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Illini look to control big plays, end losing skids

Associated Press Modified: November 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: November 19, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — It's tough to narrow the list of problems plaguing Illinois to just one ahead of Saturday's matchup with Northwestern.

Big plays jump to the front of the line.

Coach Tim Beckman said Monday that Illinois (2-9, 0-7 Big Ten) was undone by big plays in last week's 20-17 loss to Purdue. The worst were a run and a pass that each covered 63 yards. One ended in a touchdown and the other set one up.

Beckman's defense now faces a Northwestern team (8-3, 4-3) that lives by big plays. Beckman said Illinois will have to pursue the ball and make open-field tackles to control the Wildcats.

But the Illini will have to do it without linebacker Jonathan Brown, the team's leading tackler before suffering a shoulder injury last month. Now Beckman says Brown is done for the season.