Josh Ferguson could carry the Illini on his back


Watching Illini running back Josh Ferguson today reminded me of those old “we secretly switched Folgers Crystals with the leading brand….let’s see if anyone notices” commercials from back in the ’80s. Except the switch would be Josh Ferguson for Marshall Faulk.

That’s how special Ferguson was in the passing game; complementing his running for Illinois. “Now that we’ve made the switch, let’s see what happens during Big Ten play.”

I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much there. Ferguson carried the Illini on his back today, and that enough to beat a mediocre mid-major. However, they still got housed in the time of possession battle yet again, and that’s going to be a major issue when they teams with very strong ground attacks like Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska.


Josh Ferguson had a career high 190 yards rushing on just 14 carries as he rescued the Illini, who once again needed a desperate rally in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. This was exactly like the Western Kentucky game, and pretty similar to the Youngstown State game. Illinois again, didn’t show up until the second half.

Ferguson talked about what a huge difference new Offensive Coordinator Bill Cubit has made:

“He’s changed the culture of our offense in the past year he’s been here. He’s a genius. He puts us all in the best positions for every single person. The quarterback is playing well, I’m playing well, the running backs are playing well – as well as the wide receivers and tight ends. We’re just excited to be under his guidance.”

QB Wes Lunt on Josh Ferguson’s big game:

“Josh is a huge spark for our team, like him on that screen making a play and on that long run busting up the middle. Josh is an electric player and we’re lucky to have him.”


In Ferguson’s first two years in the program he didn’t do much that stood out. However, in 2013 he got a ridiculous amount of yards after the catch. RIDICULOUS. And yards after contact too; as we’ve seen him break tackles left and right. Ferguson has converted simple screen patterns and basic wheel routes into huge explosion plays.

Today Illinois FINALLY got something out of the running game. They’ll need to do that every week

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and sometimes writes The Sports, which is partnerwith Fox Sports and Yahoo.  Read his features stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. Listen to him on 1620 The Zone. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) His work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including The Washington Post and ESPN2

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