In the following roundtable, the staff of Writing Illini takes a look at who the most important Fighting Illini is heading into their Week Eight match-up with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Austin: Nathan Scheelhaase will be the most important player coming in to this week. The reasoning for this is that the Wisconsin run d is stout. Even if the Illini force the run, I am not certain they will be able to get much going on the ground. That is not to speak ill of the Illini run game, but simply saying that the run d of Wisconsin is very, very good. If Scheelhaase can make plays through the air, it may allow the Illini to get some running going, but if they are not able to use the passing game to establish a run game it may be a very long night in Champaign.
Ricky: After a much needed bye week, the most important Illini heading into this weekend’s prime time match-up against the Wisconsin Badgers is none other than quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase had a less than stellar performance against Nebraska two weeks ago and showed that Illini Nation might be in for a long and rough conference schedule. If Illinois wants to be any kind of successful on Saturday night, they will need their commander on offense to be at the top of his game. Ferguson and Young can only take this team so far. We still need our quarterback to LEAD this team to victory.
Rees: The most important Illini heading into week 8 is Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase will have to be on his game and efficient to win the game on Saturday night. Completions on 3rd down to keep Wisconsin off the field will be huge in a big victory for the Illini.
Ryan: Offensively, we all know how important Nathan Scheelhaase is to the success of the Illinois offense, but I’m looking for a win, and there is only one way that is going to happen. The most important Illini this week are the players that will take the field on the defensive side of the football. They face their tallest task as a unit this weekend when they square off with the Badgers #5 nationally ranked rush offense (298.2 YPG) led by Melvin Gordon and James White.
The Illinois defense has been gashed in previous meetings against top flight running backs this season (Sankey – 208 yards, Abdullah – 225 yards), but the good news is that the primary reason behind this trouble stopping the run can be fixed. Many times, it’s simply failing to finish the tackle when a defender has a chance that is the issue, and the coaching staff has went on record that the most recent bye week was spent returning to basic fundamentals, including tackling. Finish every tackle, and bottle up the high powered Badger rush game, and the Illini will have the chance to pull the improbable upset.
The Writing Illini staff includes lead editor Ricky Widmer, co-editor Ryan Kraemer, and staff writers, Austin Jabs and Rees Woodcock.
Follow Ricky on Twitter @RickyWidmer.
Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinJabs85.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.
Follow Rees on Twitter @ReesISMe.