CHAMPAIGN — There was no official checklist of things the Illinois Fighting Illini wanted to get done on Saturday at Memorial Stadium against Miami (Ohio).
But, if the team had made one, the Illini (3-1) probably accomplished most everything on it during their 50-14 win over RedHawks with maybe a few exceptions — one, in particular.
“They got 14 points, and we wanted a shutout,’’ said senior linebacker Jonathan Brown, who had nine tackles to lead Illinois for the fourth straight game. “We were in position to get, and we know the mistakes that we made’’
Miami (0-4) scored twice in the final 17 minutes, 9 seconds as Illinois had mass substitutions after building a 43-0 lead. But both Brown and sophomore defensive back V’Angelo Bentley saw the kind of improvement the defensive unit was striving for after the 34-24 loss to Washington, two weeks ago.
“We’ve been working on our tackling for the last two weeks,’’ Bentley said. “I thought our tackling got better and we are doing better of recognizing formations. We are understanding what the offense is trying to do to our defense.’’
And still, not getting the shutout was something that bothered the Illinois defense.
“It’s very frustrating, because we have pride in our ourselves on getting the shutout,’’ Bentley added. “We have pride in ourselves on playing good defense. We didn’t get a takeaway today, but we got some three-and-outs. So, we will continue working on creating more turnovers.’’
While the defense can definitely see areas that need improvement, most people would be hard pressed to find too many areas of concern with the Illini offense this season.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase continued his very impressive season with five touchdown passes — more than he had in every game during the 2012 season. Four of those scoring strikes came during a 29-point second quarter, setting a new school record.