October 9, 2010

Not so Happy Homecoming: Illinois beats Penn State 33-13

Those Illini fans who made the trek east
were given quite the treat. (Photo: Mike/LBU)
On a homecoming in Beaver Stadium, it seemed Illinois was trying to give the Penn State alums a happy return to State College. Illinois punt returner Jake Ramsey fumbled away two punts in the first half, gift wrapping two red zone opportunities for the Nittany Lions.

Much to the dismay of the Penn State faithful, the Rob Bolden led offense only mustered six points on those two drives. Illinois dominated the rest of the way, winning 33-13 and dropping Penn State to a .500 record of 3-3.

In previous games fans and critics alike admitted that this team showed signs of things such as promise or poise. Illinois was just the better team in this one.

So far this season, Illinois has played inferior non-conference opponents such as Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois. Yet it was in this game where the Illinois offense was at its best all season, compiling a season high 433 total yards and 33 points, just two short of its best total against Southern Illinois.

For decades, Penn State football has hung their helmets on the defensive side of the ball. Traditionally, the defensive unit has been among the country’s best.

Coming into the season, fans were questioning if the personnel matched up with those of years past. Now, there’s no question. Exit Gerald Hodges, Jack Crawford, Derrick Thomas, Sean Stanley, Nick Sukay and Eric Lattimore. There have been injuries popping up everywhere, and it has shown on the field.

“They beat the crabcakes out of us.” said Joe Paterno.”They kicked our rears in. The linebackers looked like they’ve never seen a pass before. Who do you blame? Blame us. I’m not going to go out starting to blame kids that’s not fair to them.”

This game was never close, and Illinois delivered the message crystal clear to PSU faithful. Tone down your expectations. It’s going to be a rocky road the rest of the way.

Erase the BCS from your minds. Don’t even think about a New Years bowl game. At 3-3 and Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern in the not so distant future, you can’t count on this team making any bowl game at all.

“We’ve gotta get a sense of urgency and stop complaining about long practices.” Evan Royster said.” We’ve got to get out there and do it. We have to work hard and try to get better.”

An upcoming bye gives this team two weeks to do just that: try to get better. They’re going to need to because there is a long season ahead in what could be the deepest Big Ten Conference I have ever seen.

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  1. So, JoePa blamed himself and his coaches. Whoopty freakin-do. How about we show some accountability and bring in an offensive line coach who can develop an O-line that can hold their fucking blocks for more than 2 seconds? How about we stop calling fucking 4-yard pass plays on 3rd and 6? How about we actually run our tailbacks to the outside instead of straight up the middle of our "offensive" line? Heads need to roll at season's end but sadly, knowing how complacent everyone is with the status quo, that is merely a pipe dream. 6-6 and a bowl game should be cause for rioting at Beaver Canyon.

  2. I agree we must make a change with our coaching of the O-line. I can forgive a bad season at other positions, but the O-line is never good.

  3. It's just unfortunate that it's taken so long for everyone to realize how fragile-young this team is. Anyone remember that Mike Mauti and Jack Crawford were out? Bani, as underwhelming as he's been, was out too. Sean Stanley and Derrick Thomas are apparently done for a while with whatever happened with them. There is no depth right now. When you have true freshmen starting and/or playing a majority of snaps, with just more freshmen behind them, this is what happens. But I should save the rest of this rant for my reaction on Monday...

  4. Mike,

    There's deeper issues than being young. There's a complete lack of emotion or fire from this old, bland, boring coaching staff and it reflects on the players as well. I've been watching PSU football since 1991, started going to home games in '94 and had my patience tested greatly through the Dark Years. This was hands-down the most uninspired, lackadaisacal performance I've seen. There is ABSOLUTELY no goddamn reason why Illinois should be beating a PSU team with the amount of talent it has by 20 fucking points in Beaver Stadium. NONE. The sooner we clean house on this staff and get an energetic, younger bunch in there that knows how to make in-game adjustments, the better.

  5. It is extremely dishonest for JoePa to blame the defense when in fact the problem is the truly miserable offense run in large measure by his son JayPa. It's very clear that the offensive coordinators are not going to be fired until the head coach retires.

  6. I agree with Tim. This year, these players just seem emotionless. Evan Royster, being a senior should be performing better overall. Not just talk the talk, but walk the walk as well. But the major concern is our offensive line and injuries. Bolden isn't going to accomplish much this year without some protection. That was a pathetic game on Penn State's part. I was just appalled at the way we play with no passion and no will.

  7. @Frank - What do you mean? The defense did look terrible, even if the offense was worse. Joe Paterno blamed both the offense and defense in his post-game press conferece, including the red zone stuff. Everything Joe said post-game was true. So I'm not sure where the "dishonest" characterization comes into play here.

  8. We have been heavily recruiting offense linemen for the last 3 years and doing a pretty good job of it. 4 and 5 stars if you believe in that sort of stuff. Something is rotten in Denmark if this is the best line we can come up with.
    Everybody looks at a 2 QB system like it's the plague. I think it will help us immensely. I think that with this OL you need a "take off" guy, which is Newsome. You know what, forget my crazy ideas. If Bolden gets hurt, what then? You never give Newsome meaningful minutes, show him no love, and then complain he is not sure of himself while explaining all of Bolden's mistakes by using the mantra "he is only a freshman" over and over again (This was his fifth full game). Joe said he wished he would have played Clark more often. This is how he learns from his mistakes. As for Bolden losing confidence, boo hoo. When a lineman, or RB or WR, or well everybody else doesn't do so great he gets replaced. Tell me, when Bolden was picked over Newsome I didn't hear anybody saying that Newsome would lose his MoJo. They made the change because it was the best thing for the team. Now the best thing is a 2 QB system. (By the way it might save Bolden from serious injury.) My mantra is "you don’t say we need the best players on the field, you say you need the best combination of players on the field"