Even with QB hurt, defense Illini’s big question

Defense gave up 45 points to Arizona State Saturday
Even with QB hurt, defense  Illini’s big question

Nathan Scheelhaase’s absence at quarterback was a big problem for Illinois.

So was the downright panic of the Illini defense as Arizona State drove down the field en route to a 45-14 win on Saturday.

It isn’t clear yet whether Scheelhaase will return from his ankle injury this Saturday against Charleston Southern. Regardless, defensive tackle Akeem Spence says the defense has to play far better.

From the opening drive, Spence said, Illinois (1-1) was confused — some players mistook dummy play-call signals coming in from the sidelines for the real ones — and on its heels against the high-tempo Sun Devils.

Illinois had one of the top defenses in the country last season — seventh overall — and it was expected to be the team’s anchor again this year. But the Sun Devils (2-0) piled up 510 yards overall, with 318 of them and three touchdowns coming through the air.