With the Big Ten season finally about to get going, what are the keys to every team’s defense? What does each team have to work on?
Biggest Key To The Illinois Fighting Illini Defense
Stop the run. Lost a bit in the shocking win over Wisconsin was the job done all day by the Illini D, holding Jonathan Taylor and company to just 156 yards on the ground.
Illinois needed an epic comeback against Michigan State – getting gouged for 275 yards on the ground – and went 1-4 on the season when allowing 200 rushing yards ore more. Since beating Rutgers in the middle of the 2016 season, Illinois is 1-22 when giving up two bills.
Fortunately, Nebraska is the only team on the first half of the slate that has any semblance of a ground game.
Biggest Key To The Indiana Hoosiers Defense
More big plays would be nice. Helped by an offense that kept the chains moving and stayed on the field, the defense was able to do just enough to stay in most games. There’s enough experience returning, though, to start turning games around.
The pass rush was okay, but hardly anything special, especially in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers failed to generate more than one sack in five of the last nine games, and 14 of the 27 sacks overall came against Ball State, Eastern Illinois, UConn and Rutgers.
Partly because of the lack of steady pressure, the interceptions didn’t come with just seven on the season and three in the first nine games.