We are only one game into the 2023 season, and the Illinois football team is taking us on a wild ride.
The game against Toledo was such an emotional roller coaster. Throughout the contest, the Illini did everything to lose the game. We made boneheaded mistakes, turned the ball over, and couldn’t block anyone. Our great defensive front six were also dominated at times.
This was not the Illinois team I expected to come out of the gates. Despite all of that, we ended up winning the game and sent the Rockets back to northern Ohio with a loss.
Here are five observations from the Illinois football win over Toledo
1. Illinois has to get penalties under control
I would be the first to say that Illinois got a little lucky on Saturday night. With that many penalties, the fact we were in the game is a bit surprising.
Right before the first half ended, the Toledo Rockets drove down the field and ended up scoring a touchdown. This made the deficit for the Illini sit at 12-7 heading into the halftime lock room, which was still plenty manageable.
Illinois aided in that 12-7 Toledo lead, though. In the first half alone, the Illini had nine penalties for 90 yards. It was a ridiculous amount of penalty yardage for a game, let alone one half of football.
Throughout the second half, Illinois went penalty-free. They definitely got an earful in the locker room at halftime. But then it happened. A penalty that should have cost the Orange and Blue the game.
Gabe Jacas continued after Dequan Finn and went at his legs well after the ball was thrown. This penalty ended up giving Toledo a first down, and it would have been 4th and long that drive.
Thankfully, somehow, Illinois managed to pull out the victory against the Rockets. We ended the game with 10 penalties for 100 yards. That is an entire football field of free yardage for Toledo. If that happens in Big Ten games, we have zero chance to win. Discipline, or lack thereof, needs to be corrected quickly.