Mental Mistakes Crush Illini Upset Bid

Illini head coach Lovie Smith admonishes Ke'Shawn Vaughn after the latter's personal foul.

Illini head coach Lovie Smith admonishes Ke'Shawn Vaughn after the latter's personal foul Saturday night in Champaign (Vashoune Russell)

Vashoune Russell for Illinois Public Media

The one-and-one Illinois football team is looking ahead to this Saturday’s game with Western Michigan, as it tries to shake off Saturday’s 48 to 23 loss to North Carolina.  

The loss was marked by thirteen Illini penalties, six fumbles and myriad dropped passes and missed assignments. Illinois first year head coach Lovie Smith described the team’s performance as “not ready for prime time”.

It began well. Running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn's 65-yard touchdown run, on the third play from scrimmage, ignited the team and a sellout crowd who came to see them.  But as the game rolled on, Vaughn fell prey to the same mental mistakes that plagued the team all evening, including a devastating personal foul for striking an opponent on the Tar Heels sideline.

“Personally, I was frustrated,” said Vaughn. “It was really a selfish move by myself. Penalties beat us this game. We gotta correct it next week. There’s a lot of football left to play. I have to get control of myself.”

Coach Smith agreed that penalties propelled North Carolina to victory.

“Penalties really hurt us,” said Smith. “I mean, we’re a more disciplined football team than that. And it seemed like every one really gave them (the Tar Heels) momentum.”

Both teams are now 1-and-1 on the season. The Illini will now set their sights on the Broncos of Western Michigan. The Broncos are coming off a game against another North Carolina team --- only Western Michigan was the victor, 70 to 21 over North Carolina Central.

Kickoff for the Illinois-Western Michigan game is set for 3 PM Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Story source: WILL