Looking ahead to 2019

#1
Tyngsborough, MA
Aug. 31____Akron
Sept. 7____at UConn
Sept. 14___Eastern Michigan
Sept. 21___Nebraska
Sept. 28___BYE
Oct. 5_____at Minnesota
Oct. 12____Michigan
Oct. 19____Wisconsin (Homecoming)
Oct. 26____at Purdue
Nov. 2_____Rutgers (Dads Day)
Nov. 9_____at Michigan State
Nov. 16____BYE
Nov. 23____at Iowa
Nov. 30____Northwestern




Is there hope for next year? Dunno. I 'd like to think so, but...
 
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#4
Where do you find 6 wins on that schedule?
Oh it's pretty darned easy.

UConn is the worst team in D1. Akron is a bad MAC team. EMU is a decent MAC team and could be a banana peel, but should be a win at home.

Rutgers at home is a win. Purdue loses a ton even if they keep Brohm. Minnesota is kinda running in place. Northwestern and Wisconsin at home are both opportunities. I think Nebraska will explode into the national elite next year, but I could be wrong. Sparty seems to be running on fumes.

If we're any good at all we're a bowl team easily. A year we've been building to for three years when we'll have more experience than just about anyone we'll play. The bar is laughably low, and if we don't reach it the decision will be a very clear cut one.
 
#7
Off Season Priorities:

1. Retain Rod Smith
2. Hire a good DC
3. Maintain most of the 2 Deep. Don't need a bunch of attrition and youth movement in 2019
4. Hire another coordinator who is a solid recruiter
5. Finish strong recruiting
6. If it's not too much to ask, convince Jeff Thomas to play his last year here before he's off to NFL
 
#8
Captain 'Paign
Phoenix, AZ
Off Season Priorities:

1. Retain Rod Smith
2. Hire a good DC
3. Maintain most of the 2 Deep. Don't need a bunch of attrition and youth movement in 2019
4. Hire another coordinator who is a solid recruiter
5. Finish strong recruiting
6. If it's not too much to ask, convince Jeff Thomas to play his last year here before he's off to NFL
7. Convince Khalil Tate to come be our QB under Rod again.
 
#10
I'm expecting the biggest jump from our d-line, the core of which are mostly sophs. All that live-game experience over the last two seasons, plus another year/offseason to add strength and physical/mental maturity, should mean we start winning a lot more battles in the trenches.
 
#14
Next season I'd like to see: 1) more fundamentally-sound play; 2) less penalties; 3) fewer instances of players out of position and seemingly unaware of their assignment; 4) better special-teams play (and I don't mean the punter or kicker; they were both excellent); 5) receivers who can reliably catch the ball; 6) better tackling technique; and 6) more instances of guys who can be fairly described as "savvy" players who make good decisions.
It's time. The Fighting Illini won't be the youngest team in the country anymore. Let's play that way.
 
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#15
It is nearly impossible to forecast wins this far out but only Michigan looks out of the question. If we even have modest improvement on D and the Offense continues to grow, there isn't a game I would put out of reach on paper aside from maybe Michigan.

We should physically finally be able to hold our own with Wisky, Iowa and Northwestern
 
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#16
San Bernardino, Ca.
A lot can and will happen between now and next season. Hopefully, we retain the bulk of the roster from this year. Obviously, we need help in the d line and at wr. I'm not a fan of juco's but would consider some help at both positions.
We need an experienced college dc. Hopefully, now that Lovie has his extension, we can get a defensive Rod Smith.

BTW, please give Rod a huge raise.....

Bottom line, I think the floor is 4-8 and ceiling is 8-4.
 
#18
First quarter: 3 wins
Aug. 31____Akron W
Sept. 7____at UConn W
Sept. 14___Eastern Michigan W


Second Quarter: 1-2 wins
Sept. 21___Nebraska Toss-up, learn towards L
Sept. 28___BYE
Oct. 5_____at Minnesota Toss-up, lean towards W
Oct. 12____Michigan L, but not a blowout


Third Quarter: 1-2 wins
Oct. 19____Wisconsin (Homecoming)L probable, but upset candidate
Oct. 26____at Purdue Toss-up
Nov. 2_____Rutgers (Dads Day) W


Fourth quarter: 0-1 wins
Nov. 9_____at Michigan State L probable, but upset candidate
Nov. 16____BYE
Nov. 23____at Iowa L probable, but upset candidate
Nov. 30____Northwestern Toss-up, lean towards L
In my way too early projection, I have the floor at 5 wins and the ceiling at 8. Predicting 6-6 and would not be surprised by 7-5. If the offseason goes how it has to (e.g. good DC and staff hires, no exodus of key transfers, add a couple JUCO/transfer contributors) then I do not see Illinois being blown out in any football games next year. I am genuinely excited for 2019, and even more so for 2020.

Now to wait and be bored in between IlliniBoard articles for the next 9 months.
 
#19
The key will be Eastern Michigan. That’s a sneaky tough game.

EMU beat Big Ten teams the last 2 years, and 4 points from knocking off Kentucky.

They’ve only lost by >7 twice in two years.

That game’s the pivot between a bowl and the season concluding 2 days after Thanksgiving.
 
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#20
Off Season Priorities:

1. Retain Rod Smith
2. Hire a good DC
3. Maintain most of the 2 Deep. Don't need a bunch of attrition and youth movement in 2019
4. Hire another coordinator who is a solid recruiter
5. Finish strong recruiting
6. If it's not too much to ask, convince Jeff Thomas to play his last year here before he's off to NFL
Healthy, healthy and more health.
 
#21
How many starters do we have coming back? 18 by my count. No excuse to not win 6 games with that many guys and all the backups returning. Adding 2 starters in Beason and IW. Only need to win one additional B1G game assuming we beat EMU at home.
 
#22
So what’s the minimum for Lovie to be retained? I think most of you will say bowl or bust. But most of you have also talked about simply being competitive.

What if we go 5-7 but are competitive in every game? Like cover the spread against Michigan and right there with every other opponent. That’s enough to show improvement right?

To me, that’s a big step up over 63-0 and would deserve more fan support going into the next season. Unless our recruiting class is completely bare.
 
#23
California
I think that the minimum for Lovie to be retained should be six wins.

I expect that Josh would retain him with a 5 - 7 and there are extenuating circumstances (injuries, bad referee call in a close game, a player gets sick from eating too much pizza, etc.).

I expect that even Josh would have trouble retaining Love with a 4 - 8.
 
#24
So what’s the minimum for Lovie to be retained? I think most of you will say bowl or bust. But most of you have also talked about simply being competitive.

What if we go 5-7 but are competitive in every game? Like cover the spread against Michigan and right there with every other opponent. That’s enough to show improvement right?

To me, that’s a big step up over 63-0 and would deserve more fan support going into the next season. Unless our recruiting class is completely bare.
I think Lovie has to at least win 6 and go bowling. Lovie used up a lot of good will this season and I think the results need to start being more obvious than close losses.

The only scenario I could imagine him surviving a 5-7 season is if the advanced analytics love us and Lovie has a monster recruiting class ready to be signed.