After an impressive win to start the season against Nebraska, the Illinois football team lost at home to the UTSA Roadrunners, 37-30.
The Illini season looked to be off to a promising start after last week’s win against conference foe, Nebraska. Illinois looked like they were headed on the right track under new head coach, Bret Bielema. However, the team took one step forward and two steps back, losing to a solid (but beatable) UTSA team at home.
The worst part of it all? The Illinois football team simply got beat on both sides of the ball.
The Offense: B+
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It’s hard to knock an offense too much when they get 412 total yards and just one turnover. Artur Sitkowski had three touchdowns, throwing for over 250 yards. While he was inconsistent at times, he had another solid game as a backup for the injured Brandon Peters. Sitkowski also rushed for 33 yards on the day on six attempts.
Isaiah Williams continues to impress in his transition from quarterback to receiver. Williams got the bulk of the looks from Sitkowski, grabbing eight catches for 101 yards. Williams came up big for the Illini in several key spots down the line and continues to show he is more than capable of being a very good Big Ten receiver.
The rushing side of things was more of a mixed bag, with four Illinois backs getting four touches or more. Reggie Love, Mike Epstein, Jakari Norwood, and Joshua McCray all saw action in this one, with Love getting the lion’s share of the carries with 11 on the day.
The Defense: F
This Illinois football defense simply could not hold it together against a weaker UTSA team. The UTSA offense had nearly 500 total yards on the day, passing for 280 yards and rushing for 217.
The defenders simply looked like they were one step behind the Roadrunners’ receivers. While the man-to-man defense is my personal preference for this unit, if the corners cannot keep up with the likes of a Conference USA talent level, keeping up against Big Ten talent does not bode well for this defense.
Nothing stood out to me as very good or bad for Bielema in this one, but not adjusting to a team’s offensive scheme after allowing 20 points in the first half does not sit well with me.
I will cut Bielema some slack as he is still having to make adjustments to his new team. However, I would have liked to see this team come out stronger and calmer in the second half under the new head coach.