I stayed up late for that? After last week’s win gave us high hopes for the season, last night’s ugly loss put us back at square one. Which team is the one we will see next week, and the week after that? Was the 24-7 win against Western Michigan last week only due to WMU’s incompetence on the field, or do the Illini really have skills?
Time will only tell. The season clearly won’t start off like last year’s 6-0, but as long as it doesn’t end with 6 losses then I will be happy.
Nathan Scheelhaase ended up watching the game on the sidelines, and wore headphones that made me wonder who was actually calling the game. It would’ve been nice to have him in, but I don’t think it would’ve really made that much of a difference. The offense wasn’t on fire, but it was the defense that failed at their job, giving up 45 points. Going into halftime with a score of 28-7 doesn’t feel good, and it only got worse.
Reilly O’Toole did most of the QB work in Scheelhaase’s place, with Miles Osei also contributing. Well, contributing 2 interceptions that is. Osei seemed to look a little better, but O’Toole was able to at least score one TD in the 3rd when he passed the ball to Eddie Viliunas. O’Toole was 10-14 and passed for just 54 yards, while Osei was 4-10 and passed 47 yards.
So the offense was rough, and the defense was nonexistent. ASU also played two QBs, but only so the other guy could get some minutes as the slaughter continued. Taylor Kelly, whose first start ever for ASU was last week, threw for 249 yards and 1 TD. The backup? Michael Eubanks threw 5-5 for 69 yards and 2 TDs. That’s right, the backup QB made just 5 attempts and completed all of them, and threw for more yards than either of our QBs. That’s sort of the epitome of what went on last night.
Losing last night was a very real possibility. The Sun Devils were the favorites, but by 3 points, not 31. Losing stings, but losing by that much is a punch in the gut and a kick in the face. The key now is to see how Coach Tim Beckman can help the guys brush of this ugliness and move on to the next.
Next week Illinois will get to return home to what should be a simple game against Charleston Southern. In my opinion, Scheelhaase should sit out one more game just to make sure he’s fully recovered before we have to face another real opponent (which won’t be until Penn State on Sept. 29, if you can really consider them a real opponent anymore).
I’m disappointed, sure. And, I’m also pretty embarrassed. On the bright side, the game was on so late that no one probably watched it. Also, who knows ASU might actually be pretty good this year and go on to do big things in the Pac 12 and then the loss isn’t so ugly. However, last year we barely scraped by with a win against the Sun Devils, who also went on to implode in a similar fashion, which is why both teams had new coaches last night.
Let’s just sort of pretend last night didn’t happen, unless of course we decide to actually learn from the loss. That would be nice as well. The season is very young and this is still a brand new team with a fresh new outlook under the Beckman Era. Losses are going to happen, and I can’t wait to see how he and the team respond.
I am also excited to attend my first game of the season next week! Illinois will host Charleston Southern in Champaign at 11pm Central.