After strong showing at Penn State, Illinois defense feeling confident

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois is certainly feeling better about its season after upsetting ranked Penn State on the road Saturday.

The defense’s performance against the Nittany Lions may have been their best so far. Since allowing 42 points to Virginia in Week 2, the Illini have not let up more than 24 points. They have had to do so for long parts of the season without Jake Hanses, Calvin Hart, and Devon Witherspoon. After keeping the Illini in games for much of the season, they finally got their statement win.

“It solidifies and reaffirms sort of what you’ve been preaching, what you believe in throughout the course of the season,” says defensive coordinator Ryan Walters. “You talk about how preparation, it breeds confidence.”

“We’re bringing the swag every day to practice,” says defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton. “It’s a lot of energy on the defense, we have a lot of confidence in ourselves. Now it’s just about doing our assignments and executing.”

The Illini are back at home Saturday with Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are averaging 24 points per game, 97th in the country.

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