Illini showing signs of progress

Illini

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois sits at 2-2 on the season after losses to South Florida and Penn State, but watching those games it wasn’t hard to see that the program is making progress and the players feel it.

“We were never frustrated or anything, we were just calm, that’s the maturity of our team,” junior running back Reggie Corbin said. “But we beat ourselves, most of the time we beat ourselves. It’s not like they beat us that bad, we beat ourselves. So I think once we fix that, I think we’ll be solid.”

“We can play with anybody. I think we all knew that even before this game,” sophomore running back Mike Epstein added. “#10 team in the country, we were up on them in the 3rd quarter but we didn’t finish the right way so we got to learn to finish, play a complete game, and go from there.”

Craig:
“This is two weeks in a row now Illinois competitive against marquee teams this one a top ten opponent, signs of progress.”

ROBERT ROSENTHAL:
“Definitely signs of progress. The first three quarters were about the best football you’ve seen in Memorial Stadium since, gosh, three or four years. Competitive, take the lead on #10 with 15, 18 minutes to go in the game you still have that lead. It’s a sign that things are on track for what they’re trying to do in this long-form rebuild.”

Craig:
“This week we’re going to touch on both lines. We’re going to go offensive and defensive. Offensive first, you just said you feel like they’ve taken a step forward. The run game has been really impressive.”

ROSENTHAL:
“Definitely taken a step forward. I think last year averaged 105 yard per game on the ground, this year something like 245 so far so they’ve more than doubled their output from last year and they’ve played two decent defenses these last two weeks.”

Craig:
“Other side of  the coin, defense taking a step back. They’re allowing a lot of yards off the ground.”

ROSENTHAL:
“I think you’re seeing how much maybe James Crawford was a big part of things last year, he made the Packers 53 man roster this year. He was their defensive MVP last year, they’re missing him, they’re missing that guy on that edge. And maybe even Tito Odenigbo who transferred to Miami who would have been a senior this year, experienced, knows the defense. You’re missing those two guys and these young second and third year players just aren’t there yet and it’s a struggle.”

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