October 13, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Mason Monheim (43) receives congratulations from linebacker Jonathan Brown (45) after recovering a fumble in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 45-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Football Roundtable: Who are the Most Important Illini Heading into Purdue?

In this edition of the Writing Illini roundtable, the staff takes a look at who the most important Illini are heading into their possible streak stopping clash with the Purdue Boilermakers this weekend at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.

Ricky: This week, the most important Illini on the field will be the entire defensive squad. So far this season, the Illinois defense has done a terrible job stopping the run and as a result the team has lost six straight games. Because of this, I’m looking at the leaders on the linebacking corps to step up and give this defense the boost it needs. Mason Monheim and Jonathan Brown need to play better in order for the entire defense to play better. If they cannot, and Illinois loses a seventh straight game, fans might begin to question defensive minded head coach Tim Beckman or defensive coordinator Tim Banks.

Rees: The most important Illini heading into the game against Purdue isn’t a single player, but it is a squad.  The linebackers for the Illini have really let us down this year.  Looking to the Purdue game and going forward, the linebackers are the key to the Illini winning this week and into the future.  We really need them to contain the run.  Carlos Hyde tore us up last week, and we don’t want to see an encore for Purdue.

Ryan: I wholeheartedly agree that the Illini need a solid effort from the defensive side of the ball if they want to pull off the streak stopping road victory this weekend, and this alone makes them the most important Illini this week. There should be an expectation at this point in the season that Sr. QB Nathan Scheelhaase is going to operate Bill Cubit’s offense efficiently, and the Illini are going to put points on the board against a Purdue defense that has allowed an average of 38 ppg this season. The Illinois rush defense has allowed a long list of 200 yard rushers this season, but this is the game that they need to get right as a unit. Therefore, it’s time for the defense to step up and stop the dismal Purdue run game which has averaged a Big Ten worst 65.4 ypg this season. Do this, and their first Big Ten victory will surely materialize.

Austin: Once again, Scheelhaase will prove to be the most important Illini heading in to the game at Purdue.  He has been the pillar of this team, and is by far one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation, including in his own fan base.  He will light it up this weekend, throwing for 5 td’s, and will again show the huge amount of potential he has under center.

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.


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Tags: Illinois Fighting Illini Jonathan Brown Mason Monheim Nathan Scheelhaase

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