LAFAYETTE, Colo.- Illinois is starting the season off right. The Illini put up a good fight resulting in a shutout victory of 45-0 against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Illinois was predicted to only go up from last season and that there would be a lot of positive changes made to the team. Illinois has really shown that to be true. There were not only positive comments about the game from Illinois stand-in coach, Brian Nicolls, but also Iowa head coach, Jim Estes.
Coach Estes commented saying that Iowa wasn’t “prepared for Illinois’ outstanding defensive line…but we are working on a few things at practice this week.”
While Iowa was not prepared for the tough defense of Illinois, both Brian Nicolls and Illinois club president, Richard Daniels, praised their forwards for keeping the line tight and strong. Having a strong defense in rugby is key, and Illinois proves season after season to hold that key.
Daniels is “most proud of the fact that they came together on defense and rallied even when Iowa was deep in their territory, and thus kept Iowa from scoring all game.”
The combined strength of Illinois’ forwards with the speed of its backs could prove to be an advantage for the fighting Illini.
While Iowa did suffer in this defeat, that does not mark the end of its chance for success in the Big Ten. Iowa was simply not prepared for the level of growth and commitment that Illinois has seen since last fall season.
Estes stands by his belief that he has “a very good team this year and that they will do good in the Big Ten conference.”
As long as the Hawkeyes can practice and correct upon a few mishaps, anything is possible. With that being said, the Illini still have some things to practice on if it wants to make it to the top, as well.
Nicolls biggest concern for the team is “limiting the number of times the ball is turned over. We were fortunate against Iowa to be able to limit the damage they did off of turnovers, but that probably won’t be the case in all the games we play. To go along with that, our forwards need to work on securing more of our own lineout.”
Both teams could have great seasons and nothing but the best is expected from their respective coaches; however, they have a long road to the playoffs starting this Saturday. Illinois will be away facing fifth-ranked Indiana at 1:00 p.m. CDT. Meanwhile, Iowa will host the University of Michigan.