Keys To The Game: Illinois

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The speed at which the Huskies get on the board, the explosiveness of Illinois's passing game, and a big old spoonful of Bishop Sankey.

Here are three keys to the game for the Huskies to be successful against the Illini:

1. Start fast, play fast: the Huskies need to do a better job of putting points on the board in the first half than they did against Boise State. They need to finish drives in the endzone and not turn the ball over, as the long you let a team like Illinois hang around -- especially away from Husky Stadium -- the more dangerous they become. The Huskies will get their points, but getting them early will be key as that will give the team some confidence that they can indeed play well anywhere, any time. If they can get a couple early scores and maybe a bit of a lead they'll be able to run the Illini defense ragged and the points will come in droves when the Husky weapons overwhelm their under-talented opponents.

2. Keep it in front: The defensive secondary held a noodle armed Joe Southwick from getting anything downfield, but Nathan Scheelhaase is a better passer. The Dawg defense needs to prevent the big play, because Bill Cubit will have his players looking for it. If they can keep the ball in front of them, rally to the short passes, and close up the passing lanes they'll be doing pretty good. It looks like Illinois is going to get their yards; the defense just needs to make sure they don't get them in large chunks.

3. Sankey, Sankey, Sankey. It has come up in the comments that we almost take for granted how much of a stud Bishop Sankey has turned into. It's true, we do, but I think that's a Sunday through Friday thing. On Saturdays, we're all incredibly aware of just how special he is, and what he does for this team. A defense like Illinois's is one that Sankey should be able to tear up and continue his trend of putting up somewhere between 150 and 200 total yards. They need to make sure he's getting the ball early in the game, and then in the middle of the game, and at the end of the game too. He might be the best player on the field, and he's the easiest way for the Huskies to make life easy on the rest of the offense.

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