CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito made sure to let his new offensive line know just how much he appreciated them after not getting sacked in the season opening 38-6 win over Wyoming.
“Listen, I’m not taking any shots here but I think this was the first game I’ve been in where I did not get sacked,” DeVito said to reporters, with a smile, following Saturday’s win.
And while it wasn’t actually the first time the Syracuse transfer had played in a game without getting sacked (it’s happened five other times), DeVito’s career with the Orange was plagued with pressure from opposing defenses. The quarterback suited up in 26 games at Syracuse and was sacked 81 times. That includes two games where he was sacked eight times per outing; in two other games he was sacked seven times a piece. DeVito was only hit once all game against the Cowboys and pressured twice.
It’s a successful first showing for an Illini offensive line replacing two NFL Draft picks in center Doug Kramer and tackle Vederian Lowe. There is a mix of both new faces and players suiting up in new places this season on the starting five. Alex Pihlstrom (center) and Julian Pearl (left tackle) played their first snaps at new positions, while junior college transfers Isaiah Adams and Zy Crisler both played for the first time as Illini on Saturday. The anchor of it all is right tackle Alex Palczewski, who broke the Illinois program record for career starts over the weekend at 53.
“We’re proud of ourselves coming together for the first time but then again we’re also not satisfied at all,” Illinois junior offensive guard Isaiah Adams said. “We know we can play a lot better, there’s a whole ‘nother level we can reach but I thought it was good stepping stone.”
“Going forward we want to move as one, as a whole unit so not just the guard chemistry but from left tackle to right tackle, all five of us,” Illinois offensive tackle Julian Pearl added.
The O-Line will look to take another step forward when it returns to the field for the Big Ten opener at Indiana under the Friday night lights at 7 p.m. CT on FS1.