B1G Spring Football Preview: The Illinois Fighting Illini

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Though the weather may not feel like spring just yet for most of us, on college campuses around the country, teams are gearing up for another riveting college football season. It seems like only yesterday we were witnessing Johnny Manziel hoist the coveted Heisman Trophy in NYC, but in actuality, months have passed, embarrassing photos have surfaced and NFL scouts have found holes in his game. Meanwhile, here at Know It All Football, we are taking an early look at all twelve B1G schools in preparation for the 2013-2014 season. In part 1 of our series, we take a look at The Illinois Fighting Illini.

ILLINOIS

Camp Opens: March 5th

Spring Game: April 12th

It couldn’t have gone much worse for first year head coach Tim Beckman at Illinois in 2012. A 2-10 overall record and 0-8 in the B1G conference left a lot to be desired for the Illinois faithful. If Beckman wants to change Illinois’ fortune, it’s not going to be an easy task. Illinois has only had 7 winning seasons in the last 20 and the recent resurgence of in-state rival Northwestern has made it just that much tougher on Beckman and his staff.

Speaking of staff — while Illinois players are accustomed to coaching changes at a program that seems to flush ‘em out on the reg, the overturn of assistants was particularly high this year. The Illini had five assistant coaches depart in the off-season (four voluntarily). That’s a major overhaul for any program, let alone one who finished dead last in both scoring and total offense. Match that with a team that finished last in scoring defense and 10th in overall defense and you start to get the picture of what Illinois is up against in 2013.

Is there any reason for hope this coming season? I think so, but it’s hard to find on paper. The biggest coaching change came at offensive coordinator. Beckman hired former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit to try and breathe life into a sputtering offense that has to improve up front before it does anything. Oh, they have a new O-line coach too? Well shoot, let’s take a look at D-line; Illinois is always solid there. What’s that? New coach at that spot too? Damn… sad but true, but you get the point…

As you can see, I’m not here to paint sunshine and rainbows for the Illinois football team’s 2013 season, but if the team can stay relatively healthy this spring, that would be a great start. The team experienced an extraordinary amount of injuries last year. Staying healthy through spring practice so all the new faces can get familiar with all the new personnel should allow the team to make a step forward in 2013. The staff is ushering in several junior college transfers that could pay off immediate dividends. While I don’t expect the Illini to compete for much more than the bottom of the Leaders division this coming season, moral victories are an accomplishment for the program at this point.

Up Next: The Indiana Hoosiers

BY RYAN OSBAHR ON MARCH 12, 2013

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About J.P. Scott

Owner and editor of Know It All Football, contributor to AthlonSports.com and GridirionExperts.com. Member of the Football Writers Association of America.

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