching staff does not trust Cam Thomas to throw the ball with any level of confidence.
So, we are in the same place we have been all year. Illinois is a young team trying to lay down the foundation of the team. Some progress was made this week on defense, but the offense has a long, long way to go.
It’s probably time for Cam Thomas to take over the offense, but with the Wisconsin Badgers looming next week, maybe the team will want to hold off on the switch.
It’s a process this year. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is. Here’s hoping it gets better in the future.