Illini put up good fight vs. Huskies, but ‘D’ gives up 615 yards
September 14, 2013 10:52PM
Washington's Jesse Callier (24) heads upfield and outruns the Illinois defense during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, in Chicago. Washington defeated Illinois 34-24. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
Washington 0 10 21 3 — 34
Illinois 0 3 14 7 — 24
Wash—Sankey 31 pass from Price (Coons kick), 11:09.
Ill—FG Zalewski 40, 8:27.
Wash—FG Coons 23, :28.
Wash—Sankey 1 run (Coons kick), 13:02.
Ill—Scheelhaase 2 run (Zalewski kick), 9:14.
Wash—Callier 39 run (Coons kick), 6:14.
Wash—Mickens 9 pass from Price (Coons kick), 3:32.
Ill—Lankford 72 pass from Scheelhaase (Zalewski kick), 3:16.
Ill—Bailey 10 run (Zalewski kick), 9:10.
Wash—FG Coons 32, 4:44.
TEAM STATISTICS Wash Ill
First downs 30 17
Rushes-yards 50-273 36-136
Passing 342 191
Comp-Att-Int 28-35-0 10-26-1
Return Yards 11 2
Punts-Avg. 3-47.7 5-45.2
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 12-104 6-65
Time of Possession 31:36 28:24
RUSHING—Washington, Sankey 35-208, Callier 6-66, Ross 1-7, Washington 2-2, Mickens 1-1, Team 1-(minus 2), Price 4-(minus 9). Illinois, Young 13-58, Ferguson 4-29, Scheelhaase 12-21, Davis 4-12, Bailey 1-10, Lankford 2-6.
PASSING—Washington, Price 28-35-0-342. Illinois, Scheelhaase 9-25-1-156, Osei 1-1-0-35.
RECEIVING—Washington, Mickens 8-51, Smith 5-104, K.Williams 4-58, Sankey 3-63, Seferian-Jenkins 3-8, Callier 2-30, Campbell 1-15, Perkins 1-9, Ross 1-4. Illinois, Lankford 3-100, Harris 2-10, LaCosse 1-35, Ferguson 1-27, Barr 1-11, Davis 1-8, Young 1-0.
Updated: October 16, 2013 6:59AM
No disrespect to the Illini and the Bears because they had a lot to do with it. But those teams from Cincinnati, the Bearcats and the Bengals, looked like they were auditioning for ‘‘Dumb and Dumber’’ last week.
This week figured to provide a lot more evidence, beginning with Illinois’ festive game at Soldier Field against No. 19 Washington.
Their spirits bolstered by a 2-0 start, the Illini were brought back to reality in a 34-24 loss Saturday against the Huskies.
But all was not lost in this first loss.
‘‘Our players came out knowing they had a chance to win this game and fought to the end,’’ coach Tim Beckman said.
The Illini (2-1), who trailed 10-3 at the half, found a way to hang around in that first half with their defense, which is looking better than anticipated — because not much was anticipated. That defense, which gave up a scary 615 yards, will need to get better. But the Illini have faith.
‘‘Last week, we won a big game [against Cincinnati], but I realized we weren’t as good as some people thought,’’ defensive coordinator Tim Banks said. ‘‘And today, I don’t think we’re as bad as some people think.’’
The party line is that the young Illinois defense needs to tackle better — and it will learn to do that in time.
‘‘If we were in this situation last year, it might have turned sour,’’ senior linebacker Jonathan Brown said. ‘‘But these guys fought to the end. They showed heart. With a performance like that, you can find the things you need to improve on.’’
And if the offense wasted two red-zone chances in the first half, it scrapped well enough in the second half that Illinois was only down 31-24 with less than five minutes to play.
After the Huskies (2-0) marched down the field with the third-quarter kickoff for a 17-3 lead, the Illinois offense answered with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard naked bootleg by Nathan Scheelhaase with four tight ends on the field.
With stuff like that, look for PBS to do a documentary looking inside the mind of new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit.
Can he keep coming up with new stuff? Or will opponents break down the film and come up with a book on his play-calling?
‘‘They’re gonna have to have a big book,’’ Cubit said. ‘‘I spend about three hours by myself at night. You just have to keep coming up with things. The good thing is, most of the stuff has worked.’’
The big question is whether Illinois, saddled with a 14-game Big Ten losing streak, will be able to pick some low-hanging fruit during a nasty conference slate.
The Illini believe the answer is yes.
‘‘Anytime you walk off the field without the win, there’s something missing,’’ Scheelhaase said. ‘‘We kept throwing punches, kept giving it all we had. It’s fun to be a part of that. I didn’t see that a lot last year. It was good to see that.’’