Ohio State vs. Illinois Instant Analysis

    E-mail Phil Harrison Follow me ... @PhilHarrisonCFB 1. The Best Defense is a Good QB? You often hear the best defense is a great offense. There’s

    November 14, 2015

    E-mail Phil Harrison
    Follow me … @PhilHarrisonCFB

    1. The Best Defense is a Good QB?

    You often hear the best defense is a great offense. There’s definitely some truth to that in a lot of cases, but in Ohio State’s situation, the best defense might be a great quarterback. True to reports and Urban Meyer’s own admissions, J.T. Barrett took over the starting spot under center coming off of his suspension, and though he didn’t have a banner day, it was still more than good enough.

    What is glaringly evident is the way the defense plays with Barrett calling the shots. Sometimes the entire team gets a boost, including the defense, when confidence in the abilities of your offensive leaders coming through are on full display. It’s no coincidence that the Buckeye defense has begun to find its groove with the freedom that comes from knowing the other side of the ball can hold up its end of the bargain.

    2. Elliott’s Heisman Chances

    We know what a talent No. 15 is for Ohio State. He has decent size, but also surprising speed and power to go along with his great vision of picking out running lanex. Zeke also has some of those intangibles that go unnoticed like blocking and execution. However, he’s been on the fringe of the Heisman discussion all season largely because of Leonard Fournette and the drama that has gone along with the Ohio State quarterback race. But that might all be changing.

    With the pedestrian week Fournette had against Alabama, and the lack of an elite quarterback population this year, the award is now more up for grabs than just a few weeks ago. In this one, Elliott got a bit of a slow start, but as he often does, the talented running back got better as the game wore on and had a monster of a second half. All told, he finished with 181 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. The meat of the schedule is coming up with Michigan State, Michigan and the Big Ten title game to go, so the opportunities to make a statement are attainable on the Scarlet and Gray horizon.

    3. Cubit as Non-Interim Head Coach?

    With all of the interim tags the Illinois program is dealing with, you have to wonder when a decision will come forth regarding the history of its head coaching position. The Illini are dealing with an interim head coach, interim chancellor, and now interim athletic director that all have to figure out the direction of this program, and start having conversations somewhere around … yesterday. It’s a tough one to make though. Maybe they can hire an “interim” consultant to help them out.

    If you are simply judging Cubit’s job by way of wins and losses with what he was handed, there is improvement and a lot to like, but there have also been some curious moments with some of the small and finer points of in-game situations. In this one, the team was not on the same page with a fourth down rushed attempt on offense, and despite being down in the fourth quarter, there was no sense of urgency to get plays off quickly to hustle and make a game of it. The price tag might be great, but there is reason to pause on removing the temporary tag. Illinois would be well-served to make a decision like Minnesota did this week. It’s hard to believe there is something better out there anyhow, at least this year.


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