Big Ten notes: Illini need to look at ‘everything’; Stat of the week and more

Big Ten notes: Illini need to look at ‘everything’; Stat of the week and more
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

Illinois (1-2) has an open date this week before facing Nebraska on Oct. 1. Coach Lovie Smith on Tuesday said his team needs time to re-evaluate “everything” after back-to-back losses by 25 points to North Carolina and by 24 to Western Michigan.

In Saturday’s 34-10 spanking from WMU, the Illini netted 3 yards rushing against the Mid-American Conference foe while giving up 287.

“When you have so few yards rushing, there is an issue (with run blocking),” Smith said. “But there is a bigger issue, whether it’s trying to run the ball or passing. We had issues with pass protection also.

“Going into the game, we knew it was about controlling the line of scrimmage. They controlled the line of scrimmage.”

Midway through a scoreless first quarter, Illinois went for it on fourth-and-1 at the WMU 38. Illini back Tre Nation was thrown for a 2-yard loss, and Western Michigan promptly drove 60 yards to take a 7-0 lead. It was 21-0 just four seconds into the second quarter.

“They just beat us to the punch,” Smith said. “They won one-on-one battles. You can’t win many football games if that happens.”

Senior quarterback Wes Lunt has completed 62 percent of his passes and thrown just one interception. But he has been sacked eight times in three games.

Stat of the week

Iowa coaches count mental errors for each game. In the first two games combined, the total was 10. In the loss to North Dakota State, the number was 17.

Players of the week

» Offense: Ohio State wide receiver Noah Brown. The sophomore from Flanders, New Jersey, caught four touchdown passes in a win over Oklahoma.

» Co-defense: Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker. Peppers, a sophomore from East Orange, New Jersey, had 3.5 tackles for loss in a win over Colorado. Baker, a sophomore from Cleveland, had seven tackles and a 68-yard interception return in a win over Oklahoma.

» Special teams: Peppers. He is the first player to earn defensive and special teams honors in the same week. He had 204 all-purpose yards in a win over Colorado.

» Freshman: Nebraska punter Caleb Lightbourn. The Washougal, Washington, product averaged 47.2 yards on five punts in a win over Oregon.

Bits and pieces

» Penn State starting linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White, a fifth-year senior, has suffered a season-ending knee injury for the second straight year. His leg buckled in last week’s win over Temple. A year ago, he blew out an ACL in the opening game.

» Two starting quarterbacks in critical Southeastern Conference games this week are transfers from Purdue: Danny Etling at LSU and Austin Appleby at Florida.

» Wisconsin lists three of its top four tailbacks — Corey Clement (ankle), Taiwan Deal (leg) and Bradrick Shaw (shoulder) — as questionable because of injury for Saturday’s game at Michigan State. Nebraska plays Wisconsin on Oct. 29.

» Minnesota tailback Shannon Brooks, expected to be the starter before breaking his foot in fall camp, is back on the depth chart this week but at No. 3. Nebraska plays Minnesota on Nov. 12.

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