This is not progress.
It's year four. Against a good, not great Gophers team. Yet, here we are, getting trucked for 500+ yards. Two 100-yard rushers. Minnesota barely needed to pass the ball.
That's a tough pill to swallow for Illini fans. I think the fans know what they're getting with Lovie. This was inevitable.
The time to change is now. Josh Whitman better be on the phone back-channeling to find the next head coach. This was inexcusable.
Special teams: The only special thing
Special teams really showed up today. That's it. That's the one positive. Bob Ligashesky has done a really fantastic job with this phase of the game. If only the rest of the staff could keep up.
Blake Hayes looks like an All-American. Yes, McCourt missed a 45-yard field goal, but he was given an opportunity for redemption when PJ Fleck out thought himself and his icing the kicker backfired. It's refreshing to have one aspect of your team working right...
There's not a whole lot to say. It was a tough, bad day for everyone involved offensively. Bad execution. Dropped passes. Injuries. Limited run game. No passing to speak of. It was a rough day at the office for Rod Smith and this staff. No continuity. No rhythm. It would have been nice to see Isaiah Williams in this game, because it's time to hand over the reins. See what the kid can do. Of course, he was hurt and didn’t make the trip.
This is not bashing Matthew Robinson or Brandon Peters. Peters has made some throws that few Illinois quarterbacks have made in recent years. But he's a deer in the headlights on the blitz, and is perpetually uncomfortable in the pocket. (Physically, I hope he's okay. That was a tough, head-first tackle.)
Robinson played hard, but he has to put so much in his delivery to get the ball out, and he can't throw an accurate deep ball to save his life.
So that means run the ball, right? Well, when no one fears your passing game, the defense will just key on the running backs all day. Blitz when they drop to pass and force the inexperienced or nervous quarterback to beat you. Minnesota ran that to perfection yesterday.
It's time to see the freshman phenom get some time to assess what you've got. A mobile quarterback can help offset some of those things. You could see it with Robinson a couple times yesterday. Williams is the possible future. The future is now. I understand the argument for redshirting him and saving four years for the next coach. But there has to be something to get excited about.
Oh, and receivers, try catching the ball when the game is still undecided. I swear, it's almost as if they don't practice catching the ball. Or tackling. I understand injuries have hurt this team the last couple of weeks. However, at some point, every team deals with injuries. There are only so many excuses you can make before you just throw up your hands and say, "this coaching staff has to go".
Maybe Rod Smith isn’t a Porsche, maybe he’s a Hyundai. Maybe we just thought he was a Porsche because our last car was a bicycle.— Illinois Football Breakdown (@ILLFBBreakdown) October 5, 2019
Defense: Back to the drawing board
This defense doesn't work in college. I see effort. I see the players trying hard. Yet, they're constantly out of position. They don't tackle. This is year four. It shouldn't be this hard. The best coaches hide deficiencies by accentuating strengths. You could see Fleck knew his passing game was having some issues with catches and the turf, so he abandoned it and just ran the ball right down the Illini's throat. They knew what was coming and they still couldn't stop it. That's the players struggling to tackle and the staff not adjusting and allowing the Minnesota offense to overwhelm them.
Also, Lovie must be the most terrified coach in America, because his conservatism bespeaks scared shitless football. Please, keep punting from Minnesota's 45 down by 20+. That'll alter the score, maybe, somehow.
I didn't mean for this to become a "let's excoriate the coaching staff" thing, but come on. How much more of this do Illinois fans have to endure before someone does something. Probably the rest of the season. Let's hope Whitman has someone lined up by the Northwestern game. I'll be one of the few fans there. As always, I'll be rooting for the players, but Lovie needs to go. Move on.