After the first game in Hawaii, it was pretty clear: the offense needed to improve. We needed more consistency out of our quarterback position and our running game. For week 2 against Eastern, we got Cyler Miles back. He wasn’t amazing or anything, but he was steady. And, it didn’t really matter, because our running game went off the hook. But, the defense took a huge step back as we faced a terrific passing attack.
We knew – going into this Illinois game – that we’d be facing another up-tempo, pass-first offense. So, if our D didn’t come to play, we’d be stuck in another shootout with another inferior team.
Thankfully, the Huskies put it all together. The passing game was good, but a little unnecessary, as we again rushed for well over 200 yards (246 to be exact). The offense as a whole piled up 465 yards. And, the defense came to play. Yeah, the fighting Illini racked up 351 yards of their own, but they weren’t exactly harmful.
When you talk about this game, you have to talk about Shaq Thompson and his two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Or, I guess, nevermind. One was an interception, one was a fumble return. Forgive me, on Saturday I spent all morning drinking at the tailgate, then was sort of hungover for most of the game, as is what happens when you stop drinking. But, yeah, Shaq had his hands all over this game.
The defense as a whole forced three turnovers. They kept Illinois to a 1 for 11 success rate on converting third downs (1 for 1 on 4th down, but that’s neither here nor there). They limited their rushing attack to 2.8 yards per carry. Yeah, 19 points kind of sounds like a lot, but they didn’t get their first touchdown until the Huskies had 35 points on the board. Their other touchdown happened in the third quarter, and then there was nothing. Considering how much we were up by in this game, and factoring in all the reserves that probably got playing time on defense, I’d say holding them to 19 is pretty good.
This is exactly the game the Huskies needed. Something where it was all put together. THIS is what the Chris Petersen Huskies should look like going forward. Everyone is familiar with the scheme and the play-calling. Everyone has had a chance to get their feet wet and ease into this season. On top of that, we play a very hapless Georgia State team this Saturday, which will push our record to 4-0.
And that’s the most important part: the Huskies are undefeated. We may not be ranked anymore, but we’re still in this thing. We’ve survived our rough patch and in a couple weeks, we should be totally prepared for REAL football to start.