Illinois football was a two-touchdown underdog against Maryland but came away with a huge win on Saturday.
The Illini were not only in bad form entering Saturday, but we had to go on the road against a Maryland team that had one loss on its record. This was a good Terrapins team, but Illinois was up for the test.
Illinois’ defense made stop after stop, and the offense did just enough to come away with the 27-24 win over Maryland.
Here are five observations from the Illinois football win over Maryland
1. Illinois play distribution was better
For much of the season, I have been complaining about the play distribution of the Illinois offense. We were passing the ball way too often, and this killed the team.
This past Saturday, everything came to a head when the Illini fell to Nebraska and had 47 passes to just 12 carries for our running backs. That type of play distribution is not Illinois football, and I firmly believe it is one of the reasons we lost the game.
Play distribution was much better against Maryland. There were rumblings that Bret Bielema had more control over the offensive play-calling on Saturday, but no matter what happened, I think the play-calling was better.
Illinois ended up with just 28 passes on the day compared to 26 runs by our running backs. If you add in the Luke Altmyer runs, the Illini had 39 total rushing attempts.
I have been screaming for Illinois to run the ball to open up the pass. On our scoring drives, that seemed to be the case, especially on the first drive of the game. We have a talented backfield despite our top two running backs being injured.
Kaden Feagin ended the game with 19 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. Aidan Laughery had seven carries for 18 yards. This is the type of play-calling I want to see. I still think there needs to be a change at the offensive coordinator position, but what I saw out of the offense was a nice change of pace against the Terrapins.