Monday, December 20, 2010
Illini gearing up for Baylor's Griffin in bowl
By Adam Rittenberg
As a three-year starting linebacker at Illinois, Martez Wilson has faced all types of quarterbacks.
More than a handful of the signal callers Wilson has tried to harass fall under the umbrella label "dual threat," a phrase often applied to Baylor star quarterback Robert Griffin III. But when asked who reminds him most of Griffin, Wilson doesn't identify an opposing quarterback.
He identifies a teammate.
"He reminds me of Eddie McGee that plays for us," Wilson said. "They're kind of similar, their body types are similar. They're both tall, lanky dudes."
But McGee, a senior who played two years at quarterback before playing mostly receiver the past two years, doesn't have similar stats to Griffin, who ranks seventh nationally in total offense (315.5 ypg).
Griffin boasts 40 career passing touchdowns and 21 on the ground. He had five games with at least 200 passing yards and at least 50 rushing yards this season. While Griffin will look at attack Illinois' secondary, his running ability is what sets the Baylor star apart.
"Instead of being so focused just on pass, you've got to focus and respect his ability to run the ball," Wilson said. "He does a lot of sprint-outs, so we have to do a good job of containing those."
Illinois ranks 29th nationally against the run (131.3 ypg), but the defense slipped during the month of November, as the Illini dropped three of their final four games. The Illini allowed 39.3 points per game in November after allowing just 17.2 points per game in five October contests.
"Swarm to the ball," said Wilson, an All-Big Ten selection who leads Illinois in tackles (105), tackles for loss (10.5) and forced fumbles (3). "Even if one person misses a tackle, it'll be someone else to clean up their work. If we swarm to the ball, play aggressive and hit hard, we'll do a good job to come out as winners."
McGee could provide a big help in practices leading up to the game.
Only one problem: he's not playing Griffin on the scout team.
"It'd be good if the coaches made the decision to put him there," Wilson said. "That'd give us a good a look. They're very similar players."