Return to Glory

Return to Glory

Friday, July 6, 2012

Realistic Expectations for Illinois

Sept. 1: Western Michigan LOSS
Sept. 8: @ Arizona St. LOSS
Sept. 15: Charleston Southern WIN
Sept. 22: Louisiana Tech WIN
Sept. 29: Penn St. LOSS
Oct. 6: @Wisconsin LOSS
Oct. 13: @Michigan LOSS
Oct. 27: Indiana (homecoming) WIN
Nov. 3: @Ohio St. LOSS
Nov. 10: Minnesota LOSS
Nov. 17: Purdue LOSS
Nov. 23: @ Northwestern LOSS

3-9 Overall Record
1-7 Big Ten Record

A promising early 2011 campaign came to an ugly end. After starting 6-0 the Illini staggered to a 1-6 finish, which cost Ron Zook his job. As a result, Illinois enters 2012 with significant coaching changes. Illinois has turned to Toledo's head coach, Tim Beckman, to lead the Illinois program. Illinois returns 7 starters on offense and defense. However, key offensive players running back Jason Ford, 1st round draft pick wide receiver AJ Jenkins and 2nd round pick offensive tackle Jeff Allen have all departed. On defense, the Illini lose big time playmaker Whitney Mercilus and his 16 sacks to the NFL. The Illini face one of the most daunting stretches of any Big Ten team this fall with 3 consecutive games with Penn St. and then on the road at Wisconsin and Michigan. as a result the Illini will be 0-3 in the conference before they even get their season started. The Illini's bye week is wasted on pitiful Indiana and then it is back on the road at Ohio St. The Illini's best chance for Big Ten wins are all stacked at the end of the season with consecutive weeks against Minnesota, Purdue and at Northwestern. However, by that time this will be a lost season for the Illini and I would expect to see coach Beckman shift the focus to 2013. The bottom line is coaching changes are always a challenge and Illinois's 2011 record of 7-6 is deceiving. They racked up wins against Arkansas St., South Dakota St, Arizona St., Western Michigan, Northwestern and at Indiana. 5 of those wins were at home. The three quality opponents (Arizona St., Western Michigan and Northwestern) were all played at home and each game was won by exactly 3 points. This year Arizona St. and Northwestern will be played on the road.

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