Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Illinois Tries to Forget Big Loss as It Heads to Penn State

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Illinois Tries to Forget Big Loss as It Heads to Penn State

Article excerpt


If there is an advantage to having a young football team at Illinois, it might be that many of them don't know much about what last season's 2-10 season was like.

Younger players haven't had as hard of a time letting go of Saturday's 42-3 loss to Michigan State, coach Tim Beckman said Monday. The trouble lies elsewhere on the roster.

"Probably more the older guys than the younger guys," Beckman said. "Because they've been around the losing longer, the inconsistency."

The loss - offensive coordinator Bill Cubit called it a disaster - was in many ways worse than anything Illinois (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten) experienced last season, even during the nine-game losing streak that closed the season.

Leading 3-0 early, Illinois then gave up 42 straight points to the Spartans, 28 of them in the second half.

Getting over it, taking what good you can from it and moving on to this Saturday's game at Penn State (4-3, 1-2), isn't easy, senior linebacker Jonathan Brown said.

"It's definitely a task. After a 42-3 loss, it's tough for guys to see the good spots in that," he said.

There were some things Cubit said he'd like his offensive players to hang onto.

While they had one first down and 18 of their 128 yards of offense in the second half, the Illini moved the ball on the country's top-rate defense for the first 30 minutes. The difference between the two halves, he said, wasn't in anything the Spartans did to Illinois, but in the Illini's execution.

In an offensive meeting Sunday, "I called guys out - 'Hey, what happened here? How come we didn't get this thing done?' And every one of them took ownership - 'Coach, that's my fault.'"

"When I walked out of that room, I felt pretty good about those kids," Cubit said.

Offensive tackle Corey Lewis was in that meeting. He said after the game that he would apply a rule Cubit that stresses putting a win or loss aside after 24 hours. …

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