Illini Chutes, Ladders

For Fighting Illini fans, the weekend was a tale of programs moving in opposite directions.  Friday night we were treated to the rare West Coast swing as the football team lost another close game to California powerhouse Fresno State, 25-23.  Then Saturday, the basketball team took the floor in Seattle to decisively beat Gonzaga in a “neutral site” matchup, 73-61.  So, in review: sell Zook, buy Weber.

The football team came out very aggressively against Fresno, and the Bulldogs deftly used that against them with a series of draws, screens, and short passes to move down the field and score on the first drive.  It didn’t help that the field was in terrible condition and the Illini players couldn’t seem to keep from falling down.  On offense, Fresno stacked 8, 9, and yes on one play 10 men in the box to stop Leshoure and the running game.  And it was working.  Meanwhile, Scheelhaase was running for his life everytime he dropped back to pass (which wasn’t often), and before they knew it, Illinois was down 16-0.  We’ve seen this before – lack of execution or emotion leading to a terrible start.  In this case it looked like the team was fired up and Fresno gameplanned against it.  And it doesn’t help when you have no passing game. Continue reading