Illinois defense gets boost after Maryland game: “I definitely feel like we needed that”


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois defense got a big boost from its performance against Maryland. The Illini (1-3, 1-1 B1G) held the Terrapins to 20 points, forced three fumbles (recovering two) and got off the field on third down, limiting Maryland to just 2 of 10 conversions. After back-to-back games where the unit struggled, allowing a combined 79 points and 1,053 yards of total offense against UTSA and Virginia, the Illini players say they left are more confident heading into Purdue.

“I definitely feel like we needed that, definitely with the past few games, it encouraged the defense and gave us a big boost knowing that we can do a lot better,” Illinois redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton said. “So I feel like that game against Maryland really helped the defense grow confidence.”

“We have a good defense, a great D coordinator and great coaches,” Illinois senior linebacker Jake Hansen said. “It’s just making the plays and being all on the same page.”

The Illini still allowed 481 total yards against the Terps but managed to stay in the game due to turnovers. They’ll face another high powered offense Saturday in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have the Big Ten’s fifth ranked offense, averaging 38 points and 487 yards per game, with 345 of those yards coming through the air. Purdue has the top ranked pass offense in the league, throwing for 1,729 yards this season, 16th best in the country.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.