3. Zy Crisler
I think everyone can agree that Zy Crisler has struggled this season. He has even admitted it himself, with a post on social media that it is going to be fixed.
After spending all of last season at right guard, Crisler moved over to right tackle to start 2023. Illinois needed someone to fill in for Alex Palczewski after he went to the NFL. That someone was tabbed as Crisler.
In the first two games, Crisler struggled in this new role. He finished with a grade of 36.3 against Toledo, which was one of the worst grades in all of college football, and then he had a grade of 53.9 against Kansas.
You could tell Crisler was struggling as well. He had trouble with the quicker defensive ends and linebackers rushing. He also couldn’t manage to lock down the dreaded spin move.
For the Penn State game, Crisler moved back to the right guard role for Illinois. Isaiah Adams then moved over to right tackle to help out. Crisler’s pass blocking improved in this game, and Illinois managed to do better as a unit on the offensive line.
Saturday against Florida Atlantic is going to be another game for Crisler to improve. Now that he is back in a familiar role, he has a chance to shine. Protecting quarterback Luke Altmyer is going to be extremely important, as the Illini have failed to move the ball consistently this season.
The Illini offensive line is currently allowing 3.7 sacks per game in 2023. That is bad enough to rank No. 121 out of 132 DI programs. If Illinois wants to take care of business, we can’t allow this many sacks. Crisler has to have a good game.
On top of that, Florida Atlantic doesn’t have a good rush defense. They average 0.5 sacks per game, which ranks No. 124 in the nation. This is a chance for Crisler to hone his craft and gain a lot of confidence moving forward. He is a talented player, and a great game against the Owls will help prove that point.