Illini weren’t perfect, but a win is a win
By Steve Greenberg email@example.com | @SLGreenberg August 31, 2013 3:22PM
Illinois running back Donovonn Young dives for a touchdown in the second quarter, but he was outplayed by backup Josh Ferguson. | Bradley Leeb/AP
Updated: August 31, 2013 4:52PM
CHAMPAIGN — Was it perfect? Illinois couldn’t run the ball, didn’t generate much of a pass rush, failed to convincingly put away a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
It was far from perfect.
But really, now. These are the Illini. You might remember them going 2-10 in 2012. At this point, who in the heck needs perfect?
There were more than enough good things in the season-opening 42-34 victory over Southern Illinois for the home fans to feel good about. First and foremost, the victory itself. It was the first of those for Tim Beckman’s program in 349 long, hard days.
The offense — well, the passing game — showed more than a pulse. In Bill Cubit’s first game as coordinator, it was a revelation, with senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase throwing for a career-high 416 yards and two touchdowns.
We saw the first touchdown of true freshman quarterback Aaron Bailey’s career — a simple run up the gut from the 2-yard line — and a kickoff return for a touchdown, by V’Angelo Bentley, that was Illinois’ first one of those since 2008.
Trick plays — there were many of those, too.
So it was a fun first outing. Frankly, it was full of bad things, too. SIU’s point total is completely unacceptable … or is it?
Really, now. These are the Illini. For the next few months, wins will be extremely hard to come by. To have even just one in the bag is a very good thing.