WEEK 10 GAME PREVIEW: ILLINOIS at OHIO STATE

Posted: November 3, 2012 in UME 2012

ILLINOIS 2-6    OSU 9-0

UME

The Urban Meyer Experience or UME keeps rolling on strong.  Two of this year’s new Illinois coaching staff were formerly on Urban Meyer’s Bowling Green staff of 2001-02. Head Coach Tim Beckman was the DC holdover from the prior BG staff, while current Co-OC Billy Gonzales was the WRs coach.  Gonzales went on to Utah and Florida with Meyer. Beckman, who actually knew Meyer from back in the day, didn’t follow his bud to Utah.  Instead he remained with Bowling Green, before helping OSU get to the title game against Meyer’s Gators in 2006. Beckman eventually became a head coach at Toledo, immediately installing a Meyer type Power Spread philosophy with great success before getting the Illinois job this year.

Obviously, former Coach Zook was himself a fan of the Power Spread concept so there really isn’t as much transition as one would expect after having a new coaching staff for the first time since ’05. Part of Zook’s problem was actually the turnover on his coaching staff every year. While the system stayed in tact, the new hires didn’t alway mesh smoothly.

This year wasn’t supposed to be this bad. There was a lot of experience back and in key positions. The PS concept was going to stay the same, possibly get better. And Phil Steele said that Illinios was set up for a 3rd straight Bowl appearance!  🙂   I like Phil’s Mag – no one knows talent and works harder than this guy. Are they a team ready for a big game – unfortunately, it is possible. So what’s happened so far?

 

What’s wrong with Illinios?

First off, I’m not sure that Beckman has the exact staff that he wants. Its fantastic to have two OCs that are from Urban Meyer’s school and the other from the RRod WV lineage. But there is a lack of experience for sure as neither has been a Coordinator at a major college before. The experience with Tim Banks on defense may be negated by his resume. Now I am not saying his resume looks bad – in fact, purely based on statistics, its very impressive. But at places made famous for offense by Brian Kelly – C. Michigan and Cincinnati – Banks would never be considered a “hot” prospect as DC.  So the jury is out with Beckman’s assistants and based on his time in Toledo, he certainly seems to be a Head Coach who likes to delegate – just like Urban.

Secondly, you have to factor in the massive amounts of injuries. Just like OSU, Injuries = Mistakes = Bad Football. Thankfully OSU has a major PS system with experienced coaches and a lot of blue chip recruits. OSU has survived where Illinois simply cannot.

Lastly, I don’t believe that they’re schedule is quite as cupcake as, say.. Penn State.  Or even ours. But ours is getting tougher at the end. Certainly compared to non-Big 10 schedules, Illinois’ is not that tough. But for the Big 10, its not the easiest either. But getting killed by Penn State – a team that doesn’t have much of a PS concept – but has an experienced staff, was probably the low point. That was a game that should have at least been competitive.

 

What I’d Like to See

Well, I didn’t count the missed Big Plays on Offense and the Big Play Screw Ups on Defense last week and I’m glad I didn’t.  Again, another slow start and many more bad mistakes. Not just Miller’s passing. There were missed assignments all over on all 3 sides of the ball. We win because of Coaching, Schemes and Talent. Plus a weak schedule. Penn State’s lack of aggression and PS ideas kept the game close at the start.

But it could have very quickly been a blowout with a better team with more PS schemes. O’Brien is a really good coach it seems and a very smart OC for sure. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated in College. He’s seen PS concepts at New England. IF he ever incorporates more of that – watch out!  But if not, then PSU will stay in the 9 win range year after year, imo.

I’m not going to count Big Plays this week. I really feel the time for that should be over now. We only have 3 games left. The bad starts, the missed opportunities and the blatant lack of execution needs to really get better the next 3 games.  If it doesn’t we probably will lose our last 2 games, even though we have the better schemes and coaching and comparable , if not better, talent. We may even lose this one, if Illinois is fired up and finally puts a good game together.

I want to see in this order:

1- Fewer mistakes – by the whole team.

2- The Defense continues to play hard even when we are pulling away with a lot of points. This happens a lot to teams -its hard to stay focused with all the points. But we need to get used to this, because the Offense is only going to get better. There’s got to be a way to stay focused. Most defenses can’t do it. I trust our Staff to start finding something that works.

3 – Get off to at least an “ok” start for once.

 

PREDICTION

I have a feeling, because of all the injuries and a better team we are playing than people realize, there are still going to be mistakes.  Hopefully, not quite as many. I think the start will be a little better, but maybe not great. IF our defense finally puts the clamps down in the 2nd half – we should finally get the blowout we have all been waiting for.

Its up to the D in the 2nd half whether we win close again or finally have it a little bit easier. Either way we should win. Because even if its close, our experience from this year will see OSU thru. Illinois hasn’t won enough this year to pull out this kind of win on the road.

~PS

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