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Illinois stiff-arms the Gophers behind freshman back up QB, Jacob Charest

Illini QB, Juice Williams went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter.  At the time Illinois held a 7-0 lead, which soon grew to 14-0 before redshirt freshman Jacob Charest took over and led the Illini offense to a 35-25 win over the Gophers.  Charest was poised and elusive making a handful of clutch plays when Illinois most needed them. 

Ron Zook on his freshman QB - "He was 10/19 and 185 yards.  I think he managed the offense extremely well.  At teh end, a lot of people may take it for granted, but I thought his clock management was good.  Usually for a young quarterback the clock management issue is the last thing that comes.  I thought for him to be able to go in that kind of environment with that kind of situation of the momentum shifting a little bit, for him to be able to manage the clock the way he did was excellent."

On the other side of the ball, Adam Weber returned to his 2009 form going 5/17 in the first half for 74 yards and a pick-6.  In typical Weber fashion he managed to play well at times going 9/14 in the second half for 147 yards and a TD.  Along with improved accuracy he converted a 3rd & 19 and a 3rd & 24.  But playing well (not great, but well) for 2 quarters isn't going to get it done.

Asked about Weber's slow start Brewster had this to say...

It's hard to say.  The other 10 guys on offense do their job and we do a good job protecting Adam and our receivers do a good job running routes, Adam's a good football player.  When they don't it's hard for him to be as effective as he'd like to be.When you look at the quarterback's play, obviously the support of the other 10 guys is goes a long way to determine what type of game he's going to have.  He did a lot of good things today and there were some plays there that were not so good.

There is some truth to that and later Brewster talked about his receiver's lack of ability to separate and really be open.  The first half, though Weber was missing guys who were in fact open.  He ignored guys underneath on a regular basis opting for a big downfield play.  In the second half he had less time and from the press box perch it was obvious that receivers were not as open down field and when he checked down his completion percentage went up, the offense moved and scored 25 second half point.

The Gopher's version of the Triangle Offense was in full effect today.  Despite poor play from the QB the game was still winable but it was severely hampered by questionable play calling.  The key play of the second half came on the Gopher's opening drive of the half.  2nd and 1, inside the 1 yard line and the play called was a play-action rollout.  The right side of the OL let two guys through and they sacked Weber for an 8 yard loss before he had a chance to turn around. 

We thought we had a really good play pass in that situation, we thought we had a really good play pass for exactly the type of front defensively they were going to play.  They played two edge rushers, instead of one so tehre was a free guy on teh QB in that situation what we'd like to be able to do is throw teh ball 5 rows into teh bleachers and not take a sack in that situation.  Unfortunately we took a sack and had to kick a field goal.

Maybe it was a great play on paper, but for a team that wants to pound the rock you run the ball hoping you can get 3 feet for 6 points.  Once again the lack of commitment to the run hurt this offense and the team's chances of winning.

Those are not amazing numbers but they are good enough to give these guys more than 8, 9 and 4 carries respectively.  Even in the first half the run was abandoned early.  Back to back first downs running the ball is followed by a pass play that was picked for 6.  That pick is certainly on Weber, but run the ball especially when it is working so well for you. 

A frustrating loss for the Gophers who really played well in the second half but stunk on many levels in the first.  With two games left this team is likely on a path to a bowl game, but the destination may not be as exciting as the .500 achievement.

Likes and dislikes after the break...

What did I like?

  • Only 3 penalties
  • 25 second half points
  • Da'Jon McKnight - the sophomore is really taking advantage of his opportunity in Decker's absence.  Not bad for the 2-star throw in who completed the Skyline-4.
  • Iowa lost!

What I didn't like

  • Two kickoffs out of bounds.
  • Weber's inconsistency and reluctance to complete the 5-yard play, opting for a downfield incompletion.
  • Play-calling!  RUN THE DAMN BALL