USF 25, Illinois 19 POSTGAME

Thanks for attending, but I'm not ready to concede this point. They have the better offense, no doubt, but I'm not so sure about the better team. A few breaks the Illini way (potential interceptions caught, flag for holding not picked up(!), just slightly better thrown balls or catchable balls caught, starters back from suspension(?)) and the Illini could have won handily. If committing penalties at inopportune times absolves a team of deficiencies, well, the Illini might be a top 20 team the last few years!

I also want to comment on a roughing the passer penalty committed by USF. J Leman and Dave Revsine seemed to think the Illini caught a break, but they seem to be ignorant of a rule that is now four years old. I was not aware of this rule, either, until soupy17 brought it to our attention in the WIU game thread. Basically, no hits at or below the knee when the qb is in a passing posture. Based on this rule, it was an obvious penalty. Here's the link soupy17 shared:
NCAA approves new rule to protect QBs against hits below knee
The thing is, MJ wasn’t set in a passing posture. He jumped to throw that one.

We caught a break there.
 
The official attendance was 21,725. There's simply no benefit to playing in Chicago if the crowds are going to be that small. It has to be losing the university money to rent out Soldier Field for that small of crowd.

See the last 3 Soldier Field games:

9/14/13 Washington 47,312
11/28/15 Northwestern 33,514
9/15/18 South Florida 21,725
Worse still was how high the percentage of USF fans and they were a spirited bunch
 
Champaign
I always love watching these breakdowns after games. Lots of misses but still better compared to last year especially the oline who looked like lost puppies last yesr.

 
Carbondale, IL
I was only able to watch the first half before going to work, so as crushed as I was when I checked the final score, overall I’m encouraged. That said...

-Buy out that last game of the Soldier Field contract ASAP and don't even think about playing there again until we've gone to four straight bowl games.
-If we don't have some semblance of a pass rush by the end of the season, you've got to be concerned about Austin Clark.
-With how bad so many of our conference opponents look, I think we should be very disappointed by not winning at least two B1G games.
 
I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but I was listening to the postgame show and someone called in and asked "does anyone realize there was still one second left on the clock after the last pass?" If you go back and watch, we should have had one second left on 4th down since the pass was incomplete.
 

Deleted member 631370

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The official attendance was 21,725. There's simply no benefit to playing in Chicago if the crowds are going to be that small. It has to be losing the university money to rent out Soldier Field for that small of crowd.

See the last 3 Soldier Field games:

9/14/13 Washington 47,312
11/28/15 Northwestern 33,514
9/15/18 South Florida 21,725

I realize Whitman and others are looking to fundraise and all that, and that's important.

But I'm not convinced we're helping our brand more than hurting it by playing in front of a near-empty stadium. All this "we are Chicago's Big Ten team" crap rings pretty hollow when hardly anybody in Chicago cares enough to attend the game.

How about this. How about we take the baby steps first -- you know, winning than 3 games a season on a regular basis -- before promoting the brand with this Soldier Field nonsense.
 
Usf fan here, I can tell your team is improving and on right track, turning a program around isnt quick usually takes years but starts with good recruiting.

For some reason we play you guys really sloppy...last year we had even more penalties.

Goodluck the rest of the season...hope you guys pound Rutgers.
 
The official attendance was 21,725. There's simply no benefit to playing in Chicago if the crowds are going to be that small.
The attendance at Memorial Stadium has followed a similar trend for a very simple reason; the product on the field has been painful to watch. The problem isn't the venue. How is having an empty stadium away from home any worse than an empty stadium at home? And the images they showed from around Chicago during the game were spectacular, which will certainly appeal to some.

Lovie is addressing the problem by improving the product on the field. As we start winning more, those seats will fill. And giving the Chicago alum one chance each year to come out and enjoy their team is a good idea. The problem has been that the results haven't made the experience very enjoyable. That will change.
 
Encouraged for the most part, but this loss hurts after being in the position to win for the vast majority of the game. The 2nd half offensive play calling was a little confusing, especially on first down. We had a lot of success running the ball all game and there were 2 or 3 consecutive drives in the 2nd half where we threw a conservative horizontal pass for little or no gain, putting the team in a 2nd and long situation. The second down play calls were successful running plays for 5-7 yard gains, but with only one down to gain a first, the USF defense were able to snuff out the short passing game pretty effectively. The absence of play action calls after a long runs was also confusing.
 

Deleted member 631370

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The attendance at Memorial Stadium has followed a similar trend for a very simple reason; the product on the field has been painful to watch. The problem isn't the venue. How is having an empty stadium away from home any worse than an empty stadium at home? And the images they showed from around Chicago during the game were spectacular, which will certainly appeal to some.

Lovie is addressing the problem by improving the product on the field. As we start winning more, those seats will fill. And giving the Chicago alum one chance each year to come out and enjoy their team is a good idea. The problem has been that the results haven't made the experience very enjoyable. That will change.
A few reasons, in my opinion.

1. First and foremost, I think we stand the best chance to win games when we're playing at home rather than a quasi-neutral field. We need every win we can get.......we need to put ourselves in the best position to win, no matter what. Ditto for basketball -- us scheduling Ohio State in Chicago is going to prove to be a really stupid error, in my view. Begin to win games first, and then proceed with the marketing stuff.

2. When we play at Soldier Field, the message we're sending is that we're trying to brand our program, market ourselves in Chicago, and showcase ourselves on a bigger stage. When nobody shows up to the game -- and we lose -- it's doubly embarrassing.

3. Somewhat related to #1, playing in a venue like Soldier Field is going to attract more opposing fans. On TV, it sounded like there were as many USF fans there as Illinois fans. Had the game been at home, I imagine fewer visiting fans would have made the trek to beautiful Champaign, IL.
 
Someone needs to explain to my why our defensive scheme makes any kind of sense. We front with 4 defensive linemen and never blitz. Our 4 cannot get enough push to get to the QB. We need to send a CB or an LB every other play. The USF QB was no run threat at all, but to me we seemed to want to contain him. Secondly, our cornerbacks play way off and the opposition completes 5-7 yard passes in front of them consistently. Bang bang bang right on down the field. Can't anyone play press or jump a route, ever?

By the way, we never throw to our tight ends over the middle. That's what they're there for.
 
How is having an empty stadium away from home any worse than an empty stadium at home? .
It's alot easier for the players to prepare to play at Memorial Stadium, than travel anywhere else for a game. If you are going to play in front of small crowds regardless, at least make it easier on your team.

And I don't think Lovie Smith has any effect on getting fans to come out to the game. There was an initial bump in attendance when he was hired, but that is gone now. And it's non-existent in Chicago. In Beckman's 2nd season (even after his awful 2012), Illinois sold 47,000 tickets for Washington. This is Lovie's 3rd season, and they sold 21,000 in Chicago for South Florida.

There's not enough alum demand for a game in Chicago to warrant playing there IMO. All it does is make it harder for the team to win games.
 
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The thing is, MJ wasn’t set in a passing posture. He jumped to throw that one.

We caught a break there.
I don't know. That may be the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. I haven't read the official rules, which may have changed in the last four years. But the announcers gave no consideration to this rule.
 
Bloomington
Someone needs to explain to my why our defensive scheme makes any kind of sense. We front with 4 defensive linemen and never blitz. Our 4 cannot get enough push to get to the QB. We need to send a CB or an LB every other play. The USF QB was no run threat at all, but to me we seemed to want to contain him. Secondly, our cornerbacks play way off and the opposition completes 5-7 yard passes in front of them consistently. Bang bang bang right on down the field. Can't anyone play press or jump a route, ever?

By the way, we never throw to our tight ends over the middle. That's what they're there for.
No, nobody eligible to play in the first half (with the possible exception of a one-handed Tony Adams) can play press man coverage. Barnett CAN run (check his stats and highlights over the first two games), hence the DL contain.

When the opponent goes 4-5 wide and you have one player who can play man coverage or handle themselves on an island, you can't blitz without exposing yourself to a home run play. Again, the secondary for this game was FR, injured SO, JR, Walkon, Walkon).

I understand the frustration with a lack of pressure. But with the players available for this game, IL had to be as bend-but-don't-break-y as possible on defense. If they blitzed with any regularity, you would've seen a lot more plays like USF's final TD. With Hobbs, Adams and Williams back, I think you'll see some more creative pressures.
 
The USF QB was no run threat at all, but to me we seemed to want to contain him.
He doesn't seem like a threat to run, but he absolutely burned GT with his running. Containing him had to be part of the game plan.
 
The attendance at Memorial Stadium has followed a similar trend for a very simple reason; the product on the field has been painful to watch. The problem isn't the venue. How is having an empty stadium away from home any worse than an empty stadium at home? And the images they showed from around Chicago during the game were spectacular, which will certainly appeal to some.

Lovie is addressing the problem by improving the product on the field. As we start winning more, those seats will fill. And giving the Chicago alum one chance each year to come out and enjoy their team is a good idea. The problem has been that the results haven't made the experience very enjoyable. That will change.
In 2013 the attendance was 47,000 against Washington. The previous year we were 2-10 and most people were already over Beckman. Granted, Washington had a good chunk of fans there (much more than USF). But the woe is us attitude this fan base has gets pretty old. Why can’t we just support a young team and an experienced coaching staff? An extra 20,000 fans might’ve given them the encouragement they needed to seal the win.
 
Bad loss. USF had over a hundred yards worth of penalties, two turnovers and two missed FGs, they practically tried to give the game away. And good lord they need a real QB, not a RB masquerading as one. Even the most hardened Illini fan knew the game was pretty much over when USF scored to take the lead.
Yes it was maybe the sloppiest game I have seen USF played in many years but I disagree on your QB just a RB masquerading as one. Quinton Flowers at USF in his first start vs a 0-9 SMU was not that impressive at all only 30 yards rushing and 100 yards passing but he turned out pretty good with us...so give the guy some time before you write him off. If you see some flashes from him this season then next season he could look much improved.
 
Bad loss. USF had over a hundred yards worth of penalties, two turnovers and two missed FGs, they practically tried to give the game away. And good lord they need a real QB, not a RB masquerading as one. Even the most hardened Illini fan knew the game was pretty much over when USF scored to take the lead.
MJ Rivers is not a runner lol. That was pretty obvious if you watched the game. He's capable of running but it's not his strong suit. He prefers to sit in the pocket and sling it. That's what he did in high school. He certainly has work to do, but most freshmen QB's do. Let him develop.
 
When the opponent goes 4-5 wide and you have one player who can play man coverage or handle themselves on an island, you can't blitz without exposing yourself to a home run play. Again, the secondary for this game was FR, injured SO, JR, Walkon, Walkon).
Don't forget the Walkon DB coach.
 
I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but I was listening to the postgame show and someone called in and asked "does anyone realize there was still one second left on the clock after the last pass?" If you go back and watch, we should have had one second left on 4th down since the pass was incomplete.
I don't think anyone's mentioned it. I'll take your word for it and, if true...ugh, makes this hurt more.

Okay, so I live in Japan, so the game started at 0430 Sunday my time. I had to work in the morning, so chose not to wake up and watch it in real time. I watched it in the late afternoon, early evening on Sunday, and then had to take 24 hours to decompress before offering my thoughts. Here they are:

The Good: We lost by six to an opponent that many predicted would beat us by 20+. The special teams were phenomenal, the running game was decent, and I thought the lines played pretty decently. (Some have noted limited pressure, but what they lacked in pressure they made up for with at least 4, maybe as many as 6, deflected passes. Those will add up.) And this was all STILL without the #1 QB (we think) and significant suspended players, who I think we all expect back next week, otherwise there's really no rational explanation for their suspensions.

The Bad: The Illini stayed in this game because of special teams and penalties. Neither the offensive nor defensive units played particularly well. With even an average B1G special teams unit, and without the many and costly penalties committed by USF, the Illini lose this game by at least two scores, maybe three. The offense struggled to string together first downs throughout the game and the defense clearly seemed winded by the 4th quarter. Still, special teams are one of three units, so their prowess shouldn't just be dismissed. And good, well-prepared teams force penalties. So there's some silver lining. But given the choice, I'd rather play a close game because our offense and defense played well, not because our special teams played well and the other team committed too many penalties.

The Ugly: 4th quarter collapse. After seeing improvements in the second half of both previous games, I actually believed the Illini were going to win when we went into halftime. Been a while since I could say that (against a decent opponent...or a bad one, if we're being honest). So that part's good. But then they didn't live up to it! The play calling was too conservative, the players themselves seemed scared to lose the game, and we seemed to be outclassed in the conditioning department (which surprised me). We are not talented enough to crumble in the 4th quarter and win B1G games, even against the weakest opponents. I hope that doesn't happen again.

If we were 3-0, finding three more wins would be pretty easy. At 2-1, finding four more wins is pretty hard in my opinion. Even though the difference came down to one bad pass at the end of the game (and potentially being deprived of the chance at another pass). I don't think we make a bowl this year. But after 24 hours of reflection, I'm still gunning for five wins, as I was at the beginning of the season. It still seems achievable, and would still represent a significant step forward for the program.
 
Montgomery, IL
I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but I was listening to the postgame show and someone called in and asked "does anyone realize there was still one second left on the clock after the last pass?" If you go back and watch, we should have had one second left on 4th down since the pass was incomplete.
I agree. I rewound it several times after the last play, and it sure seemed to me that the ball hit his hands OOB right before the 0:00 hit. I was very surprised it wasn't at least reviewed.
 
Centralia, IL
Playing in front of 40,000 at Memorial Stadium would've been better than 21,000 at Soldier Field. Coming from somebody who was in attendance Saturday, it was embarrassing.

As said before, proud of the guys for proving most of us wrong and being very competitive. That doesn't make the loss sting any less, though. We're getting there.