Digital Access

Digital Access
Access saukvalley.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from SaukValley.com, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.
College

College football: Brown sees some Jekyll but lots of Hyde in Iliini defense

Illinois' Tim Kynard (59) and Jonathan Brown sack Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave on Saturday in Champaign. It was one of a handful of good moments – surrounded by lots of bad ones – in the Illini's 56-32 loss.
Illinois' Tim Kynard (59) and Jonathan Brown sack Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave on Saturday in Champaign. It was one of a handful of good moments – surrounded by lots of bad ones – in the Illini's 56-32 loss.

CHAMPAIGN – Jonathan Brown can see the potential on film.

There are moments, however fleeting, when the Illinois defense resembles a stout unit – when each player minds his gap and makes the tackle he is supposed to make. That’s one team, the senior linebacker said.

Then there is that other team. The one that allowed 624 rushing yards over its previous two games against Nebraska and Wisconsin. That one showed up a little more frequently.

“When I turn on the film, I see two different teams,” Brown said. “At one point in the game, I see a team that can’t be stopped when we execute and make the tackles we’re supposed to make. We could be a really good defense. But you look even further at some points in the game, and we just lose it.”

Brown, an elder statesman of the defense, has put the onus on himself to try to keep it together. But he can’t make it alone.

“The lack of senior leadership on defense is starting to show itself,” said Brown, one of two senior starters on the depth chart. “It’s one thing to have a lot of young guys that can play, and it’s one thing to have a lot of seniors that can make the plays.”

His job might be a touch easier Saturday than it has been. Michigan State comes to town, and though the Spartans are no doormat, their rushing attack averages nearly 100 fewer yards per game than Wisconsin and Nebraska.

The Illini have to be careful not to overcompensate for previous shortcomings.

“We’ve done some good things on defense and we’ve done some bad things, and the bad things have been blaring,” coach Tim Beckman said. “It’s not an effort thing. It’s almost overpursuing at times … trying to make a play and they don’t make a play.”

The defense is building for the future. As a senior with NFL aspirations, Brown wants that future sped up. However, he understands better results require more patience.

“If it doesn’t happen this year, I know this group of guys will mature and they’ll be a good team,” Brown said. “But I’m not counting out this season.”

Loading more