Illinois Preview 2011

#22 Michigan travels to Champaign to tackle the #21 Fighting Illini, both teams are ranked in the Top 25 and Michigan is a 3 point favorite. Michigan has 67 wins in 92 games against Illinois including 33 wins including 46 games in Champaign.

Illinois has the #6 ranked total defense nationally, and they are ranked #6 in tackles for loss and #3 in sacks averaging 3.5 per game. They are a stingy group allowing only 103 yards on the ground, 249 yards total offense and 17 points per game, but only 11 points per game in Big Ten competition. The Illini defensive front is powerful, 31 sacks in 9 games and the best rushing defense in the Big Ten. They are led by Junior Defensive End Whitney Mercilius who leads the nation in sacks with 11.5; he also has forced 6 fumbles and has 5 quarterback hits along with 44 tackles, 16.5 for loss in 9 games. Mercilius is not merciful; he is mean and brutal. Good luck to Lewan and Huyge! Sophomore Akeem Spence has been steady at Defensive Tackle with 46 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble. Junior Glen Foster is the other defensive end; Sophomore Tim Kynard backs him up. Junior Bandit Linebacker Michael Buchanon is the #2 sack specialist in the Big Ten with 6 sacks, 46 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 4 quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Junior Justin Staples backs up Buchanon. Sophomore WILL Linebacker Jonathan Brown is their leading tackler; he has 69 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, 4 pass break ups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. MIKE Linebacker is Ian Brown; he is the second leading tackler with 55. Senior Trulon Henry is the SAM Outside Linebacker. Redshirt Freshman Houston Bates will also see action at Linebacker. Senior Tavon Wilson, Junior Terry Hawthorne and and Junior Justin Green are the cornerbacks. They are solid in coverage, and pack a punch with their sure tackling in space. The Strong Safety is Sophomore Steve Hull, and the Free Safety is Junior Supo Sanni. We will need to do all we can to prevent Denard Robinson from leaving this game without a concussion.

On Offense, the Illini are led by Sophomore Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaause; he completes 64% of his throws with 12 TDs with only 5 interceptions and has run for another 5 TDs while averaging 243 yards of total offense per game, 187 in the air. His favorite target is Senior Anthony Jenkins; he has 68 receptions, #1 in the Big Ten, 1030 yards and 7 TDs in 9 games. Sophomore Ryan Lankford is the other wideout. 235 lbs. Senior Jason Ford is their leading rusher; he has 492 yards rushing with 6 TDs plus 14 receptions for another 105 yards. Senior Troy Pollard has 390 yards, a TD, and 3 catches for 10 yards. Freshman Dohnovann Young will also get some carries. The offensive line is anchored by Senior Left Tackle Jeff Allen and Right Guard Jack Cornell. Juniors Graham Pocic and Hugh Thornton man the center and guard positions. Redshirt Freshmen Michael Heitz and Simon Cvijanocic are rotating at right tackle. Sophomore Evan Wilson is the tight end, and Sophomore Jay Prosch is the fullback. The Illinois offense is not great, but they rank 4th or 5th in the conference in most categories, but are #1 in time of possession.

Illinois special teams have been not so good in 2011. Their net punting is ranked 105th nationally and 10th in the Big Ten, and their freshman punter Justin DuVernois has averaged 37.6 yards per boot with 15 downed inside the 20 and 15 fair catches in 41 attempts. On punt returns, Lankford has only 31 yards in 18 attempts ranking them 118th nationally. Troy Pollard is only averaging 16 yards per kickoff return, and their team is ranked 119th nationally. The Illini kickoff cover team ranks 12th in the Big Ten. Senior Derek Dimke is a great placekicker though; he is 7 of 8 in field goals, and he was 24 of 29 in 2010.

This meeting will be the opposite of last year's 67-65 overtime thriller that saw both teams put up 1237 yards of total offense. I hope our defense is up to the task.

Michigan 16 Illinois 14

Friday Walk Through on November 11

Brady Hoke Press Conference on November 9

Al Borges Press Conference on November 8

Greg Mattison Press Conference on November 8

Mike Martin David Molk Ryan VanBergen on Illinois

Brady Hoke Press Conference on November 7

Games Notes for Illinois (Illinois Game Notes for Michigan)