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FAU is Illinois’ chance to put it all together

Great time for a tune up.

Brad Repplinger // TCR

Apologies for the brevity here. I was at a wedding this weekend, and honestly, even 48 hours later, I am still hungover. That's what happens when you have access to an open bar mere moments after your team lets you down. More importantly, you made it your whole online persona for the summer.

Penn State, I guess, is a good team.

I did cower behind the “if it weren’t for the four interceptions,” Illinois would still have won. I had to have some pride in my team. But let's flip that around and make it a more palatable statement. Those four picks are why Penn State won. We no longer had signs of the Altmyer Effect in Week 3. And looking at the chart below, Illinois got outplayed, play after play after play.

Illinois had a chance to flip the momentum at halftime, but there was no natural rhythm on offense. Any positive momentum was stopped, and by the time the third quarter rolled around, the offense looked clueless.

There was a lot of hate and questioning on Barry Lunney’s playcalling. Much of that was true and definitely called for. But statistically, where the play calling is coming from wasn't the worst. And in a game of chances you take the chance.

Let me explain with this really terrible chart.

First off, apologies here, it’ll be cleaned up by next week. (I am spending all weekend at home.)

But secondly, I want you to look at three rows: Pass Reception, Pass Incompletion, and Rush.

Let's do a quick math here to find out the EPA per pass and per rush.

Per rush is easy: Illinois loses .08 points per rush

Per pass, Illinois would have gained a total of 18.78 points per reception and lost 14.26 points per incompletion.

Thus per pass, Illinois would have gained .116 points

The statistics say to pass the ball. Thus, Barry Lunney passes the ball.

There are probably many more in-game live statistics and metrics that the dudes in the booth are looking at. And there are a dozen more statistics that go into game planning.

And — as the resident TCR numbers guy — I get that.

But you can't be a slave to the statistics. You get burned. Sometimes you have to start doing what your gut tells you to do. And you can kind of see this forming in the chart below.

The wide receiver room is here to stay. I am excited about Ashton Hollins, Malik Elzy, Tip Reiman and Griffin Moore. Those are names that I expect to be called for the Saturdays moving forward.

But the running back room, I'm sorry. The Chace Brown-sized whole is too big. I am over the McCray experiment. Give Love the starting job. His touchdown in the second quarter sealed the deal for me.

The offensive line does need work. They aren’t creating gaps. They aren’t stopping QB hits and pressures. We just don't have a stalwart on the offensive line who brings the whole line together. Hopefully a tune-up game against FAU this week can bring some of the mojo this line dearly needs.

Speaking of mojo. The Illinois defensive line is back.

Against a team with stellar running backs and a QB savior, this defensive line ate all day long. Penn State overall had a worse pass EPA and a rush EPA than Illinois.

For an offense that was expected to cook, it didn't. That is the big star here and why I was still encouraged after Saturday.

Just look at the penetration Johnny Newton and Gabe Jacas get right after the snap:

I need one game where it all comes together.

10-2 still alive.

The streak starts this week.