To the Booth: Illinois By the Numbers

By Chad Peltier on November 14, 2013 at 11:15a
Remember Juice Williams? Scheelhasse isn't far off from that

Oh hello there, Illinois. Almost didn't see you come in. You see, we've been arguing about whether we deserved to play in the national championship and almost forgot we are playing in a few days!

But honestly, Tim Beckman and Illinois are having a forgettable year. Apart from beating up on Cincinnati, it's been five straight in-conference losses and not too much in the way of highlights. Maybe that's a little unfair, as Illinois is second in the conference in passing yards per game, albeit in mostly losing fashion.

Below I preview the Illinois matchup and how the Buckeyes should fare.

When the Illini Have the Ball

Here are the Illinois offense's vitals:  

  PPP YPP YPA RedZone TD Explosive Plays
OSU Defense .26 18.3 4.8 56.5% 20
Illinois Offense .42 14.3 6.00 56.8% 51
  • Ohio State remains one of the best teams in the country at keeping plays in front of them. With only twenty opponent plays of more than 20 yards, the Buckeyes are tied for first in the country with Oregon and right in front of FSU and Michigan State.
  • I took a look at Scheelhaase's situational production, and I found that he doesn't seem to be on his A-game in pressure situations. In particular, his completion percentage drops significantly from 70.1% in the second quarter to 57% in the fourth quarter.
  • He's also less accurate in the red zone, with his accuracy dropping to 54.2%. This might be part of the reason why the Illini are 46% less likely to score a touchdown in the redzone than the Buckeyes.
  • The Illini's turnover margin is -5. Between that and an explosive play margin of -5, it's pretty easy to see why the Illini don't win very many games.
  • The Illini's runningback, Josh Ferguson, had a 20% RBSR and 2.6 YPA on nine carries against Michigan State. So, those numbers don't really do justice to Ferguson, since MSU is just one of the best rush defenses in the country...but you get the idea.
  • Illinois does have a surprisingly high number of explosive plays on offense, so this should be a good warmup for Indiana, who takes the whole "terrible defense and good offense" thing to Mike Leach-levels. In contrast, Purdue was the opposite—terrible offense and fairly decent defense (I'm feeling generous). 
  • Scheelhaase has done surprisingly well this season, throwing for 2600 yards and 17 touchdowns already. However, against Michigan State and Wisconsin (the only defenses they've played that managed to put their cleats on the correct feet), he managed a more pedestrian 7.67 YPA. MSU held him to 103 yards passing.
  • He's his best on first down, when Illinois actually has the greatest number of passing attempts. Further, he has far more than twice as many passing yards on first down than second and third down combined. In comparison, Braxton has roughly equal yards between first vs. second and third down.
  • The numbers don't suggest Illinois will have the running game necessary to grind out long drives against the Ohio State defense, but will instead be forced to rely on big plays in the passing game.

When OSU has the ball

They will score points, and likely a lot of them:

  PPP YPP YPA Redzone TD Explosive plays
OSU Offense .64 11.0 7.0 82.6% 53
Illini Defense .48 13.9 6.78 84.4% 56
Braxton has dodgy eyes over that Illinois defenderBraxton should rack up the yards this week
  • Here's some context for the Illini's 56 explosive plays this season (in nine games, or more than six per game): Georgia State, New Mexico, Toldeo, Kansas, and Tulane all have given up fewer plays of 20 yards or more than Illinois. That's bad enough for 112th in the country.
  • Probably the only statistic you really need to know is that Michigan State put up 42 points on this defense. Michigan State. Jim Bollman. *shudders*
  • The Illini really struggle with creating negative yardage plays. They only have ten sacks on the year and most of their production comes from the linebackers (7.5 total sacks). They're not high on tackles for loss either, with only 46 (105th in the country). To be fair, Ohio State's defense isn't exemplary in TFLs either, with 53. Fortunately, TFLs aren't closely correlated with many other defensive efficiency metrics.
  • Speaking of TFLs, they are on the other hand a pretty good indicator of how good an offensive line is at run blocking (Stanford, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia are in the top ten). Ohio State is fifth in fewest TFLs allowed, averaging just 3.9 per game.

Comments Show All Comments

stantmann's picture

Lol Arkansas - We miss you Bert!

Breakawayspeed's picture

They pass a lot on first down.  Interesting. 
 Spence & Co will have Schoolhouse running for his life!

Chad Peltier's picture

This is what I'm thinking. The Buckeyes should dial up plenty of pressure, though I'm guessing Fickell and Withers will hope that can come from 4 man rushes or automatic blitz checks by Shazier.

boojtastic's picture

This game has me nervous...then again, i would consider a 21 point win a horrible showing

Larryp713's picture

Illinois and Purdue are two teams I hate playing. Yes, we often blow them out as we should. But both teams have good athletes, and it is amazing how some mediocre players put on their All American underwear against the Buckeyes. I love this Buckeyes team tendency to jump on teams early.



Hovenaut's picture

Get the feeling streaks will continue after this game.

extemporary08's picture

It's pretty cold to be running around naked...

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

Just please please don't let this happen again:

Illinois 28
(8-3, 5-2 Big Ten)
Ohio State 21
(10-1, 6-1 Big Ten)
3:30 PM ET, November 10, 2007
Ohio Stadium, COLUMBUS, OH
1  2  3  4 T
ILL  14  7  7  0 28
OSU  14  0  7  0 21
Top Performers
Passing: T. Boeckman (OSU) - 156 YDS, 3 INT
Rushing: C. Wells (OSU) - 20 CAR, 76 YDS, 2 TD
Receiving: B. Hartline (OSU) - 4 REC, 86 YDS

Yeti's have feelings too.

CC's picture

I was at that game, that Illinois team was pretty good.
I expect to win by 50+.

IBleedSandG's picture

I put the blame of that loss squarely on Boeckman. He threw some awful picks in the game.
The botched fumble call in the 1st qtr didn't help either.


TexasBuck11's picture

Was that juice Williams eighth or ninth year as the qb at illinois?

Idaho Helga's picture

If Walrusball put up 42 on them we could be looking at triple digits.

GoBucks713's picture

I like the fact that Scheelhasse is doing his best impression of Thad from the previous post.
Also, what's the possibility of El Guapo breaking Eddie's 314 against the same school on Saturday?

-The Aristocrats!

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

Hopefully low. If things go as they should, Hyde may not have a touch in the second half.

GoBucks713's picture

That's what I'm saying. If this team has given up so many plays of over 20 yards, why couldn't 'Los take it to the house every time he touches it Tecmo Bo Jackson style? I
I didn't keep the italics on for that question anyway. My mistake.

-The Aristocrats!

pjtobin's picture

Hyde gets the ball on a sweep. He turns up field. He runs north west then runs north east. He continues to do so until he scores!!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

GrayDay's picture

Next 2 weeks should offer good experience going against teams that, despite sucking on defense, seem to know how to pass.  Has been great to see our defense more stable and attack-oriented past few weeks, but I think the quality of offenses (at least passing) will be significantly tougher this and next week.    The games shouldn't be in doubt, but could be good prep in an area of concern for us when meeting an elite opponent in January. 

gwalther's picture

Scheelhaase appears to be doing "The Matta" in that pic.

Class of 2008

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

"What's the Matta?"
"Nothing, Egghead, what's the Matta with you?"


CALPOPPY's picture

Well done.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

The Buck Guy's picture

I am praying that Meyer has ordered Fick and Withers to attack on defense and not use the dime unless they plan on using consistent corner and safety blitzes. Meyer said today that the defense needs to get after the QB, not just to hurry him, but to hit him -- a lot. I know that the LBs aren't good enough against the pass, but with as poorly as the Illini rush, this defense should be able to attack from the nickel and dime instead of sitting back in soft underneath coverage with just three and four rushing.

~ The Buck Guy
Go Bucks!!!!

GOOMBAY's picture

Lurking concerns with wind notwithstanding, kind of hoping this matchup allows: (1) shocking number of rushing attempts from any/all formations; (2) plenty swing/hitch/edge-space plays that are becoming commonplace; (3) equal number of TE lost in the wash routes; and (4) at least two jaw-dropping play action passes to wide open Brown/Smith. 
You know, the basics. 
*I'd offer thoughts on D, but mega-throw QB at home after several down games is too tough to call.