In the light of the horrific knee injury to Munchie Legaux, it's hard to be too worked up about the 45-17 beat down the Fighting Illini put on the Bearcats today. Getting 45 hung on you by a team that won 2 games in 2012 isn't exactly great. The pass defense has a lot to work on. Nathan Scheelhaase ripped the Bearcats defense at will. Let's be fair, the run defense was also awful because they gave up over 200 yards to a team that ran for like 50 against Southern Illinois. The offense would get going at times, but would sputter at others. There is no consistency. On top of all that, the starting quarterback suffered a horrific injury. Not the best day for UC football. More importantly, all the best to Munchie Legaux. Rally back, 4.
All of the worries about the first road game of the season came to fruition. 4 first half false start penalties really threw the offense off. Quarterback roulette didn't help things. The defense wasn't able to make plays. 0 turnovers forced. Although they should have forced 1. They allowed Illinois to get into a rhythm that they couldn't snap. Once the boulder went down hill, it went all the way down. Maybe the team had a big head after beating Purdue. Maybe they weren't ready for an 11 am start. Maybe they just aren't as good as we thought. The people who doubted why UC hired TT got their bitter piece of the pie today.
It's hard to blame the officials for a game like this when UC was dominated, but they had a hand in key moments. With UC down 11, they overturned a TD that Munchie Legaux may not have actually scored live but was a ruled a TD, saying he fumbled. UC looked like they forced a turnover when Nick Temple just ripped the ball away from an Illinois back, but that was ruled not a fumble. Illinois marched down the field, scored and that was pretty much that.
Tuberville made a couple of very questionable calls that really hurt Cincinnati. Going for it on 4th and goal was questionable. I would have done it. I would go for everything because I'm not paid to coach. That would end up being a huge swing. Instead of a sure 3, UC got nothing. Illinois, fairly or unfairly, went 99 yards to score. That made it a 3 score game. Choosing to decline the holding penalty on what would have been 4th and 1 or 2 was also very questionable. You think your defense can hold there. But you know Illinois would punt. The Illini converted and scored again. In an afternoon where things backfired against UC in every way, Tuberville saw them blow up in his face as well.
Things started decently. UC forced Illinois to punt. UC went from the 6 to midfield in a couple plays before having to punt. Illinois converted a 3-13 to keep their second drive alive. That was big. With the ball at the UC 48, Nathan Scheelhaase connected with Josh Ferguson, who caught Arryn Chenault in a mismatch, for a 48 yard TD. 7-0 Illinois.
Cincinnati's next drive was ended when Munchie airmailed a 3rd down throw. He was pulled for a couple of drives. Brendon Kay's first drive went 3 and out. A 26 yard punt return set Illinois up near midfield. They cashed in again. After converting two 3rd downs, an end around to Ryan Lankford was perfectly blocked. Lankford went untouched from 29 yards out to put the Illini up 14-0.
UC once again went 3 and out with Kay under center. Illinois would march down the field with a 10 play, 76 yard drive that took nearly 5 minutes. They converted 3 more third downs. The last being a 3-2 at the UC 23. Instead of getting a first down, the Illini got 6. A well called play action pass saw Evan Wilson wide open for a 23 yard score. 21-0 Illinois.
Cincinnati would get points before the half. With Munchie back in, UC went 69 yards on 14 plays. It seemed half of the plays took place at the Illinois 2. On 3rd down on the last offensive play of the half, Munchie connected with a wide open Max Morrison in the back of the end zone. It was Morrison's first career TD catch. 21-7 Illinois.
The second half got underway with UC punting, Illinois punting and the Bearcats driving. After a horrible 20 yard punt, Shaq Washington caught a 25 yard pass after yet another false start. UC ran a bad 3rd down play with a bad throw by Munchie. That set up Tony Miliano from 37 to make it 21-10.
Controversy covered the next Cincinnati drive. UC marched down to the Illinois 1. After a couple of RDA runs for not much, UC went for it on 4th and 1. Now this was a questionable decision down by 2 scores in the 3rd quarter. You never want to chase points when you don't have to. Tommy Tuberville decided to. It looked like Munchie Legaux got to the goal line. It was ruled a touchdown. On the review, it was determined Legaux didn't get it and fumbled at the 1.
Illinois went on the offensive with a 99 yard TD drive. That wasn't without some controversy. Nick Temple appeared to have ripped the ball from an Illinois running back at the Illini 10. This was not overturned. A coverage mix up saw Illinois score to go up 28-10.
UC marched back down the field in a minute. RDA punched home his 2nd TD of the year with a 13 yard run. The drive literally took 1:14. It was fast.
Illinois went right back down the field with some slow ball. The put the UC in the grinder. Facing 3-9, they completed a pass a yard or two short. There was a hold. Tommy Tuberville chose to accept the penalty. Another questionable move. Illinois converted 3-19. They were able to get to the UC 2, but the Cats defense held. a 19 yard Taylor Zalewski field goal was good. But 6 and a half minutes went off the clock. 31-17 Illinois.
This is the part of the game where Munchie injured his knee. Brendon Kay came in. He got UC down inside the 20. He was sacked on 4th down to pretty much end things.
First half stats.
Team Stat Comparison
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Yards per pass
Yards per rush