CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois defense is looking for a fix and first year coordinator Aaron Henry is taking a wholesale look at his group to find answers after two lackluster games to open the season.

“Everything’s on the table because the standard of defense of which we’ve played is unacceptable,” Henry said Monday during his weekly press conference.

The Illini (1-1) are coming off a 34-23 loss at Kansas in a game that the Jayhawks racked up 539 yards of total offense, scoring 28 first quarter points to take a comfortable lead into the second half. After Illinois posted the top ranked scoring defense in the country a year ago, allowing just 12.8 points per game, this year’s unit has largely struggled to find its footing. Gone from that group are three NFL Draft picks in Devon Witherspoon, Quan Martin and Sydney Brown, along with defensive coordinator Ryan Walters, who is now Purdue’s head coach. Despite the small sample size of two games, the Illini rank 125th in the country out of 131 teams in total defense, and 105th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 31 points per game.

“As the guy that’s the leader of it, I have to take everything into consideration on how we operate from a schematic standpoint and is that the best thing for us moving forward?” Henry said. “I think it boils back down to technique, fundamentals and details. I still think we’re really, really good but when we just don’t do our job and don’t do our assignment, it’s glaring.”

Henry added it’s been a long two days in the Smith Center since arriving back from Kansas, with multiple tough conversations with his fellow coaches and players. Head coach Bret Bielema says the talks are all part of a learning process.

“One of the best things that can happen is you grow a lot from difficult conversations, right?” Bielema said Monday. “And obviously when you have things that you need to correct and things that need to be done, those conversations aren’t as easy as when you were successful, right? So we had to have some conversations but on the same point, you can’t let Kansas beat you twice.”

Even if Kansas doesn’t beat Illinois twice, Penn State has the personnel to come to Champaign and leave with a win. The Nittany Lions (2-0) are ranked No. 7 in the latest AP released Monday, and are currently two touchdown favorites. PSU last visited Memorial Stadium in 2018, leaving with a 63-24 win. The Illini are hoping to muster some 2021 vibes, when they went to Happy Valley and left with a nine overtime victory. Ironically enough, the Nittany Lions were also ranked seventh that week, playing as 24.5-point favorites.

There is good news for Illinois on the injury front, with Bielema announcing starting safety Matthew Bailey should make his season debut this weekend. The sophomore has been sidelined since the spring with a foot injury. Other notable news from Bielema included Julian Pearl’s status. The Danville native is expected to be ready for play after dislocating a finger last Friday. He left the game at Kansas but eventually returned with a wrap on his right hand. Also on Monday, Bielema announced Ezekiel Holmes should be in uniform against Penn State, he hasn’t played since hurting his knee last season. The expectation is for Holmes to be cleared medically, how he performs during practice will determine how much time he sees on the field.