Illinois Football: 5 observations from the Illini loss to the Kansas Jayhawks

Sep 8, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) reacts after an injury during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) reacts after an injury during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 8, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) throws a pass to wide receiver Pat Bryant (13) during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) throws a pass to wide receiver Pat Bryant (13) during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Wide receivers have to start helping Luke Altmyer

I think Illinois has a nice stable of wide receivers. We have players who have talent and can make big plays when needed.

On Friday night, these wide receivers didn’t make big plays. In fact, there were numerous times these wide receivers cost Illinois yardage and the possession of the ball.

I don’t have the total number of drops, but at one point, I just put my head down in disgust. It was ugly against Kansas. Illinois’ wide receivers couldn’t hold onto the ball.

This inability to actually catch passes ended up allowing a couple of turnovers as well. Luke Altmyer threw two interceptions on Friday night, and I can’t put the full blame on him for either turnover.

Illinois had just gotten a good fumble on defense and was driving the football to make the deficit smaller. We were near midfield when Altmyer threw a good pass to the right sideline. Pat Bryant had it in his hands, juggled it a few times in the air, and it ended up being picked off.

The Illini got the game back within 11 points and had possession of the ball late in the game. We just converted a 22-yard fourth down as well. Altmyer dropped back, looked the wide receiver down, and put the ball on the money to Isaiah Williams. Williams had the ball in his hands, but it ended up being bobbled and a Kansas defensive back picked it off.

A lot of things went wrong on Friday night, but Illinois has to control the things we can control. A simple catch is one of the things. These turnovers helped the snowball effect for the program last night. We can’t do this moving forward.