CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football heads to Purdue for a Saturday afternoon game the healthiest its been in weeks. The Illini are set to get center Doug Kramer back after the senior missed the Maryland game with an injury. Danville native and Illinois sophomore Julian Pearl left the game against the Terps early after getting his second straight start at right guard. Both guys should be good to go in West Lafayette, as the line looks to solidify its play after the Terps recorded six sacks last week in a 20-17 win.
“Obviously me looking at my personal self, being able to execute my blocks better that’s all we really can do,” Illinois senior offensive lineman Blake Jeresaty said. “Each one of us has to look in the mirror and try to do our job better. That’s going to be the best thing we can do to help Brandon, so to do our job and execute the play that’s called upon us.”
Jeresaty started at center in place of Kramer, moving over from left guard where he started the first two games of the season. The Illini have started three different lineman combinations in four games.
“Blake (Jeresaty) did a great job, he went in there and played his butt off in there, but it would’ve been great to have Doug (Kramer) in there, and just be a little bit more healthy up front, and that matters anytime you lose somebody.”
The Illini (1-3, 1-1 B1G) line largely did its part in the run game, producing 150 yards on the ground. True freshman Josh McCray led the effort with 60 yards on just eight carries, including a 38-yard touchdown run for his first collegiate score. Illinois has the No. 5 team run-blocking grade in the nation at 86.0, according to Pro Football Focus. Pearl is rated as the No. 2 graded guard in the nation at 84.7 (min. 100 snaps) with Kramer ranked as the No. 6 graded center in the country at 80.4 (min. 155 snaps), both according to PFF.