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Illini, Huskies like to pick up pace with no-huddle

Sports reporter Steve Greenberg studio. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times.

Sports reporter Steve Greenberg in studio. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times.

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Updated: October 15, 2013 7:30AM

Five things I don’t want to know yet about Saturday’s Illinois-Washington game at Soldier Field but am afraid I already do:

1. Illinois isn’t the only team that has embraced an up-tempo approach on offense. The 19th-ranked Huskies (1-0) are running a lot of no-huddle and seemed to tire out Boise State’s defensive front in their opener. Depth is certainly an issue for the Illini (2-0), whose defense will struggle with the pace.

2. Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be a bear and a half to cover over the middle, especially if quarterback Keith Price can open up the whole field by finding his wideouts early on the perimeter. Any linebacker caught in single coverage on Seferian-Jenkins is a dead duck. He’ll score at least once.

3. Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will blow past 300 yards passing again. How about another 400-yard outing? It could happen. The problems will be avoiding momentum-stealing sacks and interceptions.

4. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will try to establish much more of a traditional running game than the Illini have had thus far. They tried to run between the tackles in the opener, but Southern Illinois wasn’t having it. Cubit called several end-arounds and jet sweep-type plays in the big victory over Cincinnati, but Washington will be on the lookout for those. It’s time for Illinois to pick up some first downs the old-fashioned way, or at least try.

5. Bishop Sankey, the Huskies’ dynamite running back, will put the game away with a long run in the fourth quarter. He’s too explosive through the hole to be bottled up for three-plus hours.


Twitter: @SLGreenberg

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