Looking ahead to 2018

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#1
Lovie Smith undeterred from long-term plan at Illinois despite Year 2 struggle

“You can be a fan and say: ‘Look at us. We have two wins. We stink.’ Or you can look a little closer to see what we’re doing and what we’re building. It takes a little more. I think fans are more educated to the process. I hope they are. We’re doing it the right way. Ultimately we’re going to win, hopefully sooner than later.”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sport...ll-lovie-smith-rebuilding-20171201-story.html


2018 Illinois Football Schedule
Sat, Sep 01___Kent State
Sat, Sep 08___Western Illinois
Sat, Sep 15___USF (Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
Fri, Sep 21___Penn State
Sat, Sep 29___--bye--
Sat, Oct 06___@Rutgers
Sat, Oct 13___Purdue (Homecoming)
Sat, Oct 20___@Wisconsin
Sat, Oct 27___@Maryland
Sat, Nov 03___Minnesota
Sat, Nov 10___@Nebraska
Sat, Nov 17___Iowa
Sat, Nov 24___@Northwestern

 
#2
I think next year there needs to be some visible progress and it can't all be "believe in the process." All I'm asking for is four wins with at least two conference wins. Kent State and Western should be gimmies.
 
#3
We beat Kent State, Western Illinois, and.....

I see 4 wins max. @ Rutgers and Purdue at home are the kinds of games we need to win to demonstrate progress. Beating the likes of Minnesota should also be on the table, but probably not expected.

2-10 or 3-9 would be a total bust of a season. But very possible.
 
#4
Another 2-10 or 3-9 season would be a difficult pill to swallow and wouldn't give me much hope for 6-6 or 7-5 until 2020. I'll admit I'm getting impatient, but 6-6 or 7-5 isn't going to put the wind back in my sails, and I'm on the die-hard side of the spectrum. If we're not going 8-4 by 2020, I'm not sure I can sustain interest in Illini Football until the wins are regularly happening.

The only games we should be writing off are USF, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Northwestern. I'm not saying we're going to win the other games, but if we continue to lose to Rutgers, Purdue, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, or Iowa by double digits (10+), I don't know how we can sell this program to recruits. Iowa has had some recent success and Nebraska has some history, but these are all currently mediocre programs. We need to walk away from at least two B1G games with a W next year.
 
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#5
CU Expat
Chicago
I just don't see the QB play needed to win more than 4 or 5 games next year. Honestly, getting to 5 wins would be a big accomplishment given the youth and lack of depth on next year's team. I think 0-6 to end the season is a distinct possibility, and those long losing streaks to end seasons are such program momentum killers.
 
#6
We beat Kent State, Western Illinois, and.....

I see 4 wins max. @ Rutgers and Purdue at home are the kinds of games we need to win to demonstrate progress. Beating the likes of Minnesota should also be on the table, but probably not expected.

2-10 or 3-9 would be a total bust of a season. But very possible.
I don't think 2-10 or 3-9 would be a bust. We are going to have a bunch of underclassman play next year and probably Cam Thomas as QB. People don't realize how hard it is to win a football game when your OL and DL are undersized. We are going to have 17,18, and 19 year olds on the line versus 21 and 22 year olds...that is a big gap to overcome especially with a young QB. Rutgers and Purdue will be tough but not guarantee wins. People need to temper their expectations for 2018 and hope for the best in 2019 and 2020.
 
#7
I think theres a chance we could surprise a team or two next year, but that probably means a 4 win season at best.

Talent at the WR, TE, and RB is solid. OL and DL are a year older and hopefully at least partially improved. LB is a serious concern, but I like our secondary. Special Teams should be a strength.

Wild card is again, sadly, QB. If JGJ or Cam can't step up, please lets give one of the new freshman a go. I think a short leash for the returning QB's is necessary if we want to win more than 2 games next year.
 
#9
Naperville
I'd rather reflect than predict since I'm so bad at making predictions. However, I would expect 2-4 wins next season. I expected 0 wins heading into 2013 after how awful that 2012 offense was and the losses we had on the defensive side of the ball, however.

Hopefully they close strong with this class and maybe there are some grad transfers in the mix. I have a hard time seeing major improvements at QB and OL which could really hold us back.
 
#10
I'd rather reflect than predict since I'm so bad at making predictions. However, I would expect 2-4 wins next season. I expected 0 wins heading into 2013 after how awful that 2012 offense was and the losses we had on the defensive side of the ball, however.

Hopefully they close strong with this class and maybe there are some grad transfers in the mix. I have a hard time seeing major improvements at QB and OL which could really hold us back.
I think the OL should improve a great deal, they have from now till the first game to really build there bodies, and learn everything they need to.( I also would not be shocked to see one or 2 of the FR playing) QB is a tough one though, If they can find a guy who can be here for spring and is worth getting I am all for it. by the time Spring ball starts this staff has to know who they are starting at QB no matter if it s Cam one of the 2 incoming FR or someone yet to be on the roster, and just stick with them
 
#11
I don't think 2-10 or 3-9 would be a bust. We are going to have a bunch of underclassman play next year and probably Cam Thomas as QB. People don't realize how hard it is to win a football game when your OL and DL are undersized. We are going to have 17,18, and 19 year olds on the line versus 21 and 22 year olds...that is a big gap to overcome especially with a young QB. Rutgers and Purdue will be tough but not guarantee wins. People need to temper their expectations for 2018 and hope for the best in 2019 and 2020.

If you would have told me when Lovie Smith was hired that we'd be going 2-10 or 3-9 in his third year -- and that would qualify as something other than a bust -- I'd laugh at you.

Yes, I completely understand the challenge. He inherited a steaming pile, and it's tough to win when you're playing mostly freshmen. But the upside of playing a ton of young guys this year is that we return a huge amount of our roster for next season -- we're going to have a lot of returning starters, and the growth from freshman year to sophomore year can be significant. So while we'll be young, we'll have a good deal of experience. And we'll have some really good players at key positions -- particularly on offense.

But at some point, you have to win and show progress. Another 2-win season shows no progress. Why, then, should we be optimistic going into 2019? Does 2019 become a 4-win season? Maybe 6 wins by 2020? 5 years to become eligible for a minor bowl isn't the growth rate we had expected when Lovie was hired.
 
#13
2018 Illinois Football Schedule
Sat, Sep 01___Kent State W
Sat, Sep 08___Western Illinois W
Sat, Sep 15___USF (Soldier Field, Chicago, IL) L
Fri, Sep 21___Penn State L
Sat, Sep 29___--bye--
Sat, Oct 06___@Rutgers W
Sat, Oct 13___Purdue (Homecoming) W
Sat, Oct 20___@Wisconsin L
Sat, Oct 27___@Maryland L
Sat, Nov 03___Minnesota W
Sat, Nov 10___@Nebraska L
Sat, Nov 17___Iowa L
Sat, Nov 24___@Northwestern L

5-7 Bowling!
 
#14
2018 Illinois Football Schedule
Sat, Sep 01___Kent State W
Sat, Sep 08___Western Illinois W
Sat, Sep 15___USF (Soldier Field, Chicago, IL) L
Fri, Sep 21___Penn State L
Sat, Sep 29___--bye--
Sat, Oct 06___@Rutgers W
Sat, Oct 13___Purdue (Homecoming) W
Sat, Oct 20___@Wisconsin L
Sat, Oct 27___@Maryland L
Sat, Nov 03___Minnesota W
Sat, Nov 10___@Nebraska L
Sat, Nov 17___Iowa L
Sat, Nov 24___@Northwestern L

5-7 Bowling!
Strangely, I think this is about as optimistic that I could possibly see, and I am generally an optimist! I think 3 wins is more likely. Give me 8 months, and I will be back to 6 wins, somehow. And it will make perfect sense to me at the time.
 
#15
But the upside of playing a ton of young guys this year is that we return a huge amount of our roster for next season -- we're going to have a lot of returning starters, and the growth from freshman year to sophomore year can be significant. So while we'll be young, we'll have a good deal of experience. And we'll have some really good players at key positions -- particularly on offense.
You have a great point here. We have a ton of returning starters and plenty of experience, plus another year of being coached up. That alone should mean significant and marked improvement. Unfortunately, I think our hopes will be limited by an 18 year old QB. I may be in the minority here, but I was not that impressed by Cam Thomas...yes, his running ability showed great potential, but his passing was awful.
 
#16
2018 Illinois Football Schedule
Sat, Sep 01___Kent State W
Sat, Sep 08___Western Illinois W
Sat, Sep 15___USF (Soldier Field, Chicago, IL) L
Fri, Sep 21___Penn State L
Sat, Sep 29___--bye--
Sat, Oct 06___@Rutgers W
Sat, Oct 13___Purdue (Homecoming) W
Sat, Oct 20___@Wisconsin L
Sat, Oct 27___@Maryland L
Sat, Nov 03___Minnesota W
Sat, Nov 10___@Nebraska L
Sat, Nov 17___Iowa L
Sat, Nov 24___@Northwestern L

5-7 Bowling!
that is my guess as well then figure plus or minus 1 or 2 either way
 
#17
You have a great point here. We have a ton of returning starters and plenty of experience, plus another year of being coached up. That alone should mean significant and marked improvement. Unfortunately, I think our hopes will be limited by an 18 year old QB. I may be in the minority here, but I was not that impressed by Cam Thomas...yes, his running ability showed great potential, but his passing was awful.

Yeah.....even despite that returning experience, I think next year is going to be rough because of the QB position. I would expect natural improvement, but the next step up from "horrendous" is still "bad". We would need enormous improvement from Cam Thomas, or get better-than-expected production from a true freshman. Neither of those are likely.
 
#18
It's way too early to be making predictions for next year. But, I bet we'll all be giving better consideration to the reports about the quarterback play in camp next August. While I did predict a 2-10 record, I chose to ignore the reports of the lack of accuracy by all of the QBs. I thought with Cubit being so high on Crouch as a recruit, he would have a more than competent arm.

For all the "Chicago media hates us" people out there, I thought the article was pretty favorable to the Illini.
 
#19
San Francisco
I think theres a chance we could surprise a team or two next year, but that probably means a 4 win season at best.

Talent at the WR, TE, and RB is solid. OL and DL are a year older and hopefully at least partially improved. LB is a serious concern, but I like our secondary. Special Teams should be a strength.

Wild card is again, sadly, QB. If JGJ or Cam can't step up, please lets give one of the new freshman a go. I think a short leash for the returning QB's is necessary if we want to win more than 2 games next year.
Unfortunately, I think you're right. I'd set the over/under at 3 wins.

It's going to be another year of evaluating the young talent and hoping to see fewer mistakes, smarter play, and more competitive games.
 
#20
It's way too early to be making predictions for next year. But, I bet we'll all be giving better consideration to the reports about the quarterback play in camp next August. While I did predict a 2-10 record, I chose to ignore the reports of the lack of accuracy by all of the QBs. I thought with Cubit being so high on Crouch as a recruit, he would have a more than competent arm.

For all the "Chicago media hates us" people out there, I thought the article was pretty favorable to the Illini.
Agreed.
 
#25
Any reasonable, unbiased observer would predict two wins next year.
It's too early to reasonably predict anything for next year. We don't yet know who all the departures and arrivals are. In addition these younger guys will improve before next year, but how much is the question. If we get hit with numerous injuries again 2-10 may be reasonable, but no one can know right now what we look like on September 1, 2018
 
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