Illinois let a baby-faced assassin turn Memorial Stadium’s lights out on Friday Night.
Bret Bielema must follow suit and pull the plug on a once-promising light for 2021.
The super senior strategy is simply not supplying significant enough substance to warrant its win-now nature. If the losses continue to pile up — and the Illini are 11-point underdogs at Purdue — Bret and Co. must pivot toward the future.
We’ve already seen beginnings of it — credit the staff for pulling super senior Tony Adams out of starter snaps; and good god, did Josh McCray look like a runaway freight train on multiple occasions. The dude is a full-on bully. Think you can tackle him? You’ll be slammed into the turf faster than he can ask for your lunch money.
McCray, a freshman, and Adams, a super senior, are heading in opposite directions, something that needs to start happening across the roster.
This team, as currently constructed, with the most super seniors in Power 5 football, allowed a Terrapins team to come away with a win they almost certainly believe they shouldn’t have. Add the loss to the list of “games an experienced team shouldn’t lose”:
- An experienced team should not lose to a Group of 5 team at home
- An experienced team should not get completely outclassed after losing the above game.
- An experienced team should not choke away a game after the above. At home.
So what are we doing here?
A team that is one of, if not the most, experienced team in college football is racking up outcomes that experienced teams shouldn’t. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is grim: an untalented team.
The issue isn’t scheme/coaching.
Lovie Smith’s defense was one unchanging, constant, bad scheme. ANY scheme is better than a Tampa 2 scheme that left opposing coaches saying “predictable, bland, and easy to game plan.”
Regardless of Tony Petersen’s play calling, the offense is arguably far better suited for this roster if only because Rod Smith tried fitting a pocket passer into a running scheme. Like the defense, any scheme should be better than one ran without the right skillsets.
If the current talent gets you 1-3 staring down Purdue in West Lafayette, what is the point? The super seniors’ value is based solely on their ability to win now. If they can’t do that there is no value in them playing.
The score did not reflect the talent as well as it appears, either.
At almost 500 passing yards (481), Taulia Tagovailoa seemed to have all day on numerous attempts and completed almost 75% of his passes. The Terrapins running game averaged 4.9 yards per carry. The score looked good, but the defense still could not cover anyone, the quarterback still had a great game, and the running backs still found tons of room to run almost every carry.
The score was a literal best case scenario game from the Lovie era. Give up a ton of yards, get absolutely-mega- crucial turnovers at the most opportune times to not only get the ball back but prevent a likely touchdown. I still came away very unimpressed with the defense. The offensive line Is still bad, undoubtedly made worse by terrible QB play.
Those guys ARE ALL SUPER SENIORS.
Can I make myself more clear?