4. CB Elijah Mc-Cantos
You have to give credit where credit is due. Illinois’ defense was awful in the first two games of the season, but they brought it against Penn State. The Illini defense gave me hope we could win that game on Saturday.
The Illini front six was a huge reason Penn State struggled. We put pressure on the quarterback and were able to get to the ball carrier. This helped a young and struggling Illinois secondary.
Another thing that could help the Illini secondary is playing Elijah Mc-Cantos more snaps. The Miami, Florida native was a huge get for the Orange and Blue in the class of 2022. Now that he is in his second year with the team, it is time to let him loose.
Illinois has three main cornerbacks who have seen snaps this season. Taz Nicholson and Xavier Scott are both over 200 snaps a piece, and they are our top two rated cornerbacks. That is understandable.
Tyler Strain has played 139 snaps, and he is Illinois’ lowest-rated cornerback on the team. This is where I believe Mc-Cantos’ snaps should come from.
As for right now, Mc-Cantos has the fourth-best overall defensive grade among Illinois cornerbacks, and he has the second-best coverage grade. He is someone who can help this defense, yet the talented defender has only played 49 snaps this season. This includes just eight snaps against Penn State.
Strain is clearly struggling, so let’s give him some rest. It would be nice to mix Mc-Cantos into the rotation more often to see what he can bring to the Illinois defense.