Illini Football 2019

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We beat up Minnesota last year. Even through all the Brohm hype lets not forget Purdue went 6-7 last year. Even through alll the Nebraska hype this year, they went 0-5 away from home last year and they come to us. Wisconsin and Northwestern will be no better than they were last year. I'm not saying we are big 10 champs, just that there is definitely a path to 6 wins.

We return what.. 16 starters? Add Peters, Eifler, USC transfers, OL transfer from Bama. I just refuse to see how we regress as a team. Experience is so important in CFB I just don't see us not improving.
 
For those that follow pretty closely, but not exactly Dan/Robert closely, this article does a good job orienting you to the strengths and weaknesses of the 2019 squad. It's only an internal comparison (i.e., tight end is the weakest position for Illinois compared to other Illinois positions, and running back is the strongest position for Illinois compared to other Illinois positions, but it doesn't seek to compare those positions to other programs), but that's still helpful. As Robert recently pointed out, this team needs to accomplish that elusive and intangible "click" this year. If it doesn't, stacking up this team against your average Big Ten team is still going to be a sad exercise, I think.

Illinois needs a lot of players in their third or fourth year with the program to really step up and be better than most anticipate. Not because it's some miracle year...just because strength/conditioning/experience makes such a difference for a program like Illinois and it can't exactly be anticipated with respect to specific players. Hopefully it is being accurately anticipated with respect to the program generally by people who follow it closely.
 
I watched a bit of film on Peters and it wasn't as bad as I thought it was gonna be. His mechanics aren't great and consequently his release is more slow and low than you'd hope for such a statuesque guy, but he seems to keep his eyes downfield and make quick decisions, and he throws a really catchable ball. He seems capable of taking what's there.

The question in a Rod Smith context of course is his mobility, and while he's definitely fluid enough to roll out and move around in the pocket, he'll be no threat at all on a QB keeper and won't keep anyone honest on the zone read. So it's a weird fit in that way. No one wants to hear it at this point, but what's good is that with two years to play, he potentially presents the next coach/OC with a senior pocket passer who's here on day 1 and knows his teammates as an option, so we won't get stuck in that position again where we're waiting years before a system can actually get implemented.
I think this is a common misconception that a QB has to be fast to run a zone read. Running an effective zone read has more to do with being successful in zone runs (inside and outside). I saw a bunch of times last year that we ran a "zone read" and paired it with a weakside bubble (another wrinkle of everyones favorite acronym, RPO). Look at what the Chiefs are doing with Mahomes. He isn't a great runner, but they are working out of a spread using a TON of zone run concepts paired with RPOs (so much that ESPN does a 1 hour segment every Monday/Tuesday during last season). The game is adjusting away from QB runs because no Coach wants there QB to take any unnecessary hits.
 
I think this is a common misconception that a QB has to be fast to run a zone read. Running an effective zone read has more to do with being successful in zone runs (inside and outside). I saw a bunch of times last year that we ran a "zone read" and paired it with a weakside bubble (another wrinkle of everyones favorite acronym, RPO). Look at what the Chiefs are doing with Mahomes. He isn't a great runner, but they are working out of a spread using a TON of zone run concepts paired with RPOs (so much that ESPN does a 1 hour segment every Monday/Tuesday during last season). The game is adjusting away from QB runs because no Coach wants there QB to take any unnecessary hits.
Agreed, and I'm not sure anyone would say that Nick Foles is a running QB, but he seemed to do OK in the Super Bowl running RPO's against the Patriots . . . .

FWIW - 0 rushes for 0 yards in that game.
 
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Agreed, and I'm not sure anyone would say that Nick Foles is a running QB, but he seemed to do OK in the Super Bowl running RPO's against the Patriots . . . .

FWIW - 0 rushes for 0 yards in that game.
Or you can go way back to the Pro Bowl year under Chip Kelly/Eagles. He had more rushing touchdowns (4) than the rest of his career combined. Not saying that this is something amazing. The traditional zone read is outdated. There are many concepts off the zone read. I would imagine the offense would love to play a team that didn't consider the QB a running threat on Zone Read/ RPO concepts.
 
Agreed, and I'm not sure anyone would say that Nick Foles is a running QB, but he seemed to do OK in the Super Bowl running RPO's against the Patriots . . . .
RPO's =/= zone reads, in fact, the RPO is designed exactly to solve the previous poster's problem, how do you isolate a defender into a readable choice situation without making one of the choices a free hit on the QB? A situation much more pressing in the NFL than college, where the defenders are bigger and faster and can deliver more punishing hits and the QB's are generally more specialized as pro-style passers and thus more vulnerable to negative outcomes from taking those hits, plus they're more financially valuable.

Maybe Rod Smith can work up some RPO stuff with Peters. I don't love his delivery for that, but you could figure it out. Still, the blocking schemes are a little different, it requires a level of talent and experience in your receivers that we might not have, it's not as easy as snapping your fingers.

When AJ Bush was making good give/pull decisions on zone reads with a healthy Reggie Corbin last year, we were genuinely quite devastating offensively, especially when AJ presented some modicum of a passing threat. When MJ Rivers came in, we had some moments (including in some RPO concepts), but we weren't *that*. He had a few zone reads where he made intelligent pulls and found himself in acres of space but ended up with 4 yard gains or less because he's just not that kind of athlete.

Peters is a fine athlete, but he's a Rivers, he's not a Bush. Isaiah Williams might be better than Bush as an option trigger man, and he couldn't be worse as a passer than Bush was on his bad days. That path forward makes more sense to me based on what worked for Rod Smith last year.
 
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To put it another way, football is football, you COULD do all sorts of things with Peters.

But what SHOULD you do? What takes greatest advantage of his skill set? It's obvious on film why this kid committed to play for Harbaugh, and why Harbaugh went after him. He looks most natural dropping back, surveying the field, finding a good match up in man coverage and putting a touch throw in there.

That's not the RichRod ball that Rod Smith knows. Doesn't mean it can't work. But either Rod Smith, Brandon Peters, or likely both is going to have to step out of their comfort zone to make it work.

Or we could just throw our spitting images of Pat White and Steve Slaton out there to go scoot around and make people miss. That depends on IW being a competent thrower and decision maker as a young, raw, kid, and if he's not those things then it's not a possibility. But if that option is on the table, it seems a heck of a lot more likely to lead to success, IMO.
 
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To put it another way, football is football, you COULD do all sorts of things with Peters.

But what SHOULD you do? What takes greatest advantage of his skill set? It's obvious on film why this kid committed to play for Harbaugh, and why Harbaugh went after him. He looks most natural dropping back, surveying the field, finding a good match up in man coverage and putting a touch throw in there.

That's not the RichRod ball that Rod Smith knows. Doesn't mean it can't work. But either Rod Smith, Brandon Peters, or likely both is going to have to step out of their comfort zone to make it work.

Or we could just throw our spitting images of Pat White and Steve Slaton out there to go scoot around and make people miss. That depends on IW being a competent thrower and decision maker as a young, raw, kid, and if he's not those things then it's not a possibility. But if that option is on the table, it seems a heck of a lot more likely to lead to success, IMO.
I don't want to make this a Harbaugh board, but it was really weird to see Harbaugh have a specific type of QB in the Pros (Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick) and then recruits primary PRO style QBs. The optimist in me hopes that Peters is a "sneaky" athlete. Peters won't run the zone read any where close to Bush, but I know for a fact he has a better arm. Maybe with a QB that is a better passer we can get our offense in better position to run the ball. But I honestly have no idea what is going to happen. I feel confident that Rod Smith is adaptive and I will remain relatively optimistic on the season. What is the biggest question mark on this season: QB play or the Defense?
 
I don't want to make this a Harbaugh board, but it was really weird to see Harbaugh have a specific type of QB in the Pros (Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick) and then recruits primary PRO style QBs. The optimist in me hopes that Peters is a "sneaky" athlete. Peters won't run the zone read any where close to Bush, but I know for a fact he has a better arm. Maybe with a QB that is a better passer we can get our offense in better position to run the ball. But I honestly have no idea what is going to happen. I feel confident that Rod Smith is adaptive and I will remain relatively optimistic on the season. What is the biggest question mark on this season: QB play or the Defense?
The biggest question mark will be health on offense and lb on defense. Rod is great at getting qbs to reach potential. I trust we will be fine with our QBs and receivers.
 
I don't want to make this a Harbaugh board, but it was really weird to see Harbaugh have a specific type of QB in the Pros (Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick) and then recruits primary PRO style QBs. The optimist in me hopes that Peters is a "sneaky" athlete. Peters won't run the zone read any where close to Bush, but I know for a fact he has a better arm. Maybe with a QB that is a better passer we can get our offense in better position to run the ball. But I honestly have no idea what is going to happen. I feel confident that Rod Smith is adaptive and I will remain relatively optimistic on the season. What is the biggest question mark on this season: QB play or the Defense?
I think this has not been discussed enough really. Our running game, albeit with a running QB, was outstanding last year with little to no threat of the throw. I am interested in seeing what we can look like with a defense that cant stack the box
 
Iowa City
I think @ChiefGritty s analysis on Peters is spot on. And I am honestly a little confused on why he landed with us. Esp. with 2 years left to play. If it was a 1-year bridge to make work to get to IW, I could see that. I wouldn't be surprised if Peters moved on again after this year.
 
I think @ChiefGritty s analysis on Peters is spot on. And I am honestly a little confused on why he landed with us. Esp. with 2 years left to play. If it was a 1-year bridge to make work to get to IW, I could see that. I wouldn't be surprised if Peters moved on again after this year.
Do we know for a fact that IW will be ready as a redshirt Freshman? Depth is never a bad thing. Rushing an 18-19 year old into the most import position on the field and you can easily make an argument as the most important player in current program history isn't a great idea. If the staff thinks IW is ready they will play him over Peters, I think Peters is protection to IW. As a fan base, we need to have patience with QBs. I know that we have waited a long time to be a good team, but no reason to risk the development of a potential program changing player just to get him on the field. When IW is ready, he will play and if that is this year or next year. If that day comes we will have a backup with Big Ten experience. Even if he doesn't completely fit the system, Peters is a significant upgrade to our current "backup" situation.
 
Honestly wouldn't touch that 3 win over/under with a ten foot pole.

We've got a lot of experience now but, on paper, we still have a roster at or near the bottom of the BIG talent-wise.

We have the potential to take a giant leap forward, as Robert discussed in his "Click" post, but at this point its either going to click or it won't. Unfortunately, at this point I think the evidence (63-0, historically bad defense, no established quarterback, poor O-line depth, etc) points to it won't.

And if it won't the wheels are likely to come off.

Hope I'm wrong!
 
Honestly wouldn't touch that 3 win over/under with a ten foot pole.

We've got a lot of experience now but, on paper, we still have a roster at or near the bottom of the BIG talent-wise.

We have the potential to take a giant leap forward, as Robert discussed in his "Click" post, but at this point its either going to click or it won't. Unfortunately, at this point I think the evidence (63-0, historically bad defense, no established quarterback, poor O-line depth, etc) points to it won't.

And if it won't the wheels are likely to come off.

Hope I'm wrong!
I disagree. I think 4 wins is very doable. This is based on probability of upsets. I think we will likely get at least 1 upset. I am still
Hanging on 2 upsets.

I don’t disagree that with a handful Of injuries we are looking at 2-3 wins
 
Do we know for a fact that IW will be ready as a redshirt Freshman?
We do not. I'm fine with the addition of depth, I just don't think the Peters-Rod Smith combo should be our go-to choice if there are other good options.

Betting odds coming out for Illinois' win total. The line is set at 3 wins. Break out your checkbooks Loyalty...
That's genuinely shocking to me. And the under is -162.

I'd have put our o/u at like 4.5

If we go 3-9 against this schedule, Whitman has a no-brainer of a decision.
 
I think this has not been discussed enough really. Our running game, albeit with a running QB, was outstanding last year with little to no threat of the throw. I am interested in seeing what we can look like with a defense that cant stack the box
This. We're going to have speed with depth, too. This year and (especially) next, we're going to be able to spread enough speed around the field to wear down a lot of defensive starters. That might let us win more 4th quarters and more games.

Take the over!
 
3 wins is basically saying we will lose a non-con game or Rutgers at home. I honestly think we will win these 4 games. The rest of the schedules ranges from much more difficult to impossible.
 
3 wins is basically saying we will lose a non-con game or Rutgers at home. I honestly think we will win these 4 games. The rest of the schedules ranges from much more difficult to impossible.
It looks like FanDuel doesn't like Illinois' chances against Eastern Michigan. Here are the O/U for all of Illinois' opponents:

Akron (3.5)
UConn (2.5)
Eastern Michigan (6.5)
Nebraska (8.5)
Minnesota (6.5)
Michigan (9.5)
Wisconsin (8.5)
Purdue (8)
Rutgers (N/A)
Michigan State (7.5)
Iowa (7.5)
Northwestern (6.5)
 
Actual odds on Fanduel are +154 Under 3 and -184 over 3 as of now
That makes more sense. Who would bet under 3? That's gotta move to 3.5 at some point.

Anyway, we must of course take this as a very sober indication on what the neutral experts see in this team.

It looks like FanDuel doesn't like Illinois' chances against Eastern Michigan. Here are the O/U for all of Illinois' opponents:

Akron (3.5)
UConn (2.5)
Eastern Michigan (6.5)
Nebraska (8.5)
Minnesota (6.5)
Michigan (9.5)
Wisconsin (8.5)
Purdue (8)
Rutgers (N/A)
Michigan State (7.5)
Iowa (7.5)
Northwestern (6.5)
EMU is an improved program, but they lose a ton from last year.

The Rutgers N/A is pretty consequential here.
 
Do we know for a fact that IW will be ready as a redshirt Freshman? Depth is never a bad thing. Rushing an 18-19 year old into the most import position on the field and you can easily make an argument as the most important player in current program history isn't a great idea. If the staff thinks IW is ready they will play him over Peters, I think Peters is protection to IW. As a fan base, we need to have patience with QBs. I know that we have waited a long time to be a good team, but no reason to risk the development of a potential program changing player just to get him on the field. When IW is ready, he will play and if that is this year or next year. If that day comes we will have a backup with Big Ten experience. Even if he doesn't completely fit the system, Peters is a significant upgrade to our current "backup" situation.
I think the plan is to play him for the four games allowed to get experience then redshirt him.
 
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