Press Box Live Blog: NU-ILL

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By Paul M. Banks and Paul Schmidt

(PMB) Here we go, Land of Lincoln trophy on the line….

(PS) Illinois’ offense looks anemic so far…great field position on their first two drives and no points to show for it. Jacob Charest has looked really, really sharp so far nice zip on his balls.  The problem still lies in my guy Matt Eller, who missed a chip shot field goal for a three point lead.  Stefan Demos missed a long one for the Kitties made longer by a false start, so we’re still stuck at zeroes midway through the first quarter.  In a related story, the glare is so bad in the press box, I can’t see my computer screen — I could be typing anything right now…how’d I do, PB?

(PMB) not bad not bad….I like how NU brought all their cheerleaders and band. It’s like a home game for them. No wait, the stadium is full, so really its nothing like a home game for them

(PMB) How are you enjoying watching Northwestern’s running game? And by running game, I mean Kafka throwing 5 yard slants and 3 yard flare patterns to Zeke Markshausen all day. Did you know Markshausen is the Big 10’s 2nd leading receiver? A former walk-on now 2nd in big ten in receiving…

(PS) Do you think that Zeke, every time he makes a catch, yells, “VERE ARE YOUR PAPERS!!!?????!!” to the defensive back covering him?  Actually…that probably didn’t make any sense to anyone reading so I’ll briefly explain. Zeke Markshausen sounds like one of the Nazis prosecuted at the Nuremburg Trials.  Seriously, yell, “VERE ARE YOUR PAPERS?????!!!!?!???” after every one of his catches. It’s fun!

(PS) It occurs to me that if someone had told me that Illinois’ Mikel Leshoure was going to emerge as a viable deep-threat at running back, as well as an every down back…well, I’d have first not believed you.  But after that shock, I’d have said that that meant the Illini were going to run the table in Big Ten.  Seriously.  And he just broke his third big carry of the drive…

(PMB) LeShoure has been impressive no doubt. he’s like the new Mendenhall. emerging late in the season as a starter…now wait, he just wears the same number, that’s about all he has in common with Shard.

(PMB) Now 3-0, 10:50 to go in half…after 3 missed FGs, Eller finally connects. still this 3-0 is a lot closer than the score would indicate. But since the Illini are getting just good production out of their run game, I’d say they have the momentum…and Sidney Stewart might just be the worst wide receiver in division 1 FBS football. that drop was atrocious, and a huge drive killer.

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(PS) Actually it was NOT Matt Eller…Derek Dimke has apparently become the Illini kicker.  If we were ranking position battles in NCAA Football, I’m thinking Dimke versus Eller would rank somewhere around 1,024.

Incidentally, Jarrod Fayson just got whistled for an illegal block after a fair catch, and that’s the SECOND time this season that he’s been called for that particular penalty.  Umm…did we keep the receipt on his transfer??

RAPID FIRE QUESTION — True or false — Illinois’ front four has outplayed Northwestern’s front four thus far.

(PMB) True, just look at Illini YPC so far. NU’s front four is getting blown back by Illinois’ big country corn-fed boys. They’re clearing space for LeShoure who has 73 yards rushing already, and Ford has about 20 as well.

(PMB) And welcome to the game Corey Wootton, who’s now probably 100%…just in time, with 1 game left in the season. I guess he heard me criticizing the NU def front

(PMB) Question for you, what is the most bad-ass thing that Illini football is known for. What is the most notorious or cool story associated with “the program”? My nomination is New Year’s Eve before the 1984 Rose Bowl. The widely circulated (yet ultimately unproven) story that UI alumnus Hugh Hefner had the team over at the Playboy mansion to do some blow and get wasted. And that’s why UCLA utterly destroyed them the next day. Top that?

(PS) Well, I heard tell (and by heard tell, I know people who saw them out) of Illinois players out on Bourbon Street at 6 in the morning the day before the Sugar Bowl, although the Hef story is certainly more scandalous.

I would say from a seediness standpoint it still doesn’t top the basketball team, though.

(PS) VERE ARE YOUR PAPERS!!!!????!!!!!!!!!

(PMB) Agreed nothing will be as seedy as the 2007 party/DUI incident. Jamar Smith is a watse of a human life.

Markshausen NEIN! MACH SCHNELL! DAS IST GUUD

Thats the same EXACT PLAY, to the same exact spot of the field, Kafka to Markshausen, both times!! same route, same spot, how do you get burned that badly twice like that? now 14-3 NU 6:30 in 3rd Kafka has 270 yards passing already. Kafka to Markshausen, that’s very Continental European sounding. as for that 50-60ish yard completion to Brewer, how do you not finish that? I can’t believe he got caught from behind by the Illini safeties

(PMB) on the radio broadcast in the bathroom, I heard Barnhart refer to Eddie McGee as Juice on the air. then later said “Eddie Mcgee still the quarterback” weird…

(PS) Man, what was the smallest gain on the last two Wildcat drives??  They look as though they are a juggernaut right now, as they are probably going to finish off an 80 yard drive after going 99.5 on their last one.

I think at this point, as has been the problem all season, the Illinois defense is just gassed.

As for the Illini offense, they have gone three-and-out…they have had some critically bad penalties…they just can’t finish drives off. Also, the offensive numbers that were once close are now completely out of whack, as NU is dominating time of possession and the total yardage situation.

(PMB) agreed. it was even, but NU has taken over completely this half. leshoure had 77 yards rushing at halftime, he has 76 now. passing yards 302 to 51! Yikes.

When they punch it in here, this game’s over. Looks like your prediction was well…off a bit. Mine was off too. I said 27-23 NU. btw, Arby Fields is the next Rocky Harvey.

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(PS) There’s our obligatory Rejus Benn injury for the game…he jogs off though so who knows what was wrong. I’m starting to think he might be a be a bit of a bitch…

No Jacob Charest and Mikel Leshoure for the entire third quarter.  They both come in on the first drive of the fourth quarter and VOILA…that’s a TD.  My buddy from Iowa, Ray, calls that being Zookered.

Incidentally, Illinois went for two and failed after the TD.  While they did and now still do need a two point conversion, conventional wisdom is that you wait until the last possible second to go for two, thus keeping you in the game as long as possible. Going for one and hitting it would mean we’re looking at a two score game still — TD and an FG.  Now, with the missed conversion, the Illini have penned themselves in to needing two touchdowns, not a move you want to make with so much time left in the fourth quarter.

BTW, that’s also being Zookered.

(PS) By way of a post-mortem, the final was 21-16, Northwestern, as they take home the big stove-pipe hat for the first time.

Part of the danger of being in the press is that you end up on the field here at Illinois, thus missing the end of the game from your bird’s eye view. Even worse, sometimes teams make a run like Illinois did.  Even worser (??), sometimes there is a play like the Jarrod Faison interception, and you don’t have any clue what exactly happened.

I still don’t really.

Paul Banks and I were actually right on top of that play, and what we both saw was Faison get one hand under the ball and one on top. No bobble.  He then brought the ball to his chest, it appeared.  Somewhere in the scheme of things, the Northwestern DB ended up with the football, with the salient points being that A) It looked like Faison had the catch, and had control of the ball, B) Not only that, he was on his back, and C) While on his back he was touched by the defender.

All that seems to me to point to a reception by Fayson and a first down, not a pick.  If anyone anywhere has seen a replay of this describing what exactly happened, please, let us know in the comments…

Of course, the Illini probably wouldn’t have scored a TD anyway…

(PS)  OK…here’s the official word from Referee Dan Capron regarding the game-clinching interception by Northwestern’s Sherrick McManis:

“What the line judge saw was the Illinois receiver attempt to catch the pass, but he never completed possession of the ball.  He was on his back in the field of play and the ball was basically on his chest. The receiver did not firmly grab and possess the ball.  Before he had an opportunity to do so the defender from Northwestern came up and did possess the ball, and that’s why it was ruled an interception on the field. That play was then buzzed by the replay booth, as we expected it would be given the magnitude of the call. Then, (replay official) Tom Quinn determined that there was not indisputable video evidence available to overturn the call on the field.”

Quite honestly, this is an absolute CRAP explanation.  I saw, with my own eyes, Jarred Faison grasp the football with two hands and then make a move to possess the ball to his chest.  He made a football move, which is all that is required in this particular case for the ball to be a reception (obviously, he also needs possession and one foot down — but I’m saying he DID have that possession, and since he was on his back in the field of play, essentially that counts as one foot down). When McManis touched Faison to try and intercept the pass, he was touching him down.  No interception, first and ten for the Illini.

While it could be argued whether or not there was indisputable evidence — the replays at the stadium sure seemed to indicate reception, however — the call was flat-out wrong to begin with.  Terrible job by the Big Ten officiating crew, and hopefully they will be censured at some point this week for completely screwing the pooch on this one.

Of course, it again bears mentioning that…yes…I know…Illinois probably wouldn’t have scored anyway…

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Comments

  1. Good top job putting a bow on this piece. Its great that Illinois allows you onto the field for the last 6 min, NU does not. and its fun to watch the game from that vantage pt. but of course we miss out on things like this…comebacks etc.

    that call was complete horseshit. Lisa, wearing her purple told all the Illini fans around her that she thougth it was crap too. cuz it really was.

  2. of course, like you said. there was no way in hell the illini were going to come back and score a TD. no way

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