Way Too Familiar

Sep 18, 2021

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Let's start here:

I predicted the score to be 27-24. I thought we'd rebound from the awful performance at Virginia and I think we rebounded from the awful performance at Virginia quite well. The defense was much improved, the offense had its moments, and the game I was hoping to see, I saw.

Here's what I mean by that. The last few lines of the SOC from last night:

Do I think that might mean an Illini win? I do not. But I think it might mean an Illini cover. The starting QB returns, Bret Bielema said they're going to tighten up the rotations a bit because they now know who they want to utilize the rest of the season, and I can see a rebound performance from Illinois while Maryland gives a "why do bad things keep happening?" performance.

I think that means we keep the game close. But I don't think that means we win.

Maryland 27, Illinois 24

I see nearly exactly that. "A rebound performance from Illinois while Maryland gives a 'why do bad things keep happening?' performance." And the whole "I think that means we keep the game close but I don't think it means we win" thing was 100% accurate. Wrote out what I thought I'd see, that's what I saw.

So why do I feel so awful? I can tell you why I feel so awful. We Illinois'd the final five minutes and let them turn a 17-10 deficit into a 20-17 loss in regulation. This could have been everything I wrote above - an encouraging loss where we rebounded after a drubbing last week - and yet it wasn't because we hit on all the Illinois notes in the final five minutes. Can you design a more "we're Illinois football and we can't be trusted" five minutes? I just went though all of this in the From The Stands but it bears repeating. After second and four from the Maryland 40...

  • Two yards on second down
  • One yard on third down.
  • Punt instead of going for it on fourth and 1 from the Maryland 41.
  • Watch Maryland march right down the field.
  • Wince as Maryland gets to the 10 with a run where the guy broke four tackles.
  • Cover our eyes and Maryland scores on the next play with another two broken tackles.
  • Get the ball back and start to think about driving for the winning field goal.
  • IMMEDIATELY regret that thought after the first sack when "oh God, we might have to punt and Maryland could win this in regulation" entered our brains.
  • Cover our eyes as intentional grounding pushes us back to 4th and 37. Our two-minute drill to go win the game ended up in 4th and 37.
  • Punt from our endzone, giving them the ball in our territory.
  • Watch helplessly as they drive right down the field to set up a short field goal.
  • Watch the field goal sail through the uprights and lean into that feeling that is way, way, WAY too familiar.

I'm just so very tired of that feeling. This should have been "nice rebound after the Virginia debacle" but instead it's just "oh man we lost in regulation the only way a team could lose that game in regulation: we Illinois'd it".

And until we stop Illinoising things, we're just always going to... well, fine, yes, it's all very simple.

We're Illinois Football And We Can't Be Trusted.

+ Actually, you know what moment felt like the most Illinois moment of the game? It's when both Chase Brown and Josh McCray were injured and left the game. We figured out the running game, we're really starting to grind out some yards, and then both tailbacks go down with injuries and have to leave the game.

Which makes me think of Calvin Hart in the opener. We have this transfer linebacker who is All-Everything against Nebraska... and then he gets injured late in that game and is out for the year. And now, tonight, we have these two tailbacks who are really running hard. And then both are knocked out of the game with injuries.

That Illini drive that got to the 40 but then we punted? I have to think second and four or third and two are converted if McCray or Brown were on the field. Maybe the entire game spun on those two injuries.

Why does this always seem to happen?

+ Maybe it's just the fact that it's after 2:00 am and my brain is loopy but is there a curse on Illini passes to the tight end? Like, does the bulldozer that was buried under the field after it got stuck in the mud during construction somehow curse our ability to throw to the tight end?

Look at the two massive TE moments in this game. First, right after Seth Coleman rips the ball out and we're set up in Maryland territory, Brandon Peters is throwing to Luke Ford, sails the pass over his head, and it's picked off.

And earlier in the game, when we had first and five from the seven (play our cards right and we could have scored on six consecutive 1.25 yard runs) and we try throwing to Daniel Barker over and over and over and we can't get him the ball so we settle for a field goal.

It's the buried bulldozer, right? None of this will change until we dig up the bulldozer. Sure, it's late, and I'm loopy, but now I'm 100% certain the bulldozer is the reason we cannot get the ball to our tight ends.

+ I have to think that there's a QB battle now. I hate to say that because I wanted BP to have a huge senior season, but 10 for 26 with an interception (plus the two sacks and a grounding call on the final two-minute drill) probably means that there's an open battle at QB in practice this week. 10-26 with an interception from one QB, 32-43 with no interceptions from the other QB. There's your ballgame.

OK, I'm actually falling asleep now. Which is fine, I guess. Not much more to say.

Until we stop doing Illinois things, we're always going to be Illinois.


Chief4ever on September 18, 2021 @ 03:03 AM

Peters should never have been the qb. Not for the last 2 years, not now. Should never be again. Put Deuce back there. Much more athletic, and is it possible to be MORE inaccurate or make awareness WORSE decisions, or hold the ball longer?

HiggsBoson on September 18, 2021 @ 05:49 AM

Peters has never been a good quarterback.

NC_OrangeKrush on September 18, 2021 @ 08:24 AM

If all you are going to do is run straight into 8 man fronts.. Then I agree... But Isaiah or Deuce back there with a running back...

HiggsBoson on September 18, 2021 @ 05:56 AM

That was a total coaching failure to blow the game at the end. Four games in and Bielema is already attacking fans and media because they might criticize him. Very "Illinois", but with more belligerence. I'm ready for basketball.

ATOillini on September 18, 2021 @ 07:35 AM

Turned the tv off as the field goal sailed through the uprights. Listened to From the Stands around 2 a.m. when I came back downstairs for a piece of toast because I couldn’t sleep.

I thought you were remarkably calm (and accurate) given what transpired. I always try and put myself in the shoes of an opponent’s fan. The fact is, at that pivotal 3rd and 2 a Maryland fan is thinking “We are going to lose this game due to stupid mistakes when we’re obviously the better team”.

Maybe the most “Illinois thing” of all to this observer is watching an absolute coming out party for Josh McCray (a player you had in the high 70’s of the 90 Illini) cut short due to a freak teammate induced injury before I could even get too excited. When I saw the field view replay of his touchdown run, I immediately thought we may actually have something here…..bigger, faster, stronger. We need a lot more of that.


Ellisrt1031 on September 18, 2021 @ 07:37 AM

You had to have the courage to go for the win on fourth and one. The fans knew what was coming if Maryland got the ball back down seven. I have to say even I didn't envision losing in regulation at that time. Peters, unfortunately, has never been able to quite figure out quartebacking even with Michigan level talent. He has the arm and athleticism but is missing something. Seems like composure but I am unqualified to say.

O&B4life on September 18, 2021 @ 08:22 AM

completely agree.

After Peters overthrew Ford for the INT, the cameras showed him on the sideline. He was alone - not a single player came up to him. That says something. Do his teammates believe in him as QB1? His career is going to follow the Jon Beutjer and Wes Lunt path -- big arm QB transfers into Illinois. Looks the part, can seemingly make throws in practice, but can't get it done during games.

Eagle on September 18, 2021 @ 12:29 PM

Have to correct the Lunt narrative. Before his second last injury, the announcers had just commented how he was in the top 15 in a number of QB stats. Injuries limited his mobility which made him even more vulnerable. He did produce a number of 300 yd games when he was healthy.

I'm on the same page though as far as current QB's. Compare Peter's decision timeframe with MD's QB. They consistently got the ball out quicker and hit receivers. I'd also love to see Deuce,.

O&B4life on September 18, 2021 @ 01:03 PM

Totally with you on Deuce

twilson77@comcast.net on September 18, 2021 @ 08:40 AM

As Robert and everyone else already noted, if BB doesn't realize yet that this is Illinois and NOT Wisconsin, he goes-for-the-win on 4th and one! That was SO Lovie to punt from the MD 40 and to pick-up only 20 yards......Let's hope BB throws caution to the wind next time and shows he at least understands that you absolutely HAVE to go for it...the decision was an easy one for me coming-off of two straight losses, and because with Peters at QB and the way he was playing against MD; with your top two (2) runners sidelined; and with your O-Line having a sub-par game due to injury-caused changes, you were NOT scoring again in regulation should MD tie the game---BB had to make MD use timeouts and burn clock to and get three (3) points there!! At this stage of your re-build, BB, NEVER COACH THE BELOVED "NOT" TO LOSE!

Boneyard Surfer on September 18, 2021 @ 08:55 AM

New coach, same Illinois team.

It would have been more entertaining to watch Bielema and Locksley sumo wrestle for it. They’re both built for it.

ktcesw on September 18, 2021 @ 09:09 AM

We were able to run because we finally decided to throw the ball against their 8 and 9 man fronts. They had to quit stacking the line of scrimmage and gave us plenty of room to run. In the last five minutes of the game, everyone knows BB is going to try to pound the ball on the ground and MD went back to those 8 and 9 man fronts. BB's approach gave us this loss. OC's can only do what the Head Coach allows. This was abysmal!!

GilThorpe on September 18, 2021 @ 09:29 AM

it really is time to put someone new behind center . Purdue will know EXACTLY what to do if it Peters , and likely what to do if it’s Art

Mr Johnson , your table is ready

orangejulius on September 18, 2021 @ 01:12 PM

We don't have a winning QB on our roster. Let's face it.

NC_OrangeKrush on September 18, 2021 @ 09:33 AM

At the very least without the full O-line and without the key RBs on those last drives.. Use short and quick passes to guys in space to keep the clock moving at least.... Run up the middle with what you got left?? Come on...

At least try the Jet sweep vs. faking it every time... Feed the studs.. (you have on the field)

Eagle on September 18, 2021 @ 12:32 PM

I thought the same thing. A fake jet sweep does you no good if you never use it. We were way too predictable.

Bear8287 on September 19, 2021 @ 02:19 AM

That Illini drive that got to the 40 but then we punted? I have to think second and four or third and two are converted if McCray or Brown were on the field. Maybe the entire game spun on those two injuries.

I thought about this too and was hoping for a jet sweep to I. Williams, but he was out too?

Worse pass Peters threw? The sideline pass to Williams that he sailed over his head leaving him exposed to a nasty hit.

Refugee from Illinois on September 18, 2021 @ 09:54 AM

We certainly are ill-annoying.

AGig21 on September 18, 2021 @ 10:20 AM

Peters looks the part. Seriously, he's got the size and looks of a really good QB and it's playing tricks on us. He didn't get a lot of time, I'll give him that but a really good QB knows how to deal with that and take advantage of when he gets time or little time with an open target. He did neither.

Brave Illini on September 18, 2021 @ 10:38 AM

If you compare the performance of the players compared to what we expected going into the game, which ones fell short? Seems to me Peter's did, but not sure anyone else fell short of what I at least expected, not after Virginia. I agree with Robert, we likely now have a quarterback competition.

Joe Edge on September 18, 2021 @ 01:05 PM

We just don't have the horses... We're slow, we're soft, we're small with not a high football IQ, and the only true experience we have displayed is that for losing...

pbillini70 on September 18, 2021 @ 01:17 PM

First and 5 from the 7 yard line in the second quarter. Perfect time to put in your 240 lb. running back and give them the old "Wisconsin" power game. Instead our OC calls three pass plays. Why did BB allow that to happen?

IBFan on September 18, 2021 @ 02:55 PM

Our OL was garbage which helped Peters be garbage. Our OL and Peters were garbage because our OC is an idiot. Not shortening to quick routes, not adjusting drop, not adjusting play calling because OL can’t hold their blocks in pass protection, no jet sweep, no reverse, 1 draw(?).
IW pass to the sideline when the DBs are hugging line? What? How about a slant? Maybe two or three passes to the TEs to the flat and the pop an out and up and watch Barker or Ford go the distance. Just so much can be done to utilize what we do have and instead he calls for a vertical 40 yard pass to a slow Casey Washington. If you call that play, Deuce. The stupid run with Peters in the red zone? Why? So he can take another hit? This was a coaching travesty. Very proud of the effort the players gave. Very happy with the defensive adjustments overall.

MuckFichigan92 on September 18, 2021 @ 04:09 PM

The stupid run with Peters in the red zone? Why? So he can take another hit? This was a coaching travesty.
So many reasons that play was just egregious.

I hoped BB learned about trick plays from Haden Fry. Blocked FG or punt on 4th and 1 tabled for a trick play would have won the game. Can't be fearful. Illinois fb can't lose much more so why not gamble?

thumpasaurus on September 18, 2021 @ 05:12 PM

The “breakout game cut short by injury” thing we like to do is super cool and fun, it’s like reliving the Mike Dudek experience over the course of a few hours

neale stoner on September 18, 2021 @ 08:35 PM

A subject for Robert’s opinion, whenever it suits him: the BS about building an “Illinois” offense and defense is just that. BB & Co. are trying to build the Whisky/Iowa model. Look at the plays they call and how they have deployed people. Duece at QB? Forget it. Apparently Bielema has forgotten Russell Wilson. We play other people’s castoff statues instead. Will we beat Iowa and Whisky at their own game? What did White, Mackovic and Turner do? They are not only trying to execute a 30 year old model, they are lying to us about it.

The Olaf Rules on September 18, 2021 @ 09:31 PM

Brad Underwood figured out his original schemes weren’t working, changed them to fit his personnel, and look at what happened.

I hope BB does the same.

Bear8287 on September 19, 2021 @ 02:25 AM

Difference between a "good" coach and a "great" coach.

Good coaches can recruit to a scheme and win with it. Great coaches can adapt to the talent at hand and make the most of it.

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