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The Monday After: Illinois football fails to capture the Cannon



Illinois football

Purdue dominates Illinois football 44-19 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.

Ross-Ade Stadium continues to be a house of horrors, and Purdue continues to be a thorn in the side of the Illinois Fighting Illini football team as the Boilermakers decimate the Illini in West Lafayette. A 21-point third quarter by the Boilermakers opened the floodgates in Saturday afternoon’s contest. If you turned on the game late or only saw the box score, you wouldn’t know that the game was close in the first half.

The Illini scored first on a 24-yard field goal by Caleb Griffin. The Illini blocked the extra point after a sack/fumble on Altmyer. Illinois led briefly after a five-play, 80-yard drive capped by a seven-yard Josh McCray touchdown run. Purdue scored ten unanswered points. Caleb Griffin hit a 53-yard field goal to end the first half, cutting the Boilermaker lead to 16-13 going into the locker room.

Then, the third quarter happened. Illinois seemed to have momentum going into the locker room. Purdue, however,  scored on three of its first four drives of the second half—Purduee quarterback Hudson Card connected with Garret Miller on a 28-yard touchdown pass. Then, running back Devin Mockobee ran for a three-yard touchdown. Finally, Card found Deion Burks for a ten-yard touchdown pass.

Illinois looked up and found themselves down 37-13. Here’s the good and the bad from Saturday afternoon.

The Good for Illinois Football:

Anytime you lose a game like Saturday, there isn’t much good. Though there wasn’t much good, there were some bright spots from Saturday afternoon.

  • Running back Kaden Feagin led the Illini in rushing Saturday afternoon. Feagin has all of the physical tools — 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds — to be a great running back. The offensive staff has shown increased trust in him over the last few games as his carries continue to increase.
  • Wide receiver Isaiah Williams continues to play well. Williams has back-to-back 100-yard receiving games and 233 yards receiving in his last two games. After averaging under ten yards per catch in 2022, he’s averaging nearly 15 yards per catch this year.

The Bad:

Too Many Miscues: Sloppy, inconsistent play continues to plague the Illini in 2023. Illinois committed nine penalties, allowed five sacks, and was 1 of 13 on third down. They had six drives of four or fewer plays, including three, three-and-outs. That is not going to get it done. Bret Bielema and his staff have to find ways to fix these miscues.

Missed opportunities: Illinois’ opening drive started with potential. However, they were only able to kick a field goal. Offensive coordinator Barry Lunney, Jr. had the perfect play drawn up on first-and-ten on the 15-yard line, but Altmyer overthrew tight end Tip Reiman. Altmyer had wide receiver Pat Bryant wide open on the first drive of the third quarter, but Bryant could not hold on to the pass. That would also have been a touchdown pass.

The line of scrimmage: Though the game was close in the first half, Purdue began to establish itself along the line of scrimmage early. The offensive line allowed three sacks and five quarterback pressures in the first half. The defensive line had just four tackles for loss. Running backs Devin Mockobee and Tyrone Tracy were hardly touched in the backfield on Saturday.

Injuries: Running back Reggie Love was out today. Offensive linemen Zy Chrisler and Josh Gesky left in the third quarter with injuries. Defensive end Jer’Zhan Newton was in and out of the lineup with an injury, as was nose tackle Denzel Daxon.

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Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.