Perry, Barnes bright spots for Illini as defense looks to improve against Purdue


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — In a game full of letdowns and missed plays for the Illinois defense, grad transfer defensive tackle Rod Perry and sophomore linebacker Tarique Barnes rose above the rest. Both players showed flashes and made an impact, despite the Illini giving up 45 points and 430 yards of total offense to Wisconsin.

Barnes came into the game after starter Jake Hansen went out a with concussion, and the sophomore finished with a game high 11 tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Perry disrupted the Wisconsin offense all night, finishing with three tackles and was credited with a half sack and half tackle for loss. The South Carolina State grad transfer was an FCS Preseason All-American pick before transferring to Illinois and comes in with high expectations. His family hosted a watch party to see the 6-foot-2, 300 pounder compete in his first Power 5 game.

“I saw their reactions to the plays I made and that’s what I live for,” Perry said. “It’s time to make a name for myself. I was ready for all the smoke, all the action, I wanted the pressure, so I was ready to compete.”

“I think it was good for him to see kind of how he matches up a little bit against other competition, but very pleased with how he played,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said. “It was a good coming out party for him.”

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