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Lineup changes Illinois needs to make to beat Nebraska

It’s the young guys’ time to shine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Illinois at Purdue Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What next?

That sucked. Saturday sucked.

But now that I have had a couple of days to think about it, I do believe that this team (on paper) can do great things. They are young and dumb, and the game is still too quick for them. I wrote on this last week:

I am glad that some of our fellow Illinois writers agree.

So why not use this season as a building block for 2024? Play for the four more wins needed to make a bowl, and let the youth (and one senior) shine. Pleas Honeywood made this point earlier this week.

So here are five players I want to see more from in the last seven games:

Jordan Slaughter

NCAA Football: Illinois at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive line lacks a voice. We went from Alegretti to Kramer to Green to Palcho and when that crop of linemen went to the NFL, we were left with younger pieces of the line that still have room to develop a voice.

Slaughter should be able to step right in and play at the right guard position, especially with Gesky moving to left guard earlier this year.

With Slaughter in at RG, the line is now:

  • LT Julian Pearl — LG Josh Gesky — C Josh Kreutz — RG Slaughter — RT Isaiah Adams

While Adams has been an issue at right guard, Slaughter should be able to offer the line a bit more veteran presence instead of Zy Crisler.

Kaden Feagin

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Illinois at Purdue Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I think this is self-explanatory. On 23 fewer carries, Faegin has only 24 fewer yards when compared to Josh McCray. Both carry the same big body running back build, but Faegin is more akin to Derrick Henry (only time will tell the truth about this comparison), while McCray is still trying to find his footing in the Illinois backfield.

We know Reggie Love has the starting role. Faegin should be the next man up.

Faegin has also played in four games. It’s time to burn that redshirt.

Henry Boyer

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 ReliaQuest Bowl Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I know me, you and the other four of us watching on Peacock wanted Boyer to catch that ball in the end zone.

Boyer can be used on the line as support for Adams or line up as a receiver. Boyer has a massive frame — 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds. This offensive line needs all the help it can get and Boyer is an excellent rotation player.

Zachary Tobe and Saboor Karriem

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Illinois at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tobe and Karriem are in the top-10 in passes defended in the Big Ten. Tobe has one pass block per game, and Karriem has 1.5. If Karriem had played 75% of Illinois games, he would be leading the Big Ten.

Here are your starting DBs — pick 4 of 7.

Xavier Scott, Miles Scott, Tobe, Karriem, Clayton Bush, Nicario Harper, and Tyler Strain.

Where is Taz you might ask?

On the bench for making unsmart, untough, undependable plays.

Malik Elzy

You already burned his redshirt. Might as well open up his playbook. It’s a waste of a year if you don't.

James Kreutz

For all that went wrong in West Lafayette, it clouded what was the best defensive performance by Kreutz. This was James’s break out game.

The rotation of Tarique Barnes, Dylan Rosiek, and Kretz will be solid moving forward.

Kreutz was also my DPOW.

Kinda lame game by Jacas, Coleman, and Newton.

Here are the rest of the charts.

I need more Elzy.

The spikes indicate turnovers. Illinois had a chance halfway though the game and, boy, did Purdue blow it wide open. This could have been a 70-20 beat down. Illinois is lucky it ended 44-19.

Make the changes.

Beat Nebraska.

Friday Night Lights.