3. Illinois defense needs more than a three-man rush
The Illinois defense doesn’t come away from this Purdue loss without any criticism. Most of the time, the defense is just behind the eight ball because of the Illinois offense. I am not going to say that this time around.
I believe Illinois has a good defense, but for some reason, we are not nearly aggressive enough. Defensive coordinator Aaron Henry continues to drop back eight and only rushes three nearly every play of the game.
This type of defense allows average quarterbacks like Hudson Card to drop back and not feel any pressure. He can then complete passes because the Illinois defensive backs and linebackers can’t keep up with a pass catcher for that long.
When Illinois would bring an extra player or two, we would be able to get pressure on Card. This usually meant he would fling the ball up for an incomplete pass. There were only a few times this happened on Saturday, though.
Bringing just three players on a rush is also going to make Jer’Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph Jr. more ineffective. They both get double-teamed with a three-man rush. When Illinois brings someone on the edge, like Gabe Jacas, then that frees up Newton and Randolph to get to the quarterback.
The Illinois defensive play calling was frustrating against the Boilermakers. How can you continuously let Card drop back and not feel pressure all game long? There were little to no adjustments throughout the game either. It was a disappointing showing from the Illinois defense.