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Opponent Player Watch: Illinois Wide Receiver Malik Turner

Watchout for this receiver

NCAA Football: Illinois at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Turner is the best offensive option for the Fighting Illini. He is a big wide receiver standing at 6’3 and weighs 200lbs. Turner was highly regarded during the preseason and was named All-B1G Team due to his play making and big play potential. His season statistically hasn’t reflected his full potential, having only accumulated 17 catches for 167 receiving yards. However, he can still be a true threat towards the Rutgers’ defense with the strong armed Jeff George Jr now at quarterback. Last season, Turner had 48 catches for 712 yards and 6 touchdowns.

The Scarlet Knights have been battling injuries all season and lost their best defensive player junior cornerback Blessaun Austin to season ending ACL injury. To compensate the loss of Austin, head coach Chris Ash moved wide receiver Jawuan Harris into the secondary. It will be an interesting, but it’s a necessary move due to the fact the secondary is depleted. Rutgers’ defense is lacking in depth, but Malik Turner will not care. He will try to exploit the mismatches and could have a breakout game if the Scarlet Knights aren’t prepared for it.

How to Stop Malik Turner

Rutgers must keep their offense on the field as long as possible. They need to play keep away to limit the possessions on offense. The defense needs time to get rest on the sidelines and give them a chance to gel without Blessaun Austin. Rutgers’ offense is ranked 122nd and the Rutgers’ defense is ranked 51st according to CBSSPORTS.com. The defense has improved tremendously, but the offense remains stagnant. A potential quarterback change and the return of Janarion Grant will hopefully help. In order to win this game and stop Malik Turner, they must win the time of possession battle. The defense can only do so much, but being aware of Turner at all times is a must. It's time for the offense to step their game up. The next question will be, who will lead the Scarlet Knights to victory?

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports