Last night I previewed the USF Bulls, and boy the Illini have their task set up for them. After struggling with their first two opponents in the first half, the Illini dug deep and pulled out two scrappy wins and are sitting at 2-0. Illinois, like years past, are dealing with injuries and suspensions which has definitely hurt the Illini on both sides of the ball. But without further ado, here is the Illini preview for Week 3.
Illinois has averaged just around 30 minutes of possession, and for Illinois to win the need to hold on to the ball. The Illini lack the ability to move the ball down the field, especially with their receiving core down to two players that have caught the ball this season. Even if the Illini have possession, they need to score the ball. Illinois will rely heavily on Mike Epstein, RaVon Bonner and Reggie Corbin to run the ball, but that will depend heavily on how well the offensive line can create holes and avoid costly penalties. The best part is that USF is rebuilding their defense so Illinois could be able to create and sustain an attack.
The biggest thing the defense is missing is their suspended secondary. Lovie has yet to say if the players will be suiting up on Saturday and this will be a huge impact to the young Illini defense. Illinois will need to step up and spy on the Blake Barnett who has been the entire USF offense for this season. USF is quick and can throw the ball down the field, and the Illini have failed to stop that all season.
There are two things hurting the Illini. Injuries on offense and suspensions of defense. And that will be the downfall for the Illini at Soldier field. If the Illini can’t match the USF attack, there is no chance this team can win. USF covers and beats the Illini 34-10.