Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illini Postscripts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Illini Postscripts

Article excerpt


BEST QUARTERBACK: Named Big Ten Conference offensive player of the week twice in the last six weeks since taking over the starting job, sophomore Johnny Johnson passed for two touchdowns in the last 4 minutes 24 seconds of the game Saturday, lifting Illinois to its 23-20 victory over Minnesota.

WORST QUARTERBACK: Same guy. Johnson spent the first 55 minutes of the game in a state of bewilderment. Five of his passes were intercepted, and he badly overthrew open receivers a number of times. His final stats: 18 completions in 54 throws for 273 yards, five interceptions and two touchdowns.

BEST REACTION: After Illinois pulled out another victory with a touchdown pass in the last minute, athletic director Ron Guenther entered the interview room. Coach Lou Tepper was holding court with reporters. "Oh, my boss just came in," Tepper said, grinning. Guenther shook his head and said something about Tepper trying to give him cardiac arrest.

BEST COACHING: Offensive coordinator Greg Landry had the patience of Job in sticking with Johnson, and it paid off. Landry explained that Johnson has big-play potential and scrambling ability, which was needed at the end of the game. Twice, Johnson ran for first downs on both touchdown drives. Plus, Landry said, Johnson has excellent command of the two-minute offense.

WORST COACHING: Considering his defensive system had upset Johnson's rhythm for most of the game, Minnesota coach Jim Wacker gets plenty of credit for using an eight-man front and blitzing a lot throughout the game. Johnson simply couldn't hit the open receivers, so the man-to-man coverage worked. But Wacker stuck with this defense to the bitter end. Instead of dropping into a prevent defense in the last 1 minute 10 seconds, the Gophers continued to blitz and continued to play man coverage. …

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