The defense could definitely step up a notch as well. The linebacker unit has been fare, but the defense as an overall is averaging a horrendous 31.7 points per game (96th overall). Junior LB Mason Monheim has tallied 31 tackles in the first three games, third in the Big Ten and 30th nationally, but the "D" will have to improve on its tepid performance in nearly every facet.
The Illini were dominated by the Washington Huskies last Saturday and have work to do with Big Ten play still ahead. The Texas State Bobcats (1-1) from the Sun Belt are their next opponents, but Illinois will still have to do more than show up to avoid the upset. The Bobcats have the fifth rated passing defense nationally with 102.5 yards allowed per game, albeit one match up vs. Navy, but Lunt had issues early on last week against the Huskies by forcing situations, one interception for a pick-six and coughing up a fumble for a defensive score. While Lunt is a clutch fourth quarter performer, he and the Illini will have to play a full game to become bowl eligible or better this season.
Coach Tim Beckman during Monday's press conference:
“We have not made the strides that we need to. We've fumbled the ball five times and that's not what we care to do. Yes, we've thrown one interception and it ended up being a touchdown. But there's been three turnovers that have cost this football team 21 points and you cannot be successful doing that. Defensively, we haven't taken the ball away enough. Again, those are things we talk about continually to this football team, they're practiced every day, and we've just got to try to create a habit for this football team in securing the football and taking it away.”
Quick Look at Stats
5 fumbles lost
71.3 rushing yards per game
2 rushing touchdowns
2.6 yards per carry
Point Per Game: 31.7 (96th)
Yards Per Game: 414.7 (87th)
Rushing Yards Per Game: 183.7 (93rd)
Passing Yards Per Game: 231.0 (67th)
Quarterback Wes Lunt, So. 6-5 225
Season Stats: 971 passing yards, 65.8 percent completion, 159.9 QB rating, 9 passing touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.
Top Five Receivers by Yards:
Geronimo Allison, Jr. 6-4 195
Season Stats: 16 receptions, 300 receiving yards, 18.8 yards per catch, and 2 touchdowns.
Mike Dudek, Fr. 5-11 185
Season Stats: 12 receptions, 159 receiving yards, 13.3 yards per catch, and 2 touchdowns.
Justin Hardee, Jr. 6-1 195
Season Stats: 9 receptions, 131 receiving yards, 14.6 yards per catch, and 1 touchdown.
Martize Barr, Sr. 6-0 195
Season Stats: 7 receptions, 101 receiving yards, 14.4 yards per catch, and 2 touchdowns.
Malik Turner, Fr. 6-3 205
Season Stats: 10 receptions, 98 receiving yards, and 9.8 yards per catch.