Coming off a big win against No. 7 Penn State, the Illini were looking to sustain the positive momentum and secure another Big Ten win against Rutgers and make an unexpected bowl game push. Unfortunately, the Illini fell to the Scarlett Knights, 20-14.
Let’s take a look at the takeaways from this game.
Isaiah Williams was finally able to break off a big play this Saturday, scoring on a 51-yard TD pass from Brandon Peters. It was good to see Isaiah use his athleticism to blow the top off the coverage and provide us with a downfield threat in the passing game that we haven’t had all year. I’m hoping that this will unlock some more vertical plays for him as it feels like he has been relatively absent as a result of Illinois’ run-heavy scheme.
Brandon Peters also had a great game for the Illini after being re-named the starter due to Art Sitkowski’s season-ending arm injury. Peters completed over 70% of his passes and threw for two TDs, with the pass to Williams being the standout throw of the game. Peters’ performance was a welcome boost for the Illini after passing for less than 50 yards in last week’s win against Penn State.
Lack of consistency. This has been a story of the season as each win has been followed with a disappointing loss. UTSA after the Nebraska win, shut out on Homecoming against Wisconsin after beating Charlotte, and today. the Illini let a winnable game get out of their hands after last week’s thrilling victory against Penn State.
Illinois ran for over 300 yards on offense last week but yet only managed 107 yds against Rutgers. The workload was distributed between Brown and McCray last week but leaned only on Brown today.
In general the lack of consistency just gives off the vibe of not having complete clarity regarding the identity of the team. It seems like the coaching staff is still struggling to design a scheme to suit this team, which is frustrating to see after eight games into the season.