It has begun my friends. The Illinois football season. The Big Ten football season. The NCAA football season. It is surely an exciting time of the year. Football is half of the reason I love fall, the other half is because this is the time that baseball gets really good. This also means that NFL football begins Sunday, another thing I could not be happier about considering we almost didn't have a season. So I thought I would say a few words about my reactions to Saturday's Illinois game against Arkansas State. (Side note for all you Illini fans out there, football is not the only sport you can go and watch. Please, stop by the volleyball court, soccer field. Those teams will not disappoint with exciting action and intense matches).
Any who, back to football and the Illini recording their first game of the season win since 2006. Of course this happened because they have played Missouri the last four years and have gotten their butts whooped every one of them. I will say though, this one did not start out pretty, at least in the second quarter. I surely did not expect this average opponent to give Illinois a run for their money (yes at one point the Illini were losing). But finally it got to their heads that they actually needed to play ball. The second half was significantly better than the first, but not all together reassuring.
The safety in the first half was no doubt troubling. Not only was it unacceptable special teams performance, the play call was not the right one. Luckily, this play did not happen against a team like Wisconsin or Ohio State. The better performances came in the second half when Nathan Scheelhaase actually looked like a QB throwing two beautiful passes. Jason Ford did not necessarily look like a Leshoure but there is no doubt in my mind that he will do a sufficient job this season.
What I want to look at for next week though is just Illinois taking over a game. Dominating. To be honest, I didn't really feel that this past Saturday. Scheelhaase just needs to run and throw all over the South Dakota State defense and show that he is better than his freshman year self. We also need to see someone really step up on defense. Since losing Martez Wilson I haven't quite seen that yet, though it is still early. I just want to see better play calling, more dominate play and actually a better cheering section from the Block I. It's cool though, we still got plenty of time and a lot more William Tell Overture dances to go. "TO THE LEFT..."
With that some fantastic side notes.
1. As said earlier, the NFL kickoffs its season tomorrow with a Thursday night game with the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, but the Bears kickoff on Sunday. It should be an interesting season especially since teams didn't get much time to really prepare. Not even sure who I pick to win it all, but I may have to go with Steelers.
2. Really sad news happened yesterday when a plane crashed in Russia carrying the KHL hockey team. Always sad to hear news like this.
3. On a happier note, Serena Williams (such an entertaining tennis player) is still in the U.S. Open, which is great news. Pretty upsetting that Sharapova lost though, she played so well at Wimbledon. I'm still hoping to see Nadal and Djokovic in a final again. We'll see in a few days.
With that I say... Live long and prosper.