Illini Spring Recap Part One: Defense

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By Paul M. Banks

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After Illinois and the Big Ten in general looked much worse than we’re used to in basketball season, are you ready for some spring football? Then check out some future Big Ten stars at 1 PM ET Saturday, April 19, during the 3-hour Big Ten Tonight: Spring Football Showcase presented by Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith (I-L-L……I-N-I!) will host the program from Chicago with live look-ins from that afternoon’s eight Big Ten spring games. The BTN game day set has chosen Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign as their location. “With the excitement coming off the 2007 season and the ongoing construction of Memorial Stadium, Illinois will provide a great backdrop for this special show,” said Steve Greene, Illinois’ Big Ten Network Coordinator.
 

The First Line

The deepest and most experienced unit on the Illini defense will be the defensive line. David Lindquist and Will Davis are two returning senior starters. In addition, Derek Walker and Doug Pilcher also return to now start on the D-line, while four more bring significant game experience to the table. The returning players know what needs to be accomplished this spring to improve their position. The one hole in the middle of the line is the gap left by former defensive tackle Chris Norwell who started 46 games for the Illini defense. Look for the stud recruit from Simeon, now a sophomore, to step up and earn more playing time.

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“What does it take to be #1”

Right now, all the coaches are saying the defense is way ahead of the offense. Of course, they said the same thing at this time last year, and you all remember how that ended up. In a great season, the rushing offense was the best in school history. Its typical for the defense to be outplaying the offensive unit at this time of year and  in one of the spring’s major scrimmages, the D took over. In tackling numbers, the safeties and middle linebackers led the way with Nate Bussey accumulating 9, Bo Flowers 8 and Brit Miller 8, and Sam Carson’s 7. The defensive line accounted for six of the 10 sacks with tackle David Lindquist and end Derek Walker each grabbing two. True-freshman Ashante Williams came up with the first interception of the day, returning the pick 43 yards. Andrew Harweger made a diving catch to record the second. The secondary is a young and rising unit, let by the man with the best closing speed I’ve ever seen, #1 Vontae Davis. The cousin of NFL Tight End Vernon Davis will likely bolt this year if he has a strong campaign. The unit will also have to recover from the losses of senior safeties Justin Harrison and Kevin Mitchell. 

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It’s Miller Time

Obviously, the biggest graduation loss this off season was that of stellar linebacker J Leman. To compensate? Well, it was announced that University of Illinois linebacker Brit Miller is among 42 of the nation’s top collegiate defensive players who have been named to the 2008 Lott Trophy Watch List. Miller is the second consecutive Illini defender to be named to the Lott Watch List, after J Leman earned finalist honors last season.  Miller, a senior linebacker, will be a four-year starter this season. He recorded 62 tackles in 2007 and 8.5 tackles for losses, including three against USC in the Rose Bowl…But I’d rather not say anything more about that game right now.

Illinois’ spring game will be shown in its entirety Sunday, April 20 at 7 p.m. CT on the Big Ten Network.

I plan to watch this game intensely. (Yes, I’m a very big geek to really get into spring football) and I’ll recap the offense after that.

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Comments

  1. The Statue of Harold Baines says

    those chicas are HOTTT!!!!! GO ILLINI!

  2. the spring football game is like Pro Bowl… does anyone REALLY care?

  3. Paul M. Banks says

    Hey man, those first couple of scrimmages drew 300 whole people to Memorial Stadium..despite the rain and cold

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