On Illinois offense, run game excels while passing game struggles

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — For the second-straight week an Illinois running back has made their mark in the record books. Chase Brown’s 257 yards against Charlotte are the fourth-most in program history. Freshman Josh McCray made the record books a week earlier against Purdue, becoming the 5th highest true freshman to rush for more than 100-yards. The run game has established itself on the Illini offense, but their passing game has struggled.

In Illinois’ 24-14 win against the 49ers on Saturday, Brandon Peters went 10 for 19 and threw his first touchdown pass of the season. In the last three games after returning from injury, the senior holds a 48.3 completion percentage. Even after a season-low 78 yards for the receivers, head coach Bret Bielema says he still has confidence in his QB1.

“They get much more scrutiny — positive and negative — of any position,” says Bielema. “So as a head coach, the trust and the faith you have in them has to be apparent to everybody. Otherwise everybody’s going to start shooting holes in them, and I think [Brandon Peters] will be the first to tell you that I handled him very aggressively probably in the last two weeks. You see this kid continue to get a little bit better, and we’re not anywhere we need to be, but I think this was a day that he could say was a step forward.”

Illinois will face their toughest test of the season, against Bielema’s former team next week. They will take on Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

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