Turnovers and pass defense, “It’s something we’ve got to clean up”

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois head coach put it quite simply, saying he just wants to see “better play.” Too many mistakes ended up costing them the game, falling 31-24 against Purdue on Saturday.

The Boilermakers took advantages when the Illini struggled to defend the pass game–Purdue threw for 376 yards. Despite the Illini having all of their defensive starters on Sunday, a slow start allowed Purdue to jump to an early 14-0 lead.

“Them getting behind us especially that longer 40-50 yard throw or so, those are the ones that are tough, but we continue to get plagued by touchdown passes,” says Smith. “It’s something we’ve got to clean up.”

“I’m not really worried about it two games in,” says senior linebacker Jake Hansen. “I think we have a couple things we can clean up and we’re going to be–I still think we’re a strong defense, and it hasn’t changed.”

On the other side of the ball, the Illini took a big hit. Starting quarterback Brandon Peters tested positive for COVID-19, and a dozen others had to sit out due to contact tracing or injuries. As a result, offensive lineman Doug Kramer was also out, so Kendrick Green had to step in to Kramer’s role at center. Matt Robinson replaced Peters, but left the game early with an injury. Coran Taylor played the rest of the game, throwing 273 yards. But Purdue took advantage of his four turnovers, intercepting him twice.

With no update on Matt Robinson’s injury, Taylor will likely start as quarterback against Minnesota. Peters will be out for 21 days per Big Ten protocol, Isaiah Williams will also miss the Minnesota game due to contact tracing. Taylor says he’s prepared to take more reps at practice.

“I attack the week the same way, the week the same way, whether I’m a fourth string, or soon to be first,” says Taylor.

“When you’re listed fourth on the depth chart, you don’t take a lot of reps at practice,” says Smith. But Coran has been around here a while, he knows our offense. There’s some other things that we need to do better, but he gave us the chance to win.”

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