Pregame: Illinois at Purdue, Saturday, October 26th, 11:00am CT, BTN

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I'll allow it :)
LOL, every day of the week.

I think Lovie takes a tremendous amount of criticism, so much so that any sort of praise that goes his way is condemned to an extent. There’s nothing wrong with saying he does some things that are bad, some things that could be better and some things that are good without having to feel like you’re a hypocrite. You can love him and admit his faults and hate him while admitting he has his strong points. It would also be nice if people actually understood his defensive scheme but that’s for another day.
 
Woodridge, IL
End of Game.
It would be very easy, to simply call the last drive… perfection... because did we score? Yes. Did we win? Yes.
However... It's worth looking under the hood.
We obtain the ball with 2 1/2 minutes to go in the game, roughly. Needing to go 40ish yards for a FG chance and 70ish for a TD. (I didn't look up the yard line.)
You probably should've looked up the yard line, cause you'd then know we started it at our 47. It wouldn't be ideal, but McCourt has hit from 57 which means we needed to get to the Wisconsin 40... or 13 yards. We also had three timeouts going into the drive. Lovie has made some boneheaded clock management moves, the last drive was not one of them.
 
You probably should've looked up the yard line, cause you'd then know we started it at our 47. It wouldn't be ideal, but McCourt has hit from 57 which means we needed to get to the Wisconsin 40... or 13 yards. We also had three timeouts going into the drive. Lovie has made some boneheaded clock management moves, the last drive was not one of them.
100% correct. The minute Tony picked the ball I yelled “We need 15”. I didn’t agree with Matt Millen when he thought we needed to hurry it up and I don’t agree now, I thought we did exactly what we were supposed to do with that much clock left and Paul Cryst holding 3 timeouts. I wouldn’t change anything about that last sequence.

We bungled the half against EMU, we bungled the half against Nebraska. That doesn’t mean we bungled the end of this one. Lovie called a phenomenal football game last Saturday. We need him to do it again this Saturday.
 
Another thing about the fumbles, Lovie teaches the guys to all run to the ball, even the big DTs, and his bears teams always had guys picking up dead balls and sprinting the other way just because there were always guys in the neighborhood. I think our % recovery could be higher than a “regular” team due to this - recovering fumbles isn’t a skill, but if it’s 3 of yours vs one of theirs, odds are in your favor
 
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You probably should've looked up the yard line, cause you'd then know we started it at our 47. It wouldn't be ideal, but McCourt has hit from 57 which means we needed to get to the Wisconsin 40... or 13 yards. We also had three timeouts going into the drive. Lovie has made some boneheaded clock management moves, the last drive was not one of them.
I agree totally that the end game management was one of Lovie's best. I'm a long time reader of this sight and an even longer season ticket holder. I enjoy the differing opinions on this sight, but I'm starting to stay away due to some posters who actually really think they know what they are talking about. I guess if they told me they have been coaching for 20 years, I might pay more attention, but when it's all said and done it's just a game that we love and let's enjoy the moment, but realize that saving for retirement is much more important!!! LOL
 
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Austin
Another thing about the fumbles, Lovie teaches the guys to all run to the ball, even the big DTs, and his bears teams always had guys picking up dead balls and sprinting the other way just because there were always guys in the neighborhood. I think our % recovery could be higher than a “regular” team due to this - recovering fumbles isn’t a skill, but if it’s 3 of yours vs one of theirs, odds are in your favor
I considered the numbers thing being in our favor. I think that helps, but the ball still has to bounce just right.
 

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I'm confused about everything you said after this point. What would have been you preferred method of ending the game involving the clock? We got the ball with 2:32 left and ran the clock out to kick a field goal. Looking at playclock, we ran plays that took 30 seconds, 32 seconds, and 35 seconds resulting in a first down and only 55 seconds left. Wisconsin calls a timeout, we proceed to run it three more times, milking clock, causing wisconsin to use timeouts. We kick a field goal with 4 seconds left in the game.

That's the way every coach under the sun would do it.
I respectfully disagree.
What you saw was Lovie being Lovie. (This is my point). There is far too much historical evidence (looking back no further than the first half) to think that this was good planning. I'm sorry.

Here is what I see, and I base this off his quotes of "being right there" in games, giving ourselves a "chance to win". THAT should not be the goal, and it is apparent, repeatedly, that it is.

Lovies goal wasn't to win. His goal was to have a chance. And if it works out? Awesome.

that's how he approached Nebraska. It's inexplicably how he approached EMU. (His "comfort" with the "situation" at half time... of a game we are winning by a touchdown... "no need for more points, not even 3... we played a good half, never mind we only need 15 yards in 1:30 to kick a field goal.).

Lovie, with his approach, was ALWAYS to kick a long field goal. He got lucky, that Dre broke 3 tackles. If he doesn't, nothing changes... and we attempt a 52 yarder. And either he hits and we win... or lovie says "we did our job. We were right there, with a chance to win."

Paul Chryst, unfortunately, was the only coach who was ever going to properly use timeouts on that last drive. (And even he made one goof, in my eyes.).

It is, unfortunately, impossible for me to prove that something would have happened... I recognize that. But history speaks to it clearly.

Lovie has not turned a corner, I do not believe. And I hope to be proven wrong.

His players, on the other hand, very well may have.
 
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I agree totally that the end game management was one of Lovie's best. I'm a long time reader of this sight and an even longer season ticket holder. I enjoy the differing opinions on this sight, but I'm starting to stay away due to some posters who actually really think they know what they are talking about. I guess if they told me they have been coaching for 20 years, I might pay more attention, but when it's all said and done it's just a game that we love and let's enjoy the moment, but realize that saving for retirement is much more important!!! LOL
yeah. I was hesitant, Bc 1.) I don't want to rain on a beautiful parade, and that it is. I'm an Illini fan, first and foremost.
And 2.) it nearly impossible to prove a negative... and Paul Chryst's timeouts prevent me from doing so. (and ultimately, I'm glad they do.)

But I will happily go toe to toe with anyone on here, with respect to game strategy, clock management and game planning. That's not a challenge, nor an act of aggression. I'm happy to have anyone disagree with my earlier points.

But I am a STL native. I live in Chicago. And I am a lifelong Illini. Aside from football knowledge, which I won't justify, Im also in the position to have firsthand witnesses Lovie for 90% of his professional career. and he is still, very much the same person he was, years ago. Those reasons are why, even at 10-6, he couldn't hold the Bears job.

he's a strong figurehead for our program.
he's a terrific piece of a recruiting plan.
he's a below average game planner.
and he's an atrocious game and clock manager. atrocious.

Ironically, His HC in St. Louis, Mike Martz, was equally as bad. Lovie learned from a man who fortunately had so much talent, he couldn't screw it up. Lovie doesn't yet have that luxury.
 
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100% correct. The minute Tony picked the ball I yelled “We need 15”. I didn’t agree with Matt Millen when he thought we needed to hurry it up and I don’t agree now, I thought we did exactly what we were supposed to do with that much clock left and Paul Cryst holding 3 timeouts. I wouldn’t change anything about that last sequence.

We bungled the half against EMU, we bungled the half against Nebraska. That doesn’t mean we bungled the end of this one. Lovie called a phenomenal football game last Saturday. We need him to do it again this Saturday.
I don't agree... but I do sincerely hope you are correct, and I am wrong.
 
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Plainfield
Didn't Wisconsin start and sustain its turnaround by consistently landing top in-state recruits? The Sconnies are much more unified under the Sconnie flag. Us Illini are pretty fractured. State pride overall is lacking. People take great civic pride in Chicago, but to many of us in the Chicagoland area, anything south of 80 may as well be Kentucky. When the metro area that comprises 70%+ of your state's population doesn't "identify" with people (or flagship university) outside of its empire, it's hard to draw top in-state athletes.

Not to get off topic, but I wonder how different our image would be if we were an hour or so closer to Chicago. Maybe somewhere along the Illinois or Fox Rivers. Coaches and parents in Chicagoland know Champaign is a top notch school, but it's still perceived to be deep in the boonies/a backwater. That's another thing - Wisconsin's campus is geographically interesting whereas Champaign is flat as a pancake and completely landlocked. Not saying these aren't things we can't overcome, but it's a different situation than Wisconsin.
We were almost in Ottawa, but they chose the appellate court and Champaign got the new college.
 
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I respectfully disagree.
What you saw was Lovie being Lovie. (This is my point). There is far too much historical evidence (looking back no further than the first half) to think that this was good planning. I'm sorry.

Here is what I see, and I base this off his quotes of "being right there" in games, giving ourselves a "chance to win". THAT should not be the goal, and it is apparent, repeatedly, that it is.

Lovies goal wasn't to win. His goal was to have a chance. And if it works out? Awesome.

that's how he approached Nebraska. It's inexplicably how he approached EMU. (His "comfort" with the "situation" at half time... of a game we are winning by a touchdown... "no need for more points, not even 3... we played a good half, never mind we only need 15 yards in 1:30 to kick a field goal.).

Lovie, with his approach, was ALWAYS to kick a long field goal. He got lucky, that Dre broke 3 tackles. If he doesn't, nothing changes... and we attempt a 52 yarder. And either he hits and we win... or lovie says "we did our job. We were right there, with a chance to win."

Paul Chryst, unfortunately, was the only coach who was ever going to properly use timeouts on that last drive. (And even he made one goof, in my eyes.).

It is, unfortunately, impossible for me to prove that something would have happened... I recognize that. But history speaks to it clearly.

Lovie has not turned a corner, I do not believe. And I hope to be proven wrong.

His players, on the other hand, very well may have.
This post was difficult to make sense of, all due respect. It seems as though you yourself are making the same mistake that routinely plagues Lovie Smith: Misgauging situational football. “His goal was to have a chance to win”. By this you must mean running the football on first and second down at a lower tempo which tells me that the only way for Lovie to show you that his goal was anything but “Not trying to win”, he would need to direct Rod Smith to attempt to drive the ball, probably through the air and at a high tempo. My question is simple and it’s situationally based, why in the world would we ever do this? Calling that last 2 minutes like you need 50 yards or even a TD for your fans to storm the field is lunacy as it is completely unnecessary for us to win the football game and carries nothing but downside risk for a QB that struggles to quickly diagnose opposing defenses and an offensive line that struggles to protect the QB. There are only 2 minutes left in the entire football game, this is it for us. If we’re trying to go tempo, we’re probably only breaking with 1 or 2 check calls and Brandon is approaching that with the mindset that he needs to call for the football as quickly as possible (That’s what a high temp offense does). If we get the wrong look against a very talented, extremely well coached unit, he won’t have the opportunity to diagnose it and we risk turning the football over. It is more advantageous for us to slow things down both on the field and in Brandon’s mind, let him get up to the line, look the defense over and then say “I like this look, let’s go” or “I’m confused, I need a timeout”. We still had 3. That 3rd down ball to Barker was the game and because he read it right pre-snap, he got it there and we moved the chains. Now you’re looking at a 57 yard FG without another yard gained. You’re down by 2 points. Which mindset favors you and your football team more with everything we’ve seen from them to date, letting Brandon throw another ball or letting James McCourt kick one with the wind in his favor? Is there even a case to be made for the former, honestly? Those are situational play calls and for the first time in a long time, they were called correctly.

The Dre Brown comment is unfortunate and it happens far too often here. Any time a kid makes a play, he does it in spite of the coaching but any time he screws up...oh boy, are we ready to call for Lovie’s head. You can’t have it both ways. We didn’t want to risk turning the ball over through the air so we called a run play to a kid who ran like an absolute animal all day long and it worked yet somehow, you’ve turned that into a bad thing. In all seriousness, what else do you want Rod Smith to do here? Launch a deep ball? Try that stupid Trenard Davis fake run/pass thing again? Or maybe, just maybe, we give the ball to one of our best players. I think that’s only logical.
 
To call it luck is both right and wrong.

On the right side, recovering a fumble is not a skill. It’s very literally luck that should occur with no more predictability than a coin flip. This season we have recovered something like 90% of the fumbles we have forced. That’s incredibly lucky, as that percentage does not project forward with any level of sustainability. HOWEVER, forcing a football is a skill and because we are forcing fumbles at incredibly high rates, the volume of fumbles we will recover at even coin flip odds tells you that we are going to have a turnover rate that is higher than an average football team. That is where he is wrong.

Lovie has plenty of faults but he’s doing something right here. I hope we keep after it.
Luck favors the prepared my friend
 
I respectfully disagree.
What you saw was Lovie being Lovie. (This is my point). There is far too much historical evidence (looking back no further than the first half) to think that this was good planning. I'm sorry.

Here is what I see, and I base this off his quotes of "being right there" in games, giving ourselves a "chance to win". THAT should not be the goal, and it is apparent, repeatedly, that it is.

Lovies goal wasn't to win. His goal was to have a chance. And if it works out? Awesome.

that's how he approached Nebraska. It's inexplicably how he approached EMU. (His "comfort" with the "situation" at half time... of a game we are winning by a touchdown... "no need for more points, not even 3... we played a good half, never mind we only need 15 yards in 1:30 to kick a field goal.).

Lovie, with his approach, was ALWAYS to kick a long field goal. He got lucky, that Dre broke 3 tackles. If he doesn't, nothing changes... and we attempt a 52 yarder. And either he hits and we win... or lovie says "we did our job. We were right there, with a chance to win."

Paul Chryst, unfortunately, was the only coach who was ever going to properly use timeouts on that last drive. (And even he made one goof, in my eyes.).

It is, unfortunately, impossible for me to prove that something would have happened... I recognize that. But history speaks to it clearly.

Lovie has not turned a corner, I do not believe. And I hope to be proven wrong.

His players, on the other hand, very well may have.
I guess I'm just confused as you have yet to offer another strategy that would logically make sense in the situation...

Here are the play sequences after the turnover:

2:32 left - 1st & 10 at ILL 47
Reggie Corbin run for no gain to the Illin 47

2:02 left - 2nd & 10 at ILL 47
Reggie Corbin run for 4 yds to the Wisc 49

1:30 left - 3rd & 6 at WIS 49
Brandon Peters pass complete to Daniel Barker for 9 yds to the Wisc 40 for a 1ST down

0:55 left - 1st & 10 at WIS 40
(0:47 - 4th) Reggie Corbin run for 2 yds to the Wisc 38

0:47 left - 2nd & 8 at WIS 38
Dre Brown run for 13 yds to the Wisc 25 for a 1ST down
Timeout WISCONSIN

0:33 left - 1st & 10 at WIS 25
Reggie Corbin run for 2 yds to the Wisc 23
Timeout WISCONSIN

0:28 left - 2nd & 8 at WIS 23
Dre Brown run for 1 yd to the Wisc 22
Timeout WISCONSIN

0:24 left - 3rd & 7 at WIS 22
Dre Brown run for 1 yd to the Wisc 21
Timeout ILLINOIS

0:04 left - 4th & 6 at WIS 21
James McCourt 39 Yd Field Goal

What play in this drive would you have called differently? Are we "lucky" Dre Brown got 13 yards on that one run? Maybe, but he's also an excellent runner and it certainly wasn't a "bad play call".

If you could give any sort of alternative play calling that an actual coach with a chance to beat the #6 tam in the country would have called, I'm all ears...
 
Winning tomorrow would be huge. Rutgers/NW would be the path, with a winnable game at MSU to maybe get to 6 before NW

(Drunk on Kool Aid, wouldn’t have expected to be making this post 168 hours ago)
 
Winning tomorrow would be huge. Rutgers/NW would be the path, with a winnable game at MSU to maybe get to 6 before NW

(Drunk on Kool Aid, wouldn’t have expected to be making this post 168 hours ago)
Definitely. We win tomorrow, everything lines up for us. Even with Purdue beat up and a shell of itself, a road win in the Big Ten against a team not named Rutgers one week after upsetting Wisconsin is clear progress for this program.

What a difference one game can make.
 
Just North of the Southern border!
I HATE that I feel this way... but I can't help but recognize a few things that are seemingly being overlooked Bc we won last week.

For this post, i'll only focus on the clock management at the end of half and games.

First half.
After 5 or 6 straight weeks of opportunities, we are still, one of the, if not THE worst D1 team at the management of this.
Lovie Smith, after choosing to use no timeouts, for three weeks earlier this season, with chances to score at the end of the half of very close games… this time (and for the 2nd time in 3 weeks), INEXPLICABLY called timeout AFTER... yes AFTER his team failed on third down, resulting in giving the opposition extra time. I repeat, we called timeout... to punt.
(On 4th and 4, in our own territory.)
Let that sink in.
No coaching staff in America has been worse at clock management in the first half 2 min drill.

---
End of Game.
It would be very easy, to simply call the last drive… perfection... because did we score? Yes. Did we win? Yes.
However... It's worth looking under the hood.
We obtain the ball with 2 1/2 minutes to go in the game, roughly. Needing to go 40ish yards for a FG chance and 70ish for a TD. (I didn't look up the yard line.)

We proceeded, in hurry up mode... to run... wait for it...
4 plays... in 1:50. (check the tape. That's not an exaggeration.) and this was with multiple first downs and clock stoppages to move the chains!

(you can tell me we wanted to leave nothing on the clock for Wisconsin... great... and I will tell you, without question, that THAT is a decision you make when you have REACHED FG range, and you can kneel to force timeouts, and such, not when it's still in question. and it was undoubtedly still in question.)

The clock only stopped at the :40 mark, after the miracle run by Dre... because WISCONSIN used their first timeout... bc their coach is smart enough to realize it's his only hope.

WE did not manage the clock on the last drive, and likely would have effed it up... had WISCONSIN not managed the clock for us, using all 3 of their timeouts. (The last 2, not overly relevant.)

I was a staunch Lovie supporter, am a huge Illini supporter, and love love love this win...

but everyone is pretending that we've "figured it out" potentially. I watched our kids win DESPITE some really obvious coaching blunders.

unless Lovie hires someone to manage the game and the clock (he is NOT going to figure this out. It's been 20+ years and he's literally at the bottom of D1 at this), this WILL cost us more games

Only SLIGHTLY better coaching/Gameplan/clock management, and we beat both EMU and Nebraska.
Think about our season, then.

We played a great game. Our plan worked vs Wisconsin. Enjoy it. Hats off. the players may have turned a corner. Lovie and staff need to catch up.
Even if we are overlooking a good number of things, does it matter? Winning matters. IMHO, these things need to be sorted out after the season (and I am not too sure that our DIA is capable of dealing with the issues in FB and maybe even in BB).
 

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I guess I'm just confused as you have yet to offer another strategy that would logically make sense in the situation...

Here are the play sequences after the turnover:

2:32 left - 1st & 10 at ILL 47
Reggie Corbin run for no gain to the Illin 47

2:02 left - 2nd & 10 at ILL 47
Reggie Corbin run for 4 yds to the Wisc 49

1:30 left - 3rd & 6 at WIS 49
Brandon Peters pass complete to Daniel Barker for 9 yds to the Wisc 40 for a 1ST down

0:55 left - 1st & 10 at WIS 40
(0:47 - 4th) Reggie Corbin run for 2 yds to the Wisc 38

0:47 left - 2nd & 8 at WIS 38
Dre Brown run for 13 yds to the Wisc 25 for a 1ST down
Timeout WISCONSIN

0:33 left - 1st & 10 at WIS 25
Reggie Corbin run for 2 yds to the Wisc 23
Timeout WISCONSIN

0:28 left - 2nd & 8 at WIS 23
Dre Brown run for 1 yd to the Wisc 22
Timeout WISCONSIN

0:24 left - 3rd & 7 at WIS 22
Dre Brown run for 1 yd to the Wisc 21
Timeout ILLINOIS

0:04 left - 4th & 6 at WIS 21
James McCourt 39 Yd Field Goal

What play in this drive would you have called differently? Are we "lucky" Dre Brown got 13 yards on that one run? Maybe, but he's also an excellent runner and it certainly wasn't a "bad play call".

If you could give any sort of alternative play calling that an actual coach with a chance to beat the #6 tam in the country would have called, I'm all ears...
I truly don't want to belabor this... but let me go macro, instead of micro, to see if it helps.

We obtain the ball, as you said, w/ 2:32 on the clock, needing 30 yards for a manageable 40 yarder, to win. (Or a touchdown to not have to sweat a kick, from a somewhat unproven still, kicker. Who I love.) That is your MINIMUM goal (while Lovie plays as if it his maximum goal.)

According to your timeline, with only :55 to go, we've gone a grand total of 13 yards... in 4 plays... and used 0 timeouts to have limited any of that loss of time.

That means at :55, we are looking at a 57 yarder. Not good.

I could stop there, as those were my biggest issues with the drive. When you get tackled in the field of play, at that point, in that scenario ... you use a timeou, to save :30.... that is the miss... Bc on another play, you can run OOB to stop the clock. A smart coach knows to preserve 1 TO for your field goal, but you absolutely utilize the others, if necessary, to optimize your chance to score.

and that's the issue...

You don't play for a long field goal... which we did... and fortunately Dre's run decreased the distance of that long field goal. And Chryst called us a timeout after that run.

Even then, we were satisfied with a 38-42 yard attempt.

Again, I repeat, it worked... but as someone who believes in optimizing the chance, and not just doing what we do and hope it works out... the drive could have been better/smarter, and I personally want a coach that recognizes that (and also a fan base that recognizes that.)

It is possible to succeed, while not doing your best. We did that on that drive. But to become a better team and program, you have to be smart enough to recognize it and improve.

It worked. I'm grateful. Ill take it all day any day. It was still mishandled. And if we don't fix that, it will bite us again.

(So it's not the play calls. No issue. It's the mismanagement of the time requiring a bit of a bailout by Dre, and Chryst.
 
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St. Louis
I want to believe that last week wasn't an aberration and is the turning point for this program. However, too many times I've played the role of Charlie Brown to Illinois Lucy. Last year my dad and I made the decision the day of the Purdue game to drive up from STL to watch the game because we thought it was the turning point. We all remember the beatdown we received. I think we get similar results today. Brohm is a very good coach with a lot of offensive weapons. Don't get me wrong I will go crazy today if they win, but the sample size for being let down by Illinois football is too large for me to think they will win. Hope I'm wrong. Go Illini!
 
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