4. Illini secondary came through in the clutch
There were multiple times the Illinois defense could have folded and let Maryland score. Illinois made a few mistakes here and there, but the defense came through when we needed them the most.
I touched on Seth Coleman’s great game and his presence in the Maryland backfield. I also believe Dylan Rosiek is a special linebacker. But I also want to give praise to the Illinois secondary.
The Illini defensive backs came up huge on Saturday. The only time I thought any member of the Illinois secondary had a bad moment was the Maryland touchdown when Tyson Rooks got burnt. Literally, that was the only issue I had the entire game.
Tyler Strain probably had the best game out of the entire secondary. He was picked on numerous times but had control of his man. There was one pass interference call that was questionable, but Strain had one of his best games as a member of this program. He finished with four tackles and two pass deflections.
Nicario Harper continues to be a great asset as well. He had one of the biggest tackles of the game when Maryland had a chance to get loose. Thankfully, Harper didn’t bite and made a huge tackle. He ended the night with seven tackles and a tackle for loss.
It was an all-around great performance for the Illinois secondary. The Illini secondary held Taulia Tagovailoa to 266 yards and two touchdowns, and most of those passes were screens or short throws. There was nothing happening down the field. I loved what I saw for the Illinois defensive backs.