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Game Thread Game Nine: Ohio State 40, Illinois 2 (final)

Team preview from CFBNews.com

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Illinois Fighting Illini

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[font=Arial, Helvetica]Want the CFN Illinois Preview in printable pdf?
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Head coach: Ron Zook
1st year at Illinois
4th year overall: 23-14
Returning O Lettermen: 20
Returning D Lettermen: 23
Returning ST Lettermen: 3
Lettermen Lost: 16
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[font=Arial, Helvetica]Ten Best Illinois Players
1. RB Pierre Thomas, Jr.
2. RB E.B. Halsey, Jr.
3. P Steve Weatherford, Sr.
4. WR Kendrick Jones, Sr.
5. SS Justin Harrison, Soph.
6. FS Morris Virgil, Sr.
7. CB Alan Ball, Jr.
8. FB Jason Davis, Sr.
9. DT Ryan Matha, Sr.
10. C Matt Maddox, Jr.
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2005 Schedule
</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/[/font][font=Arial, Helvetica]3[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Rutgers[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/10[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]San Jose State[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/17[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at California[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/24[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Michigan State[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/1[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Iowa[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/8[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Indiana[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/22[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Penn State[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/29[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Wisconsin [/font] </TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]11/5[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Ohio State[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]11/12[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Purdue[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]11/19[/font]</TD><TD align=left width=119>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Northwestern[/font]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></CENTER><CENTER></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE id=table13 height=299 cellSpacing=0 width=169><TBODY><TR><TD align=left width=165 bgColor=#ffffff height=253><TABLE id=table16 cellSpacing=0 width=170><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#f77329>
[font=Arial, Helvetica]CFN Prediction: 3-8
2004 Record: 3-8

</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left bgColor=#ffffff>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Preview 2004 predicted wins[/font] <TABLE id=table17 width=162><TBODY><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/4[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Florida A&M[/font][font=Arial, Helvetica] W 52-13[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/11[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]UCLA L 35-17[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/18[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Western Mich[/font][font=Arial, Helvetica] W 30-27[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]9/25[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Purdue L 38-30[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/2[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Wisconsin L 24-7[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/9[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Michigan St L 38-25[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/16[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Michigan L 30-19[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/23[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Minnesota L 45-0[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]10/30[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Iowa L 23-13[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]11/6[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]Indiana[/font][font=Arial, Helvetica] W 26-22[/font]</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left width=27>[font=Arial, Helvetica]11/20[/font]</TD><TD width=121>[font=Arial, Helvetica]at Nwestern L 28-21 OT[/font]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR><CENTER></CENTER><CENTER></CENTER><CENTER></TBODY></TABLE></CENTER></TD></TR><CENTER></CENTER><CENTER></CENTER><CENTER></TBODY></TABLE></CENTER></CENTER></TD></TR><TR><TD align=middle width=157 bgColor=#ffffff height=2><!--120x600 and 160x600 SkyScraper CODE for collegefootballnews.com --><SCRIPT language=javascript src="http://media.fastclick.net/w/get.media?sid=16942&m=3&tp=7&d=j&t=n"></SCRIPT><NOSCRIPT></NOSCRIPT><!-- 120x600 and 160x600 SkyScraper CODE for collegefootballnews.com --></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>​
Pete Fiutak
One thing's for sure with the hiring of Ron Zook as the new head coach; it's not going to be dull.
Ron Turner is a good guy and was a mellow, teaching coach, but he's more suited for the NFL and will be a nice fit for Chicago Bears. Zook is a rah-rah, go get 'em type who should, if nothing else, make Illinois football relevant at the basketball mad school.

In Zook's brief and slightly bizarre tenure at Florida, consistency was a problem with not enough big wins to allow the Gator fans to forgive him for not being Steve Spurrier. However, he could recruit and had a fire and enthusiasm that inspired loyalty a from his players that occasionally got them to play at a high level. Is he a master game planner or X and O whiz? He wasn't one at Florida, but then again, Turner was one at Illinois and that didn't turn out so hot.

The team was young and hit by injuries and inconsistent play over the last two years. Somehow, this is still a young team despite welcoming back 15 starters and both kickers. Pierre Thomas and E.B. Halsey are two good backs to work with and WR Kendrick Jones should put up decent numbers as the number one receiver in a good passing attack. The quarterback situation will sort itself out with Tim Brasic looking good this spring, and there's hope for improvement on defense with good safeties and decent pass rushing prospects. Now it's up to Zook and his staff to upgrade energy and make the team a winner.

The Schedule: Three of the first four games are at home to give hope for a decent start. There's no Michigan or Minnesota on the Big Ten slate to make things a bit easier, but the normal Indiana layup is on the road. If Zook can get his young team to pull off an upset or two, the season finale against Northwestern could be for a winning season.
Best Offensive Player: Junior RBs Pierre Thomas and E.B. Halsey. The two are quick, talented backs who'll carry the offense until the passing game comes around. With a shaky offensive line in front of them, they'll have make their own big plays early on.
Best Defensive Players: Sophomore SS Justin Harrison. A sure tackler with good size and decent speed, Harrison will combine with former RB Morris Virgil to give the Illini a good pair of safeties.
Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Tim Brasic. Brasic isn't Chris Leak, but he ran a similar spread offense in high school to the one being brought in. He was accurate all spring vaulting to the head of the quarterback derby ahead of the exciting Kisan Flakes and 2004 part-time starter Chris Pazan.
The season will be a success if ... Illinois wins six games. That's asking a lot and will require no slip ups and a few upsets, but the schedule isn't horrible and Zook and his staff will be shooting for a winning season right off the bat.
Key game: Sept. 24 vs. Michigan State. The Big Ten opener is at home against a decent Spartan team. The Illini have to establish home dominance right away to set a tone for the rest of the year.

2004 Fun Stats:

- Penalties: Opponents 78 for 643 yards - Illinois 42 for 361 yards
- Fumbles lost: Illinois 11 - Opponents 3- Sacks: Opponents 24 for 147 yards - Illinois 12 for 95
Offense Breakdown and Analysis | Defense Breakdown and Analysis
- Illinois Depth Chart

<HR>2005 Recruiting Class
Star of the Class
Rashard Mendenhall RB 5-11 210 Skokie (Niles West) Ill
Rated the No. 1 recruit in the state of Illinois by Scout.com ... A five-star prospect by Scout.com ... Named to Rivals Top-100 team ... Ranked the nation's 24th-best recruit by Scout.com ... Named to the Student Sports Top-100 list of senior prospects ... Averaged 9.1 yards per carry as a senior at Niles West, rushing for 1,453 yards on 160 attempts and 14 touchdowns ... PrepStar All-American and Dream Team selection ... Named the No. 1 recruit in the state of Illinois by the Chicago Sun Times ... Named to SuperPrep's Elite 50 list ... Also a SuperPrep All-American selection, ranked the nation's No. 4 running back by the same publication ... The sixth-highest rated running back in the nation by Scout.com ... Selected for the Fifth Annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl ... As a junior, rushed for 1,832 yards and 19 touchdowns, while averaging 11.6 yards per carry ... Recorded 1,300 yards and 21 scores as a sophomore ... Verbally committed to Illinois as a junior ... Also had over 1,000 career yards receiving and 13 touchdown catches ... Was a three-year All-Central Suburban Conference selection for football and two-time pick for track ... Named to All-State teams as a junior in both football and track ... An All-Area selection for both sports as a sophomore and during his junior year for football ... Was the Outstanding Performer at the Illinois prep Top-Times meet as a junior ... Finished seventh in the state 100-meter dash as a sophomore ... Also lettered in basketball

Instant Impact Players
Derrick McPhearson WR 6-1 195 Hyattsville (DeMatha Catholic) Md.
A four-star prospect by Scout.com and Rivals.com ... Ranked 11th among Prep School prospects by Rivals.com ... Rated the nation's eighth-best wide receiver by Scout.com ... Attended Fork Union Academy Prep School in 2004 ... Recorded 38 receptions for 778 yards and eight touchdowns in 2003 as a senior at DeMatha High School ... Also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, registered 23 tackles and three interceptions in limited defensive play ... Benches 320 pounds and squats 550 with a 38-inch vertical jump, while running a 4.38 40 time ... Named to the Washington Post's All-Metro first-team ... Helped lead DeMatha to a perfect 12-0 record and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship ... A standout baseball player out of high school was sought by many major league teams ... Hit .400 as a senior with five home runs ... Would like to pursue a career in criminal justice ... Chose Illinois over Florida, Clemson, Maryland, Nebraska and Virginia Tech and had offers from LSU and South Carolina ... Father, Gerrick, played defensive back at Boston College from 1984-87 and went on to play in the NFL with the New England Patriots ... His mother, Kim, was a standout high school track star

Brit Miller LB 6-1 230 Decatur (Eisenhower) Ill.
Rated the No. 17 recruit in the state of Illinois and No. 84 among linebackers nationally by Scout.com ... Ranked 37th among linebackers by Rivals.com ... As a senior, led his team in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks ... PrepStar All-Region ... Named to All-Conference and All-County teams as a quarterback, running back and linebacker in high school ... SuperPrep All-Region ... Rushed for 1,249 yards and 19 scores his senior year ... Ran the option and had 1,106 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns as a junior ... Also had 105 tackles and 10 sacks from his linebacker position ... Is Eisenhower's all-time leading rusher ... Earned 10 letters in football, basketball and track ... Recorded 243 tackles between his junior and senior season ... State track qualifier in the 4x100, 4x200, shot and discus

Rest of the Class

<TABLE id=table19 width=445 align=left border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Ismail Abdunafi</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>DL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-4</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>285</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Elizabeth Bakersfield</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>N.J.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Will Bergen</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>OL/TE</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-4</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>260</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Tampa (Middleton)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Fla.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Paul Blalock</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>QB</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-0</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>190</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Aurora (Waubonsie Valley)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ill.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Eric Block</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>OL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-3</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>265</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>New Orleans (Jesuit)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>La.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Immanuel Chu</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>DL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-3</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>275</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Woodstock (Woodstock)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ga.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>William Davis</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>OL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-2</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>210</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Md.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Guesly Dervil</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>DB</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>5-11</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>180</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Jacksonville (White)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Fla.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Kyle Hudson</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>WR</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>5-11</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>150</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Mattoon (Mattoon)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ill.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Gregory McClendon</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>WR</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-3</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>205</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Columbus (Carver)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ga.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Michael Nabolotny</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>TE</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-5</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>245</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Glenview (Glenbrook South)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ill.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Doug Pilcher</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>DL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-5</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>230</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Hinsdale (Central)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ill.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Rodney Pittman</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>DL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-3</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>215</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Fort Washington (Friendly)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Md.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Sam Porter</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>LB</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-2</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>225</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Chicago (Morgan Park)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ill.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Trevor Scott</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>OL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-3</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>260</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Fort Valley (Peach County)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ga.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Rahkeem Smith</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>RB</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-1</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>213</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Lombard (Willowbrook)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ill.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Tremayne Walker</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>DL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-3</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>285</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Tallahassee (James Rickards)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Fla.</TD></TR><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#ffffff>Sirod Williams</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>DL</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>6-4</TD><TD width=30 bgColor=#ffffff>260</TD><TD width=215 bgColor=#ffffff>Garfield Heights (Garfield Heights)</TD><TD width=40 bgColor=#ffffff>Ohio</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR><TR><TD width="100%" height=1><TABLE cellSpacing=0 width=650 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=470 bgColor=#ffffff height=1><TABLE width=652 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=505 bgColor=#ff6600>

Illinois offense

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR><TR><TD width=650 bgColor=#ffffff><HR>2005 Illinois Preview | Defense Breakdown and Analysis | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Basically ... Ed Zaunbrecher brings his passing attack from Gainesville to Champaign and is looking for the right pieces to fit. The running backs will be the centerpiece early on with Pierre Thomas and E.B. Halsey as good as any twosome in the Big Ten. The receiving corps has potential with Kendrick Jones a burgeoning star. A quarterback has to emerge as a star to run the offense like Chris Leak did for Florida. Inexperienced junior Tim Brasic has the inside line on the job, but he'll need time to get his feet wet. The line is average at best.

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[font=Arial, Helvetica]Returning Leaders
[font=Arial, Helvetica]Passing: Chris Pazan
37-63, 292 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Pierre Thomas
152 carries for 893 yds and 8 TDs
Receiving: Kendrick Jones
47 catches for 687 yds and 5 TDs
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[font=Arial, Helvetica].[/font]
Star of the offense: Junior RB Pierre Thomas
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Tim Brasic
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Ben Amundsen
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Kendrick Jones
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Thomas, 2) RB E.B. Halsey, 3) Jones
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense: Experienced quarterback

There are two keys to the quarterback in the new spread offense. First, someone has to take the job by the reins and be consistent. Inexperienced Tim Brasic has the inside line on the job after running a similar attack in high school, but he's a limited talent who'll be challenged up until opening day. Second, there has to be one starting quarterback and little wavering. Last year was a nightmare with an ugly quarterback shuffle that killed any hope of consistency and didn't allow anyone to find a rhythm. Kisan Flakes is a good-looking young prospect, but he'll have to fight off incumbent starter Chris Pazan as well as Brasic. Player to keep an eye on: Kisan Flakes, RFr. ... Quarterback Rating: 6Projected Starter
- Tim Brasic, Jr. - Brasic has a little bit of experience from 2003, but didn't get any time in the quarterback mess of last year. He isn't big, but he has a good arm and decent mobility fitting into what Ed Zaunbrecher is looking to do with the attack after running the spread formation in high school. He's a shotgun quarterback who completed 18 of 27 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.

Top Backups
- Kisan Flakes, RFr. - The most talented quarterback on the roster, the 6-1, 190-pound redshirt freshman is a smart all-around player with a live arm and the best rushing skills of the quarterbacks. He's not all that big, but he has the talent to grow into the offense in time after an inconsistent spring.
- Chris Pazan, Jr. - The starter at the end of last year, Pazan finished with 292 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He's a big and accurate passer who'll be given every opportunity to win back the starting gig. He's a streaky player who can be tough to stop when he gets on a roll.

Running Backs
There's a lot to get excited about with the tremendous 1-2 punch of E.B. Halsey and Pierre Thomas returning. They're powerful backs who can cut on a dime, and they should combine for well over 1,500 yards if they can stay healthy. There's good talent behind them with steady reserve Marcus Mason and hot-shot freshman Rashad Mendenhall looking to get a chance. Jason Davis isn't a big blocker, but he's a great receiving fullback.
Player to keep an eye on: Rashad Mendenhall, Fr. ... Running back rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- E.B. Halsey, Jr. - When healthy, Halsey is one of the Big Ten's most dangerous weapons as a runner, punt returner and a receiver. At 200 pounds, the junior has decent power to go along with his ightning quick moves. He can be a home run hitter and a great decoy as defenses spend the most time game planning for him.
- Pierre Thomas, Jr. - While not as big or as quick as E.B. Halsey, Thomas runs with a big more power averaging 5.9 yards per carry with a team-leading 893 yards and eight touchdowns. He's also an effective kickoff returner averaging 27.1 yards per return last season and finished as the Big Ten's leader in total yards. He hasn't be used much as a receiver, but he can catch.
- Fullback Jason Davis, Sr. - The senior veteran of the backfield, the 220-pound Davis is a good change-of-pace back finishing third on the team with 230 yards and a touchdown and is an excellent receiver finishing second with 41 catches for 340 yards and two touchdowns. He's a decent, but not elite blocker.

Top Backups
- Marcus Mason, Jr. - A reserve runner and kickoff returner, the 200-pound junior has 242 career yards but hasn't scored. He's built to be a quick workhorse who needs carries to get going, but he'll serve as a backup again.
- Rashad Mendenhall, Fr. - The star recruit averaged 9.1 yards per carry as a senior and will be given every shot to see playing time. He's lightning fast with a great nose for the end zone, but he could be lost in the running back shuffle early on.
- Fullback Russ Weil, Soph. - At 240 pounds, Weil is a pure power fullback used just for his blocking. He spent the end of last year as a starting linebacker finishing with ten tackles, and now he'll be a bigger option than Jason Davis in the backfield.

The receivers should be far more productive in the new attack. Consistency at quarterback wouldn't hurt their development, but they need to be more explosive as well. Kendrick Jones had a phenomenal year considering all the issues with the offense, but he could use a steady number two wide receiver to take the heat off. Jason Davis, a fullback, was the number two receiver and back E.B. Halsey was fourth; that can't happen again. There are several good, speedy options ready to breakout led by sophomore DaJuan Warren and junior Franklin Payne. The tight ends are inexperienced and need to become blockers.
Player to keep an eye on: DaJuan Warren, Soph. ... Receiver rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Kendrick Jones, Sr. - Suffering from inconsistent quarterback play, Jones still had a great season leading the Illini with 47 catches for 687 yards and five touchdowns averaging 14.6 yards per catch. At 6-2 and 180 pounds, he's a good sized receiver with excellent deep speed and decent hands, but he has to be consistent and be the true number one receiver good enough to make plays even when he's the focus of the defense's attention. He started off last year with 211 yards against Florida A&M and UCLA and failed to hit the century mark again.
- DaJuan Warren, Soph. - Warren became stronger as last year went on finishing with six catches for 52 yards. At 6-3, he's a big target with excellent athleticism and quickness and tremendous deep speed. Now he has to use it.
- Tight end Melvin Bryant, Jr. - The experienced junior only caught 12 passes for 111 yards, but he made three scoring grabs as a prime target in the red zone. More of a big wide receiver than a true tight end, the 235-pounder is an average blocker but a good route runner.

Top Backups - Franklin Payne, Jr. - Payne became a factor when starter Lonnie Hurst was hurt catching 25 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. He'll start out behind Kendrick Jones and use his quickness and good hands in three wide sets.
- Lonnie Hurst, Jr. - Hurst is still trying to get back from a knee injury suffered in the middle of last year. He was a good midrange threat averaging 11.3 yards per catch for his career, but has to prove he can come back healthy and have his same speed burst.
- Frank Lenti Jr., Soph. - The 6-2, 180-pound sophomore will be used as a possession receiver seeing time behind DaJuan Warren. While not slow, he doesn't have the speed of Warren.
- Tight End J.R. Kramer, RFr. - At 6-5 and 220 pounder, Kramer is a good looking young receiver who should quickly work his way into playing time. He needs to become a more physical blocker.

Offensive Line
The line was average at best even with Bucky Babcock and Duke Preston. Now the two best players are gone and there's some reshuffling to be done needing a group of sophomores to play like seniors. Ben Amundsen and James Ryan are good looking young guards, while Jim LaBonte has the talent to grow into a top all-around tackle. There's no experience among the reserves.
Player to keep an eye on: Ben Amundsen, Soph. ... Offensive line rating: 6

Projected Starters
- Tackle J.J. Simmons, Jr. - One of the concerns of last year became a strength as the year went on as Simmons grew into the role at left tackle. He's more of a run blocker than a pass protector, but he has the feet and athleticism in a 6-6, 290-pound frame to be better at both.
- Guard Ben Amundsen, Soph. - One of the surprises of spring ball, the 6-6, 305-pound sophomore went from being considered in the mix at right guard to taking over the starting spot on the left side. He'll still have to fight off Martin O'Donnell this fall for the starting job, but he showed a tenacity and skill that should make him a fixture for the next few years.
- Center Matt Maddox, Jr. - Maddox moves from right guard to center taking over for the team's best blocker, Duke Preston. The 6-4, 290-pound junior is one of the team's strongest run blockers and should grow into the anchor of the line as the year goes on.
- Guard James Ryan, Soph. - The 6-6, 310-pound sophomore is the biggest lineman in the mix. He was a top scout team performer and decent backup, and now he'll take over Matt Maddox's vacated right guard slot.
- Tackle Jim LaBonte, Soph. - The 6-7, 300-pound sophomore saw a little bit of time as a reserve and will get the first look at left tackle. He's a mauling blocker who needs to quickly become a reliable pass protector replacing All-Big Ten performer Bucky Babcock.

Top Backups
- G Martin O'Donnell, Soph. - The starter last year making several freshman all-star teams, O'Donnell surprised as one of the team's best pass blockers. He's a smart player with enough experience to start, but he'll have to get his job back on the left side from Ben Amundsen.
- G Dan Motuliak,RFr. - While the 310-pound James Ryan appears to have the inside track at right guard, the 270-pound Motuliak is a bit more athletic and will push for time.


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Illinois defense

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Basically ... The defense struggled in every phase trying to overcome injuries and youth. The D is still extremely young, but it's athletic with good speed almost everywhere. The secondary will have to be a rock early with good safeties in Justin Harrison and Morris Virgil and rising corners Alan Ball and Charles Bailey. The undersized linebacking corps will be an issue early, where the ends have to generate more of a pass rush.

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[font=Arial, Helvetica]Returning Leaders
[font=Arial, Helvetica]Tackles: Justin Harrison, 79
Sacks: James Cooper, 2
Interceptions: Morris Virgil, 2
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Star of the defense: Sophomore SS Justin Harrison
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore LB Anthony Thornhill
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman DE Derek Walker
Best pro prospect: Harrison
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Harrison, 2) FS Morris Virgil, 3) Senior DT Ryan Matha
Strength of the defense: Safety
Weakness of the defense: Linebacker

Defensive Line
The line got shoved all over the place against the run and couldn't get into the backfield only registering 12 sacks. Three starters return and the newcomer, end Derek Walker, is the most promising of the bunch. There has to be more production from the tackles and Xavier Fulton has to be more than a big tackle on the outside and has to grow into the pass rushing role. If this group doesn't improve, the defense won't either.
Player to keep an eye on: DE Derek Walker, RFr. ... Defensive Line rating: 7

Projected Starters
- DE Xavier Fulton, Soph. - 6 tackles, 2 quarterback hurries ... The 270-pound sophomore started three games as a true freshman and will get the first look at one of the end spots. He didn't do much and couldn't get to the quarterback, but he has decent quickness in the body of a tackle.
- DT Ryan Matha, Sr. - 34 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 broken up passes ... At 300 pounds, Matha is the biggest player on the Illini line and the most experienced starting for the last two seasons. He grew into a better interior pass rusher leading the team in tackles for loss, and now needs to improve against the run.
- DT Chris Norwell, Soph. - 40 tackles, 2 tackles for loss ... Norwell had a good first season and is the team's most promising lineman. He's a bit undersized at 270 pounds, but he's a tremendous 6-7 athlete who should be better at getting into the backfield now that he knows what he's doing.
- DE Derek Walker, RFr. - The 6-5, 245-pound redshirt freshman has the speed to quickly become one of the team's most dangerous pass rushers. He's a tremendous athlete who'll be a fixture in opposing backfields once he learns the ropes.

Top Backups
- DT Adam Wilk, Jr. - Even though he has playing, he hasn't done much of anything failing to record a tackle in two years. He's a strong 6-5 and 275 pounds and has to be a factor behind Ryan Matha.
- DE Scott Moss, Sr. - 28 sacks, 1 tackle for loss ... Moss will be a reliable reserve as a decent part-time pass rusher. He has good size at 260 pounds and enough starting experience to challenge for the starting spot along with Derek Walker.

The athletes are there, but the experience isn't. J Leman and Anthony Thornhill struggled as freshmen and now have to play like tough veterans on the outside. It's all about the redshirt freshmen for the depth and in the middle with Remond Willis needing to shine right away. While it'll be a while before this undersized group comes together, it can move.
Player to keep an eye on: Remond Willis, RFr. ... Linebacker rating: 6

Projected Starters
- Anthony Thornhill, Soph. - 54 tackles, 1 tackle for loss ... Thornhill goes from being a solid backup to being a starter on the outside. He's a 215 pound athlete who can move. Now he has to prove he can make plays in pass coverage and get into the backfield on a consistent basis.
- Remond Willis, RFr. -Willis was a star high school running back who'll use his quickness in the middle. He's not all that big at 220 pounds, so he'll have to rely on his range and toughness against the run.
- J Leman, Soph. - 56 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks ... Leman had a strong year as a freshman getting getting time right away and starting the final five games of the season. He's a tough 6-3 and 220 pounds with a good nose for the football. He's the team's top returning veteran and has to grow into one of the leaders of the defense.

Top Backups
- Brian Grzelakowski, Soph. - A special teamer in his redshirt freshman season, Grzelakowski was a solid tackler and returned four kickoffs for 29 yards. He'll play in the middle behind Redmond Willis.
- Walter Mendenhall, RFr. - The high school running back is still learning the ropes at linebacker. With his speed, he'll be a valuable reserve behind Anthony Thornhill on the outside.
- Sam Carson, RFr. - One of the few pure linebackers in the bunch, the 225-pound Carson is a physical tackler with a great motor. He'll start off behind J Leman.

Defensive Backs
Young, young and younger. There are three starters returning, but the one missing, Kelvin Hayden, is a big one from a secondary that gave up 230 yards per game and allowed 20 touchdowns. Health is an issue highlighted by the loss of one of 2003's top tacklers, Travis Williams, who hasn't been able to show what he can do trying to come back from a hip injury. The corners looked good this spring and Morris Virgil is a rising playmaker moving to free safety.
Player to keep an eye on: CB Charles Bailey, Soph. ... Secondary rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- CB Alan Ball, Jr. - 37 tackles, 1 broken up pass ... With Kelvin Hayden gone, it's up to the 6-1 junior to become the team's number one corner. He's a good tackler, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy and hasn't done much when the ball is in the air.
- FS Morris Virgil, Sr. - 78 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 broken up passes ... The former running back has become one of the team's best defenders using his great speed as a big hitting safety. He's not all that big, but he's tough, has great instincts and versatile moving from strong safety to free safety.
- SS Justin Harrison, Soph. - 79 tackles, 1 interception ... Harrison has had a few injury issues missing most of spring ball with hip and hand problems. He needs to be back at 100% after finishing second on the team in tackles as a true freshman. Now that he knows what he's doing, he should grow into a star.
- CB Charles Bailey, Soph. - 17 tackles, 1 interception ... The 6-1, 195-pound sophomore was one of the standouts of spring ball and looks like, in time, he'll be a solid fill-in for Kelvin Hayden. He's a good tackler and the team's fastest defensive back.

Top Backups
- SS/FS Travis Williams, Sr. - 27 tackles .. .One of 2003's top defenders finishing third on the team with 91 tackles, Williams was knocked out of the fourth game of the season with a hip injury. He has big-time speed and can play either free or strong safety. - CB Sharriff Abdullah, Jr. - 4 tackles ... A decent reserve and a solid special teamer recovering a blocked punt for a score. He saw his playing time as a defensive back diminish only making four tackles compared to 31 he made as a freshman. - SS Kevin Mitchell, Soph. - 16 tackles ... A rising young reserve, Mitchell brings a bit more size at safety and is a good special teamer. He'll push for time behind Justin Harrison at strong safety, but he can also play free safety if needed. - CB James Cooper, Sr. - 28 tackles, 2 broken up passes, 2 sacks ... Cooper spent his first two years at running back before switching to the defensive side. He's quick and a good tackler and should be good now that he knows what he's doing playing behind Charles Bailey. He's the team's leading returning sacker.

Special Teams
Steve Weatherford is one of the nation's best punters and has a big-time leg on kickoffs. The return game should be excellent if E.B. Halsey can break a few punt returns. The punt coverage unit struggled since Weatherford often outkicked the coverage, but it needs to bring down the 13.5 yard per return average.
Special Teams rating: 8
- Placekicker Jason Reda, Soph. - 7-12 FGs, 26-27 extra points ... Reda had a rocky true freshman season only hitting six of ten field goals inside 40 yards. He has an average leg, but he should be more consistent now that he has a little bit of experience.
- Punter Steve Weatherford, Sr. - Weatherford had an All-America caliber season bombing away for a 45.4 yard average putting 23 inside the 20 and has a 44 yard career average. He was one of the team's best weapons and should be a star again on kickoffs as well. He'll be used for long field goals as well.

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Illinois Depth Chart
</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#ffffff><TABLE width=650 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=650 bgColor=#ffffff><HR>2005 Illinois Preview | Offense Breakdown | Defense Breakdown | Further Illini Analysis

<TABLE id=table4 width=644 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top align=left width=321>OFFENSE Returning Starters: 8
QB 15 Tim Brasic 6-2, 185, Jr.
11 Kisan Flakes 6-1, 190, RFr. OR
16 Chris Pazan 6-2, 210, Jr.

RB 26 E.B. Halsey 5-10, 200, Jr. AND
30 Pierre Thomas 5-11, 190, Jr.
23 Marcus Mason 5-9, 200, Jr. OR
5 Rashard Mendenhall 6-0, 190, Fr.

FB 34 Jason Davis 5-11, 220, Sr.
41 Russ Weil 6-0, 240, So.

84 Kendrick Jones 6-2, 180, Sr.
80 Franklin Payne 6-0, 185, Jr.

WR 8 DaJuan Warren 6-3, 195, So.
82 Frank Lenti Jr. 6-2, 180, So.

TE 88 Melvin Bryant 6-5, 235, Jr.
87 JR Kraemer 6-5, 220, RFr.

LT 57 JJ Simmons 6-6, 290, Jr.
60 Ryan McDonald 6-4, 270, RFr.

LG 69 Ben Amundsen 6-6, 305, So.
64 Martin O’Donnell 6-5, 290, So.

C 67 Matt Maddox 6-4, 290, Jr.
72 Kyle Schnettgoecke 6-3, 280, Sr.
RG 79 James Ryan 6-6, 310, So.
58 Dan Motuliak 6-4, 270, RFr.

RT 68 Jim LaBonte 6-7, 300, So.
73 Andrew Burk 6-6, 290, Jr.
</TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=321>DEFENSE Returning Starters: 7
DE 98 Xavier Fulton 6-5, 270, So,
52 Cyrus Garrett 6-3, 230, Jr.

DT 97 Ryan Matha 6-3, 300, Sr.
61 Adam Wilk 6-5, 275, Jr.

DT 96 Chris Norwell 6-7, 270, So.
65 Josh Norris 5-11, 250, Sr.

DE 91 Derek Walker 6-5, 245, RFr.
90 Scott Moss 6-3, 260, Sr.

LB 51 Anthony Thornhill 6-1, 215, So.
3 Walter Mendenhall 6-0, 200, RFr.

LB 48 Remond Willis 6-0, 220, RFr.
35 Brian Grzelakowski 5-11, 210, So.

LB 47 J Leman 6-3, 220, So.
43 Sam Carson 6-1, 225, RFr.

CB 18 Alan Ball 6-1, 175, Jr.
22 Sharriff Abdullah 5-8, 180, Jr.

FS 20 Morris Virgil 5-10, 195, Sr.
29 Jody Ellis 6-1, 180, RFr.

SS 32 Justin Harrison 5-11, 205, So.
42 Kevin Mitchell 6-0, 190, So. OR
28 Travis Williams 6-1, 185, Sr.

CB 24 Charles Bailey 6-1, 195, So.
25 James Cooper 5-11, 200, Sr.

P 37 Steve Weatherford 6-4, 205, Sr.
PK 13 Jason Reda 6-0, 185, So.

Illinois further analysis<HR>By John Harris | Illinois Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Get the 2005 CFN Preview in print

With a fresh set of downs…

1<SUP>st</SUP> and Ten – Have no fear, the Zooker’s here! – Imagine what your life has been like the past ten months. You’re the head coach of one the most storied football programs in the country, following one of the greatest college coaches to ever walk the sideline. The critics sneered at your game coaching abilities, but said no one could out recruit you. In truth, no one outworks you. Then, on a late October in Starkville, Mississippi, it all comes to a head in a loss over a struggling Mississippi State team. The next Monday, you’re out of a job, and your future is up in the air. But, the heart that your team plays with and the class with which you conduct yourself amongst the chaos afforded you another opportunity. You’re Ron Zook and you’ve been given a blank canvas at the University of Illinois. That’s the best tonic a coach could have after the ‘Florida Experience’. What some media people and critics miss is that he’s beloved by his players, but was the victim of some sub-standard recruiting just prior to his taking the job at Florida. But, Zook brought the level of Gator players up to the standard that everyone was used to in the next two years. Chris Leak. Andre Caldwell. Joe Cohen. Yes, Zook knows how to recruit, but the man can coach, too. Sure, there seemed to be a discipline lacking somewhat while he was there, but how many times did the Gators win in Tallahassee while Steve Spurrier was coach? Um, zero. Zook? One. The point with all of this is that the University of Illinois has a coach that has been through the ringer, but those lessons that he learned are going to make him a tremendous leader for a team that needs a shot of positive, a shot of enthusiasm and a shot of hard work and passion. He’ll bring players in, no question, but he never had the time to cultivate them at Florida. At Illinois, given the expectation level, he should have time to bring these players up the right way, and make the Illini faithful as proud of their football team as they were of Bruce Weber’s roundball squad this past season. It won’t be easy, but the man that’ll lead them knows what hard work is all about.

<TABLE cellSpacing=7 width=301 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width="100%"><TABLE id=table1 cellSpacing=7 width=301 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD align=middle width="100%"><!-- ---------- 300x250 Code -------------- --><!-- ---------- Copyright 2000,---------- --></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>2<SUP>nd</SUP> and Seven – You Wouldn’t Have Thought – When you think of Illinois football, you don’t think about them having players. They’ve been down for a while, but when you look at the running back depth chart, it’s evident that the Illini isn’t lacking in that department. Pierre Thomas was the team’s leading rusher last year. EB Halsey was the team’s leading rusher the year before that. And, a rookie, Rashard Mendenhall, brother of another talented running back Walter Mendenhall, may be better than both of them. Somehow, somewhere the Illini offensive staff has to get these players the football in the most creative of ways. Who gives or gets it to them is another question.

3<SUP>rd</SUP> and Three – Speaking of Signal Callers – Two returning QBs with limited game experience. Three redshirt freshmen who are all thinking that it’s his time. Five guys, one job. You’d like for one of those five to be Matt Leinart or Vince Young, but when the names are Tim Brasic, Chris Pazan, Kisan Flakes, Billy Garza and Mark Venegoni, it’s an extremely tough call on the starter. Brasic had a stellar spring game, so he could jump the forefront, but this is a battle that will probably go all the way up to the week before the team’s opener against Rutgers.

4<SUP>th</SUP> and One – “I’ll take a Pastrami and Cheese on Rye” – Thinking of the three levels of defense – DL, LB and Secondary – as a sandwich, Illinois essentially has solid returning ‘bread’, but some weak returning ‘meat’. The DL returns everyone, with the exception of end Mike O’Brien. The secondary returns everyone, with the exception of first day draft pick Kelvin Hayden. Linebackers lose leading tackler Matt Sinclair and Mike Gawelek, which puts additional pressure on that position. The secondary, in particular, has some good talent with safety Morris Virgil at safety and Alan Ball at corner, but must be consistent in all phases and be ready to support the run to help the relatively inexperienced linebacking corps.


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10. Illinois 3-8 (1-7)[/font]

Two Cent Overview
The entire team will be better than it was last year, but that might not be saying much. The offense will live or die with Zook's ability to find a quarterback. The defense has potential and is relatively fast. Everybody involved in the special teams returns, so look for that to be a key to a win this year that they probably had no business winning.

Sept. 3 Rutgers (W)
Sept. 10 San Jose State (W)
Sept. 17 at California (L)
Sept. 24 Michigan State (L)
Oct. 1 at Iowa (L)
Oct. 8 at Indiana (W)
Oct. 22 Penn State (L)
Oct. 29 Wisconsin (L)
Nov. 5 at Ohio State (L)
Nov. 12 at Purdue (L)
Nov. 19 Northwestern (L)

Something To Look For
The offense. While the Big Ten defenses are catching up with the spread offense, it is still the "Get Rich Quick Scheme" of college football. Zook brings his offense from Florida, and while it may not translate into victories, it should translate in competitiveness. For instance, instead of losing by seventeen points, they'll only lose by nine.

Returning Starters
Seven on offense, seven on defense and both the place kicker and the punter.

Best Player
Running back Pierre Thomas. He runs, he catches, and he returns. Ron Zook needs to get at least 200 carries out of Thomas. Last year Thomas only carried the ball twelve or thirteen times per game, and averaged nearly six yards per carry. The passing game could be a very effective complement to Thomas' running. The offense isn't as far away as you would think.

Most Important Game
Northwestern. A home win during rivalry week would be a great way to end the season and get the momentum going for 2006.

Best Reason They Won't Be Undefeated
Too many losses.

Player People Will Be Pleasantly Surprised By
Quarterback Tim Brasic. Had a very good spring and is running the same type of offense he had in high school. He should have decent numbers this year--especially when you consider what they've done the past couple of years.

Game On The Schedule That Glen Mason Is Jealous That He Didn't Schedule
Sept. 10: San Jose State

Something They Do Well
Move the ball. The category should actually be "Something They Will Do Well". The offense will get better as the season goes, and the more they get Pierre Thomas involved the better everything will be. Consider Pierre Thomas the "bacon" in a BLT. Without Thomas, the Illini offense is just a lettuce and tomato sandwich.

What's gotten worse?
Nothing? Everything was bad last year, but I don't know that anything is "worse" than it was last year.

Player Most Likely To Own A Restaurant
Kambium Buckner. I don't know what it would serve, but the name of he restaurant would be "Kambium" and if I saw it whilst driving by, I would assume that I couldn't afford to eat there.
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This is the B10 game that I'm least worried about. I'm still surprised Zook took on Illinois. If nothing else, this should be a nice break between Minnie and Northwestern.

Should be able to make a nice highlight reel out of this one :biggrin:
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I'm predicting A Ginn home Run on a PR. Weatherford is a great punter..but one time he'll out kick his coverage and then BOOM Ginn will be gone. Illinois lacks the team speed to compete with tOSU. The defense gets well this week. And the O gets a chance to continue improving.Plus first time for Illinois in the Shoe since 2001. All this leads to an OSU romp.
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All that needs to be said about Illinois is probably this:

Indiana 36, Illinois 13

Okay, so one game doesn't define a season. Was that a fluke?

Iowa 35, Illinois 7

Iowa's not so good this year. What have GOOD B10 teams done?

Penn State 63, Illinois 10
Michigan State 61, Illinois 14

Those last two were at home. Illinois "best" performance in the B10 so far may have been this past weekend. Look out, they're on a roll:

Wisconsin 41, Illinois 24

This game is truly Bambi at Godzilla during deer season. It's hard not to feel guilty for salivating over this one. We're bad people. :tongue2:
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DBB's Weekly Statistical Breakdown

It's time for my weekly comparison of how the Bucks and their opponent are performing relative to their opponents' averages.

Based on your feedback, this week I'll focus on differential output with head-head figured out. In other words, factor the game against you OUT of your opponents' averages, and how did you do compared to THAT?

For comparison purposes, I'll also post the numbers that include the head-head matchups.

  • 2.88 yards less than opponents give up on average (head-head factored in)
  • 3.59 points less than opponents give up on average (head-head factored in)
  • 3.40 yards less than opponents give up on average (head-head factored out)
  • 4.06 points less than opponents give up on average (head-head factored out)
  • 40.09 yards more than opponents gain on average (head-head factored in)
  • 7.74 points more than opponents score on average (head-head factored in)
  • 45.65 yards more than opponents gain on average (head-head factored out)
  • 8.78 points more than opponents score on average (head-head factored out)
.................................................. ..................................

  • 19.32 yards more than opponents give up on average (head-head factored in)
  • 7.66 points more than opponents give up on average (head-head factored in)
  • 22.27 yards more than opponents give up on average (head-head factored out)
  • 8.77 points more than opponents give up on average (head-head factored out)
  • 149.00 yards fewer than opponents gain on average (head-head factored in)
  • 17.03 points fewer than opponents score on average (head-head factored in)
  • 169.37 yards fewer than opponents gain on average (head-head factored out)
  • 19.38 points fewer than opponents score on average (head-head factored out)
.................................................. ..................................................

Things to note:
  • Illinois' differential numbers are NOT NEARLY the train-wreck that I thought they'd be.
  • But Illinois is still the worst scoring offense AND scoring defense that we've faced.
  • We (obviously) are the best defense they've faced.
So even though the numbers show that Illinois is better than their record indicates, they are still going to get drilled like your daughter on prom night.

Consider this:
  • We're giving up a little over 16 points a game.
  • Our opponents to date average 16 points more offense than Illinois.
  • The chances of a shut-out are actually low anyway, because the 1st team D is going to get more rest than Homer Simpson on qualudes.
Now let's use these numbers to attempt a comparison. I know, I know... But hey, this really doesn't take me very long to do.

Recall that Method 1 takes each team's Defensive average and adds the other team's differential offense. Method 2 takes each team's Offensive average and subtracts the other team's differential defense.

Method 1:

Illinois yards: 295.25 (avg OSU D) - 3.40 (Illinois O) = 291.85 Yards (Not on the first string they won't)
Illinois points: 16.63 (avg OSU D) - 4.06 (Illinois O) = 12.57 Points (Not on the first string)

OSU yards: 456.13 + 22.27 = 478.40 yards
OSU points: 40.00 + 8.77 = 48.77 points

OSU Wins: 49-13 (478 yards to 292)

Method 2:

OSU yards: 385.63 (avg O) + 45.65 (Illinois D) = 431.28 Yards
OSU points: 30.63 (avg score) + 8.78 (Illinois D) = 39.41 Points

Illinois yards: 379.5 - 169.37 = 210.13 yards
Illinois points: 20.13 - 19.38 = 0.75 points

OSU Wins: 39-0 (431 yards to 210)

Either way, OSU covers the opening 5-TD spread.

I for one believe that Tressel will button things up and play the bench and the game will end up a TD or two closer than this.
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