WCIA — Through three games this season, the Illinois defense has been stout, only allowing two touchdowns on the year. One of the many reasons why they have found success has been junior cornerback Devon Witherspoon.

He received big recgonition on Monday, being named the Reese’s Senior Bowl Defensive Player of the Week. He led the Illini with 7 tackles, and 3 pass breakups against the Cavaliers. For the defense as a whole, holding the Cavs to just 3 points was a stark contrast to last season’s game in Charlottesville.

“The way [defensive coordinator Ryan Walters] and [cornerbacks coach Aaron Henry] coach them and teach them sound fundamentals, the pass break ups and then pass rush,” Bielema said. “I thought our pass rush took a big jump this week.”

“Great progress, just to get past from last week take a L and get a W now,” defensive lineman Keith Randolph said. “But I mean, it’s ACC ball. We’re just looking forward to the Big Ten now.”

“It just goes to show the people that’s in the building, the staff, the strength staff, Coach Tank [Wright], who changed our bodies, all our coaches who have gotten us in position and made great plays and it was up to us to just go out there and execute,” defensive back Kendall Smith said.

Illinois had its worst defensive game at Virginia last year, giving up 42 points and 556 total yards. The Illini have 12 days between games, before the host Chattanooga Thurs., Sept. 22.