Illinois at Indiana, quick analysis (1st Half)

Indiana gets the ball at the 25 with 37 seconds left in the half. Will the Hoosiers try anything?

Yes. A pass to Means for 14.

Then, a quick out to Hardy for 12.

And then to Fisher on a wheel route, gain of seven and he gets out of bound.

Hardy slides under that ball near the sideline and originally the call was that he stayed in bouds. The back judge comes in and says he wasn’t.

Lewis opts to throw to Thigpen for a short, short gain. Figure the Hoosiers need to get to the 33 for Austin Starr to attempt a 50 yarder. That pass, a 2-yard gain, puts them at the 40 with four seconds left.

Lewis drops for some sort of Hail Mary try. He’s sacked.



  • Drive details: 68 yards, 8 plays, 1:18

The Illini go straight to work, and Willams appears to have found his rhythm.

  • Williams looks more comfortable running this 2-minute offense than he does with more time.
  • A busted option play puts Illinois in a 3rd and 6 from the Indiana 33 situation. What’s the call here?
  • Well, it’s a pass to Benn on a post for 18 yards.
  • Simply superb blocking on that screen to Mendenhall for the score. Ryan McDonald, a 6-5, 293-pound offensive lineman, got out into the flat and knocked away and Indiana cornerback



  • Drive details: 78 yards, 7 plays, 3:06

Indiana begins on on its 22 and finally the offense puts together a scoring drive.

  • Nice play call to open it. Gets Lewis moving and all he has to do is loft it over to Means. Indiana’s offense needs lots of space to work, and the play calls must often create enough movement to open that space.
  • Means, again. He’s the locked on guy this week.
  • Indiana calls a screen, and Thigpen gets J Leman, one of the top tacklers in the country, to miss. First down. Something may be starting here for the Hoosiers, who were down 25-7 in the second quarter in this game last year.
  • Wow. James Hardy cannot drop passes like that. He’s been a non-factor and then a ball comes his way and he simply drops it. Billy Lynch is so angry right now.
  • Payton into the game, and, yes, he goes up middle for a gain of 15.
  • Hardy grabs that one on a quick slant. Indiana’s inside the 10.
  • Hardy again on a quick in for the score.


Illinois starts at its own 17 but has to punt it away after a short drive.

  • Looks like the Indiana defense, which has been fairly clueless to this point. Has figured something out, stuffing Benn on a run and pressuring Williams into a throw away on second down.
  • I spoke too soon. Williams keeps on 3rd down and runs right up the middle, untouched.
  • OK. Back to my original premise. They did figure something out. Two Williams incompletions lead to a punt.


Indiana starts at the 35 after another short, directional kick. It’s most promising drive of the day ends with a Ray Fisher fumble at the Illini 17.

  • The Hoosiers line up in two tight-end set, one back. It’s Thigpen, who doesn’t get through the initial traffic at the line. Wonder what Bryan Payton would have done on that play.
  • Indiana faces a 3rd and 9, and Lewis tucks and runs. There’s probably no other better way for the Hoosiers to convert on 3rd down.
  • Lewis again on a run, this time picking up 20.
  • Another double hand off reverse, this one to Ray Fisher. He apparently fumbles after a 16-yard gain. Illinois recovers.



Illinois starts at its 20 and systematically drives down field for the first touch down of the game.

  • Big-time play by Mendenhall there. How he caught that desperation rocket toss from Williams AND kept moving left, I’ll never know. It’s good for a first down.
  • Another give to Benn, and he goes off tackle to pick up a first down.
  • Ron Zook takes a lot of criticism for being a poor game coach. That may me true. But this drive has been well-orchestrated. Williams isn’t throwing the ball well, so Indiana is blitzing. To counter that, Zook has called a few late developing screens and run that bypass the blitz. Illinois is moving the ball well again, but it hasn’t had much success from within the 30.
  • Troy Pollard, the true freshman from Jacksonville, is moving the ball well for the Illini. He’s shiftier than Mendenhall.
  • Williams could have thrown to about three wide open players on that touchdown pass. I don’t know how that happens. Thankfully, he chose a guy named Michael Hoomanawanui. I’ve always wanted to type that name.


Thigpen finally receives a kick off, but he’s five yards deep and downs it. Indiana starts at the 20 and is shut out again.

  • Quick injury note while we’re at it. Terrance Turner started in place of James Bailey at WR. Bailey is available though.
  • Tough penalty on first down there. Indiana sets up a screen and then a wide out is called for holding.
  • Bryan Payton into the game. Can’t say that’s much of a surprise. He’s a Big Ten-style back.
  • Lynch showing Illinois a little of its own play book, calling Lewis on an option right. The Illini knew it was coming.
  • Lewis throws for Means on third down, and picks up seven yards and a first down. He hadn’t thrown much to Means earlier this year but is clearly trying to get him the ball this game. He’s thrown that way at least four times.
  • Lewis has such presence on the field. That dropped snap could cause havoc, but he picks up up and finds Sears for a 19-yard gain.
  • Means, again. This time on a double hand-off reverse. Crazy block by Lewis. I think he might enjoy playing football.
  • On 3rd and 5, Lynch needs some time to consider his call. Time out for Indiana.
  • Whatever he called didn’t work, as Illinois broke in on Lewis from the edge.
  • Hines’ last punt was lousy and short. This one was lousy because it was long.


ILLINOIS 6, INDIANA 0 (4:28, first quarter)

  • Drive details: 44 yards, 11 plays

Illinois takes over in its own zone and puts together a drive but stalls and again kicks a field goal.

  • Illinois faces a 3rd and 10 and….runs the ball. And why not? Indiana has shown no semblance of being a team that can really stop the power run. Line up a few guys to lead block and go at it. Mendenhall picked up the first with ease.
  • Indiana’s corners are on the spot when Illinois runs that option, and Majors comes up with a big play here. He gets to Benn for a loss of two. Nice read and fight by the senior corner.
  • Williams again sends a ball skipping across the ground on a third down just outside the red zone. His receivers are finding some room, but he’s not finding them.
  • Reda again finishes the drive, this time with a 38-yard field goal.


Illinois kicks away from Thigpen, giving Indiana the ball at the 32-yard line. But Indiana can’t move the ball on the ground and has to punt.

  • Demetrius McCray in at running back after Thigpen’s follies last drive. He carries for three on the first play.
  • Lewis has done a good job of putting his receivers in position to draw pass interference calls. On this play, he rolls left, drawing the defense, then lofts a pass down the sideline for Andrew Means. When Means gets tangled with a confounded Illinois corner, the yellow flag hits the field.
  • Why even bother running up the middle if you are Indiana? Sure, it might keep the Illinois defense more honest and help spread the defense and yada, yada, yada. What it really does, though, is leave you gaining no yards.
  • Kellen Lewis won’t escape as easily this weekend. On third and 10, Lewis tries to break right but is swarmed by three Illinois defenders.


ILLINOIS 3, INDIANA 0 (10:20, first quarter)

  • Drive details: 39 yards, 9 plays, 3:02

Illinois begins at its own 33 and drives into Indiana territory before stalling and settling for a 45-yard Jason Reda field goal.

  • Illinois is lining up with one wide out and pushing Indiana around. Mendenhall is having no trouble getting around end because his blockers are way out in front.
  • On 3rd and 2 from the Illinois 42, Williams options right and keeps it.
  • On the resulting first down, Illinois again takes a shot way down field. Porter again plays it well, but is called for a phantom pass interference call. Lucky for Indiana, it’s just a 15-yard penalty in college. Otherwise, the ball would be inside the five.
  • Aurrelious Benn, the true freshman wide out, just took a delayed inside hand off and gained a first down. They’ll do anything to get the ball into his hands.
  • Williams had Kyle Hudson wide open underneath the zone and threw high. Next play, Williams drops back and doesn’t see an open receiver and doesn’t run quick enough. Indiana gets there for the sack.
  • On 3rd and 15 from the 28, Williams short arms a pass. He seems to be pushing the ball early.
  • Jason Reda on for a 45-yard field goal. It’s good.


Indiana begins in its own zone and after two strong plays falls apart.

  • Lewis on a keeper around end right to start, gains a first down.
  • Lewis rolls left and finds Josiah Sears in the flat for a gain of 19.
  • Lewis has Thigpen at the sideline, but Thigpen doesn’t hold onto the ball. Bad, bad drop. He wasn’t even about to take a hit. Those are the plays that, besides not gaining a yard, stop the momentum.
  • Case in point: Thigpen just fumbled after a hit by Will Davis, and Illinois recovered.


Illinois starts at its own 25, and turns the ball over on the second play.

  • Option left to start, and Illinois gains 18 yards. Juice Williams can hold that ball until the last second.
  • Williams looks deep over the middle and has a man. He underthrows the ball, allowing Tracy Porter to go up for a jump ball. He comes down with it.


It’s a hot day for football, and the crowd is still meandering into the stadium as the game begins.