Illini players put focus on themselves to jump start offense

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The offensive numbers haven’t been good through five games for Illinois football. The Illini are 13th in the Big Ten in total offense, averaging 343 yards per game. That ranks 106th nationally out of 130 FBS teams. Combine that with a 108th ranking in scoring offense (13th in B1G), putting up an average of 20 points per game, and it tells a story of a 1-4 team struggling to find consistency on offense.

The Illini players say it’s on them to compete, get better and fight through the early season adversity to find a way to put more yards and points on the board. Illinois didn’t score a touchdown in a 13-9 loss at Purdue on Saturday, the first time the program failed to find the end zone for the first time since 2018 and the 63-0 loss to Iowa.

“Our mantra is, ‘Do your job’ so I go out there to try and do my job, other guys on the team do their job,” Illinois junior tight end Luke Ford said. “But it’s just about working together, coming together, we gotta mold more and get better in tune.”

One of the lone positives offensively against the Boilermakers was the play of true freshman Josh McCray. The running back carried the ball 24 times for 156 yards, the fifth-most rushing yards in a game by a true freshman in program history.

“You gotta point the thumb at yourself, and say, ‘What can I do more to help this team win,'” Illinois senior offensive lineman Alex Palczewski said. “We have a lot of good guys doing great things, Josh McCray had a hell of a game, all of our tight ends played very well, our team is doing the right stuff we have to just keep getting better every single day.”

Illinois hosts Charlotte (3-1) Saturday morning at 11 a.m. on Big Ten Network. The 49ers have as many Power 5 wins as the Illini this season, one. They beat Duke in the season opener.

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