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Illinois vs. Nice Things: Week 11

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Wild FEDJELEM appears!
Wild FEDJELEM appears!
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Nice Things Illinois Has, Updated for Week 11 of 2015.

-A winning record! (Week 9 [4-4]) (Week 10 [5-4]) (Week 11 [5-5])

-Scored a touchdown in 25 0 1 0 consecutive games (Week 11)

-CANNON (Week 10)

-A replacement-level offensive line in the passing game, which has allowed 14 sacks of Lunt all season long despite his lack of mobility.

-A halfway decent defensive line, which held Ohio State to 4 of 13 on 3rd down, was in the backfield all day breaking up plays and forced and recovered a fumble at one point

-In fact, the whole defense gets a shout out. Illinois fumbled twice but the defense came up with two turnovers of their own. They only really allowed two long scoring drives all day. Elliot racked up 181 on the ground but his longest carry was 17 yards. The defense gave the team a real chance to win.

-Senior safety Clayton Fedjelem is now the Big Ten leader in tackles with 115. Not bad for a former walk-on.

-Five trips inside the OSU 30, which we converted into three points via a field goal, a missed field goal, a botched snap and subsequent fumble on the desperation running attempt, an extremely obvious dive play on 4th and 1 and another fumble.

-Diehard fans are willing to stick around til the end (Week 11) For the first time in years, I left early. As I mentioned, the defense kept us within striking distance, so with about 10 minutes to go, a 21-3 deficit was theoretically possible to overcome with us forcing a punt. Our return man proceeded to muff the punt and OSU recovered near our 10, at which point I tried to get my group out of the stadium before the inevitable Buckeye touchdown to no avail.

-Depth at RB (Week 5) with SR Josh Ferguson, who outrushed the rest of the team by 78 yards despite gaining only 49 himself, RS JR Devin Church (transferred to EIU), RS SO Kendrick Foster, who I haven't seen very much of, 3-star FR Reggie Corbin(torn labrum; season), 4-star FR Dre Brown(ACL), JUCO transfer Henry Enyenihi(where has he been?) and 4-star FR Ke'Shawn Vaughn (Week 11; possible concussion)

-Dual-threat QB Aaron Baileywho would have been just the kind of raw talent a new coach would love to see on his bench with two more years of eligibility (if we'd ever actually redshirted him). Oh well.

-Bill Cubit could be one of the most successful interim coaches ever when you consider what the expectations were before Beckman was fired. Vegas had us at 3.5 wins without factoring in all the turmoil that any team (ask OSU 2011) faces with an interim coach.

-Mike Dudek's redshirt.

-Four downs to gain 10 yards just like everyone else (Week 5 showed that sometimes we don't)

-Junior WR Justin Hardee (broken foot in offseason)

-Stalwart DT Teko Powell and veteran LB Mike Svetina returning from foot injuries that they both re-aggravated, requiring surgery

-If all goes according to plan, all Illinois games will be on TV this year (Week 1; postponement due to lightning left this game without a broadcast crew)

-Illinois has only lost to Iowa once twice (Week 6) since 2007.

-No player arrests this season Dammit (Week 10)

-An uninspiring-at-best kicking battle between Tayler Zalewski and David Reisner Seemingly settled by Tayler Zalewski, who, after scoring what would be our only points of the game, kicked off out of bounds. He would later doink a try off the upright, and would get no further chances after Cubit decided special teams could not be trusted

-19-season streak of not losing to Nebraska at home.

-Hope, against all odds, that the next coach hired will lead us to the promised land, invigorated by the lack of competition for similar jobs at the beginning of the year No, as of Week 9, we don't even get this. At the beginning of the year, it seemed like Illinois would have its pick. Now it is a 100% certainty that USC, Miami, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota, UCF, Hawaii and UNT will be hiring a new coach next year. As of week 11, add Missouri and UL-Monroe in the mix.

-Over the last two weeks, Missouri and Yale have managed to reduce the amount of attention paid to the laughingstock that is Illinois these days...so thanks for that.

-An undefeated record at home this year. (Week 8)

-The new Grange Grove is an extremely nice touch to Memorial Stadium. Pregame was more lively than I've ever seen by a wide wide margin. For that matter, we had pretty good attendance, and though it was certainly inflated by OSU fans, the student section was full due to someone in the DIA realizing how important it is to fill the student section.

-No shutouts since 45-0 at Michigan in 2012 (Week 9)

-HAT HAT HAT HAT HAT HAT HAT HAT HAT. I'll trade you the HAT for Jim Phillips. What do you say?

-The Assembly Hall The State Farm Center is under construction, so we're playing at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.

-Transfer center Mike Thorne Jr is the best post player we've had in at least 5 years.

-The Incomparable Three-in-One, despite the best efforts of our former faculty. Despite the fact that our beloved halftime show predates Chief Illiniwek, this suite of three songs faces constant attack by the professionally outraged. Perhaps they would like these alternate lyrics to March of the Illini that could help avoid offending people ranging from the gender-conscious to the elderly to the disabled to those who abhor fighting:

We are marching out here for dear old Illini,
For the men who are fighting persons competing for you,
Here's a cheer for our dear Alma Mater,
May our love for her ever be true! We avoid pronouns and so should you!
While we're marching along life's pathway doing whatever we're able,
May the spirit of old dear Illinois
Keep us marching and singing all still existing with true Illini spirit
For our dear old dearest Illinois!

Things That Are Not Nice But Are Still Things Illinois Has

-Tim Beckman (Week 1)

-Wes "The Statue Of Limitations" Lunt, prolific abandoner of plays. I get the idea of being risk-averse with your throws, but when the defense plays well and you can't run the ball, at some point you have to start slinging! It was like he was terrified to throw over the middle for fear of being picked off. I grew very tired of watching him drop back, see coverage and go "screw it" and toss it out of bounds. He did occasionally change it up by dropping back, rolling out, and chucking the ball at an RB's feet. But I can't lay it all on him, because he's merely playing within the system of...

-Bill Cubit, offensive guru and quarterback whisperer, whose offense has gotten worse in each of the 3 years he's been in Champaign. Here's some numbers:

Name Comp Att Incomp Yds Yds/Att TD Att/TD
Lunt 216 393 177 2241 5.70 12 32.75
Armstrong 185 338 153 2560 7.57 21 16.10
Hills/Rowe 137 288 151 1552 5.39 13 22.15
Cook 175 311 136 2482 7.98 21 14.81
Leidner 187 315 128 2167 6.88 11 28.64
Hackenberg 149 275 126 1992 7.24 13 21.15
Blough 166 288 122 1565 5.43 10 28.80
Sudfeld 178 295 117 2449 8.30 16 18.44
Stave 178 292 114 2162 7.40 10 29.20
Thorson 121 230 109 1259 5.47 6 38.33
Beathard 163 267 104 2044 7.66 10 26.70
Rudock 185 288 103 2220 7.71 14 20.57
Laviano 153 253 100 1978 7.82 12 21.08
Jones 110 176 66 1460 8.30 8 22.00
Barrett 56 85 29 622 7.32 8 10.63

Notes on this: Lunt has thrown more incompletions than Jones has thrown passes. He has more incompletions than Beathard and Hackenberg have completions. Only Thorson, Blough and the two-headed monster of Rowe and Hills average fewer yards per attempt, but Lunt has thrown over 100 times more than any of them. Lunt throws a touchdown once every 32.75 attempts. The only quarterback with a lower Yd/Att and a higher Att/TD than Lunt is Clayton Thorson, but he's only thrown 58.5% of the passes Lunt has. The Illinois passing game is getting into Fitz Toussaint 27 for 27 territory.

-An offensive line that suddenly becomes a set of turnstiles every time we hand the ball off. 20 rushing yards, despite Josh Ferguson rushing for 49.

-Athletic director Mike Thomas (Week 11) With just 19 days left in the regular season, the interim chancellor and interim provost decided it was the right time to fire Thomas before that report came out. Why we couldn't have done this at, say, the beginning of the season I don't know.

-Pending release of that external investigation whose preliminary reports prompted an immediate head coach firing. It's out and it's badThis thing is going to land during the season (Called it) and it's entirely possible that more heads are gonna roll (Called it)

-The unofficial voice of Illinois Football, Beth Mowins (weeks 3/9)

-Men's Basketball Nope. 7 of the Illini's first 8 opponents went to the NCAA tournament last year, including North Florida, who led wire-to-wire in our season opener, during which Jaylon Tate suffered a pinky dislocation requiring surgery. While we should be fully healthy by Christmas, we may already have 4 or 5 losses by then. This was a bad year to have a good out-of-conference schedule.

In Conclusion: With an interim chancellor attempting to form an interim search committee to put an AD in place, it's almost a foregone conclusion that we're going to screw this up. The fans want so badly to care about Illinois and are desperate for something to make it worthwhile.

Laughingstock or no, at least we have a HAT.