Illinois Review

Well, let me just start off by saying that I thought Juice Williams was pretty good. Maybe one of the best QBs we'd play all year. And after 431 yards of total offense, the best by any player in Michigan Stadium's safe to say that he is.

Games like this make it tough to see any silver lining. On one hand, we led 14-3 at the end of the 1st quarter. On the other hand, we gave up 42 points in the remaining 3. And scored 6.

We thought our defense was going to be able to keep us in it. And for the most part, they did. With about 12 minutes to go in the game, it was 31-20. Surely a reasonable gap to overcome.

But chalk it up to pretty bad officiating, more turnovers, and just bad defense...and Illinois had the game in the bag.

Bad officiating I say? Well let me explain. In the first half, on a kick return, I don't remember tackled while running out of bounds. No call. A few plays later, on a third down I believe, a Michigan receiver had an Illini player draped all over his back before the ball got to him. No call.

Later in the game, if a Michigan DB even sniffed in the direction of a Illinois receiver, a pass interference call was made.

Look, I'm not going to cry sour grapes. Illinois beat us fair and square. All I'm saying is, I was in the top row of the stadium in the visitors section and I could see these calls. And even some Illinois fans were agreeing with me.

For all of the things that Michigan did well against Wisconsin of defense, we did bad in this game. We were not defending the run at all. We let Williams get outside way to much. On option plays, we always had players out of position, allowing Williams to run the option against usually 1 Michigan defender. Once they had that play established, and we never figured out how to stop it, they had their way with us.

Our defense spent way too much time on the field. Why else on a 3rd and 1 late in the 4th quarter, did Williams have the ability to run right up the middle for a 50+ yard run. Either that was a really busted play, or just really tired players.

No question that defensively, we are still very confused when trying to stop a spread/option. Our secondary still looked lost, running around and pointing before the snap. Our linebackers are still trying to get each other into position at the last second. And even out line was being told which gap to line up in by our linebackers. The whole defense just looked lost.

Offensively, not any better. We ran and passed well in the 1st quarter. We scored pretty much at will and drove the ball down the field with ease. And then, Illinois started blitzing on every down and our line started to fall apart.

Steven Threet, we are all figuring out, is just not cut out for this kind of role. He's a glorified MAC QB at best. I give him credit for being able to hold his own at times. He can get out of some hairy situations, but once the pressure really starts coming, he just doesn't know what to do. After watching Juice Williams run the spread to perfection, and then watching Threet not be able to run, and throw the ball 5 yards over Martavious Odoms' head about 6 times, it is clear that he's just not cut out for this role.

The play-calling, again was not great. The option read play to McGuffie was not there at all. Illinois was in the backfield to stuff that play almost every time. And we never really got away from doing that. On first down, they knew it was coming. And then second down we'd have Threet roll out and try some downfield pass. He'd either throw it 5 yards over the receiver's head or get tackled in the backfield, giving us 3rd and long.

It seemed like every 3rd down for us was over 10 yards, and every third down for Illinois was about 2 yards.

Chalk it up to another loss by a team of freshman. But you could argue the mostly experienced defense was no help either. A lot of work needs to be done this week. Toledo is a MAC school, but at this rate, we're in danger of keeping our undefeated streak against the MAC alive.

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