Looking ahead to 2019

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Naperville
Having Taylor Martinez and Nebraska in early in the big tean season should be a plus for us, as when that kid hits full stride, he and their offense, is gonna be almost impossible to stop.

But it's a much more winnable game IMO having a Sophmore quarterback on the road for his 1st B1G game of season, then having to play in their place again where he plays with all the confidence in the world!
Martinez kills any optimism that I have for this game. When have we stopped or even slowed down a dual threat QB? I know our defense was bad against almost everyone but we have a better chance of slowing down teams with pro-style QBs. If Martinez is healthy then we will probably need to put up 60+ points to have a shot. Just not a good match up for us at all.
 
I am not going to say they win or lose. I do believe this team is going to surprise a lot of fans with their competitiveness. I base that on the maturity of roster.
I agree. I think this team will surprise many. I also think there will be times this team disappoints. Wisconsin had a down year this year, they are also top 10-25 caliber. We are hoping to qualify for a bowl. I’m more favorable on our wins coming from middle of the pack teams than top of the pack teams. I’d love to beat Wisconsin and Michigan. At this point, I’m hoping to beat northwestern, Purdue, and other teams hovering around 50. I don’t think we are close to the level of competing with top 10 caliber. I hope I’m wrong. But I’m hoping for a 6 win season this year and 8 the following year with a year of growth and development for the true freshmen playmakers. I think this is doable
 
Morrison, CO
Martinez kills any optimism that I have for this game. When have we stopped or even slowed down a dual threat QB? I know our defense was bad against almost everyone but we have a better chance of slowing down teams with pro-style QBs. If Martinez is healthy then we will probably need to put up 60+ points to have a shot. Just not a good match up for us at all.
Martinez is going to be a problem for everyone in the west as long as he stays. What's really discouraging is that they have Luke McCaffrey coming in next year as well. Between him and Dylan at UM, I'm not going to like the McCaffrey family soon (although Ed does make an excellent horseradish sauce!)
 
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Martinez kills any optimism that I have for this game. When have we stopped or even slowed down a dual threat QB? I know our defense was bad against almost everyone but we have a better chance of slowing down teams with pro-style QBs. If Martinez is healthy then we will probably need to put up 60+ points to have a shot. Just not a good match up for us at all.
Yeah your definitely right about that! This is why i wanted us to land Mathis so bad and why i think its almost a program turning moment that we land Cooper...

Because if we can develop the team speed that this staff is actively trying to acquire, especially on defense, we will see a momentous rise from this program.

And our lack of team speed has never been more on display than in the Linebacking core. If we can upgrade our speed and instinct skills at that position, we will no longer be a disposable team in the face of dual threat qb's...

In-turn, with those upgrades & additions, teams will now have to adjust and change their gamelans in order to matchup with our speed. And that speed controls the edges and keeps the quarterback unsure and indecisive in the pocket, therefore flipping our weakness on its head into a strength, IMO.
 
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Yeah your definitely right about that! This is why i wanted us to land Mathis so bad and why i think its almost a program turning moment that we land Cooper...

Because if we can develop the team speed that this staff is actively trying to acquire, especially on defense, we will see a momentous rise from this program.

And our lack of team speed has never been more on display than in the Linebacking core. If we can upgrade our speed and instinct skills at that position, we will no longer be a disposable team in the face of dual threat qb's.. But more so they will have to adjust and change their gamelan in order to matchup with our speed. & that speed controls the edges and keeps the quarterback unsure and indecisive in the pocket, therefore flipping our weakness on its head into a strength, IMO.
Agreed... even if Cooper isn't ready next year (he very well might not be strength/size wise), I still think it would be worth starting him from the jump for this reason. Throw Eifler and Cooper out there and all of a sudden the LB core goes from well below average speed to well above average. You could have Eifler (MLB), Cooper (WLB), and Harding (SLB) out there if you want to be balanced against the run/pass, and Hansen is an okay run-stopper off the bench. Tolson would also see some snaps at the two OLB spots.

Building off of what you said, Cooper's decision is just absolutely massive for this defense and therefore for the program.
 
This conversation about speed brings me to a very under appreciated aspect of a football program, the strength coach. I had high hopes for Boese when he started. Tough to judge the guy if we give him a roster full of 3 star kids that don't stick around long enough to see any real results. Every athlete has a "ceiling" based on their genetics, speed being the lowest generally. I really think this staff has been trying to get really fast guys, regardless of their current size. 2-3 years, those fast guys will be big fast guys. But if Boese can make the Tolsens (already big and strong) fast, and the Sidney Browns (already fast but small) bigger and stronger, this defense will dominate the B1G offenses. Shammond will put on 30lbs in his freshman year. Those guys are easy for a strength coach. I am interested to see what some of these guys look like next year.
 
This conversation about speed brings me to a very under appreciated aspect of a football program, the strength coach. I had high hopes for Boese when he started. Tough to judge the guy if we give him a roster full of 3 star kids that don't stick around long enough to see any real results. Every athlete has a "ceiling" based on their genetics, speed being the lowest generally. I really think this staff has been trying to get really fast guys, regardless of their current size. 2-3 years, those fast guys will be big fast guys. But if Boese can make the Tolsens (already big and strong) fast, and the Sidney Browns (already fast but small) bigger and stronger, this defense will dominate the B1G offenses. Shammond will put on 30lbs in his freshman year. Those guys are easy for a strength coach. I am interested to see what some of these guys look like next year.
They will not dominate big ten offenses because they are going up against 4 and 5 star recruits that have gone through a superior strength and training program. Illinois is not going to improve recruiting toward the bottom of the big ten year after year.
 
They will not dominate big ten offenses because they are going up against 4 and 5 star recruits that have gone through a superior strength and training program. Illinois is not going to improve recruiting toward the bottom of the big ten year after year.
Only Michigan and Ohio State get multiple 4 and 5 star kids. And they are in the East.
 
They will not dominate big ten offenses because they are going up against 4 and 5 star recruits that have gone through a superior strength and training program. Illinois is not going to improve recruiting toward the bottom of the big ten year after year.
I know it’s tempting to think we should be pulling 4 and 5* athletes regularly. But if you look at our history, our top recruits of all time (since rankings started), you would notice that we have less than 35 4* or better recruits since sites started tracking this.

https://247sports.com/college/illinois/Sport/Football/AllTimeRecruits/

You are correct, we won’t compete with Ohio State, or Michigan for the foreseeable future. But not many teams do. Honestly, we are not on the precipice of the top 25, so let’s stop comparing ourselves there, for the moment. We are on the cusp of qualifying for a bowl game. Next year, whether or not we do qualify, that is about where our program is. It would be a good first step before we can make a case to a bunch of 4 and 5 star athletes. We have a solid foundation and lacked playmakers this year. We were thin and depleted. We couldn’t make up for the injuries and dismissals. Our 4th and 5th string had trouble catching the ball.

But the base is there. We have a solid class of athletes that can compete. Add some playmakers and we can be explosive. This class added considerable speed and will put us in position to win some games, make some 3rd down stops, get some turnovers, return some punts next year. This is what we lacked this year.

However, we are still thin, we need players at positions of need, particularly at linebacker and we need some luck with healthy players.

Then 2020 and on, can be targeted recruiting. We need solid people at a handful of positions to improve and take over for seniors leaving and we can upgrade our classes. We can find some gems, such as, Sydney Brown, Bennet Williams and develop them. This is how we will build our program.

We can’t take a significant number of 5* and 4* athletes because they wouldn’t qualify academically. Jeff Thomas May be a turning point in this endeavor, but his first go around didn’t work. I think 2019 we can get to a bowl game and I think 2020, we could have a northwestern-like run at the big west. After these types of things happen, we can legitimately make claims for the 4 and 5* athletes that can take us to the next level. But before we will get a bunch of 4 and 5 star kids, we need to qualify for a bowl game. And then another. We need to compete
For the Big West. We need to start sending kids to the NFL again. This will happen, but we won’t recruit these kids in large quantity until we do. I think this current signing class will signify a turning point.

Remember, we were projected to win 3 games this season, we won 4 and almost 5 against USF. This next year we will he projected to win 4 or 5. And we are all rooting for 6. So let’s keep things in perspective and see that we are improving and developing a culture
 
Excellent post, Thunderwear. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run. We all need to be aware that NW has a 15 yr head start on building a sustainable winning program. Wisky 25. Iowa 35. Wisky gets the occasional big time recruit but not very many. Iowa and NW make their living on 3 star kids with the odd 4 star thrown in. That's where we will live for the most part. We all have a fantasy of competing at or near the top of CFB but lets get to consistently winning records and 4 or 5 bowl trips before we start expecting 4 and 5 star recruits to show up in numbers.
 
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Tyngsborough, MA
Sorry, I don't do Twitter or Facebook. So, looking ahead to 2019, do we remain Littyville or will the coaches come up with a new catch phrase? If so, any thoughts on what it might be?
 
Forgottonia
I’m keeping any optimism in check until we see who take the field on opening day. Transfers, suspensions, and injuries derailed this season before we even got started. And while the win total was close to what was projected, we were not close to competitive in our losses to average teams we will need to beat to take a full step forward. I’d call myself hopeful, but not optimistic until the season gets here and we know what we have. I am however optimistic for the future based on the recruits we have signed and the potential for a few more that could be huge.
 
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Looking ahead to the 2019 draft- what are everyones thoughts on Illinois chances putting a guy or two through to the pros this year?

Looking at Drafttek, there is currently 1 U of I player ranked in the top 400 prospects:

OG Nick Alegretti: rank # 386

This ranking would mean hes probably a fringe UDFA/camp body at best ATM. Hopefully his pro day can get him a bit more noticed.
 
Aurora, IL
The infusion of talent on the offensive side of the ball this offseason is probably the greatest that I can remember. Not to automatically say this translates into wins (especially with the defense as porous as it was last season), but Rod Smith is definitely salivating with all these new weapons. Illini Board has a good read on this topic - https://illiniboard.com/story/2018/12/21/talent-influx/.

New Offensive Additions of Note:
QB - Williams
RB/Slot - Cumby
WR - Thomas
TE - Ford
OL - Boyd

And all of this talent will build on a team that was already showing strides of improvement (albeit to middle of the pack in the B1G) on the offensive side of the ball. https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/conferences/big-ten/2018-team-offense.html

Anyone have any update on the possibility of Oklahoma WR Miller transferring to Illinois? Was Illinois linked to him?
 
Morrison, CO
Looking ahead to the 2019 draft- what are everyones thoughts on Illinois chances putting a guy or two through to the pros this year?

Looking at Drafttek, there is currently 1 U of I player ranked in the top 400 prospects:

OG Nick Alegretti: rank # 386

This ranking would mean hes probably a fringe UDFA/camp body at best ATM. Hopefully his pro day can get him a bit more noticed.
Seems like Chase McLaughlin should have a shot at being drafted. If not, he should get signed right after the draft.
 
Seems like Chase McLaughlin should have a shot at being drafted. If not, he should get signed right after the draft.
According to Drafttek, there are 15 K/P ranked in the top 400.

2 in the top 200 (189, 190)
9 in 200-300 (219-294) ***NOTE: A 7 round draft usually has 256 picks. That means there are 9 total P/K that are projected to be draft-able.***
4 in 300-400 (306-328)

The top P is Mitch Wishnowsky (190)
The top K is Cole Tracy (189)

Chase McLaughlin is currently not ranked, which gives me pause on his draftability.
 
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According to Drafttek, there are 15 K/P ranked in the top 400.

2 in the top 200 (189, 190)
9 in 200-300 (219-294) ***NOTE: A 7 round draft usually has 256 picks. That means there are 9 total P/K that are projected to be draft-able.***
4 in 300-400 (306-328)

The top P is Mitch Wishnowsky (190)
The top K is Cole Tracy (189)

Chase McLaughlin is currently not ranked, which gives me pause on his draftability.
For Kickers, it makes way more sense not to draft them. Kicking success is highly unpredictable and there are a few good kickers available in free agency. Kicking has been relatively ugly this year. I wouldn't be surprised to see multiple tryouts with NFL caliber kickers.
 
Only Michigan and Ohio State get multiple 4 and 5 star kids. And they are in the East.
That is not true. Right now Illinois ranks 13th in the big ten in recruiting. They are not gaining on anyone.
 
Woodridge, IL
That is not true. Right now Illinois ranks 13th in the big ten in recruiting. They are not gaining on anyone.
That number is strictly due to the small class we have. If you go by averaging ranking we're 7th. Assuming Shammond Cooper picks us, that number will go up. That number also won't factor in getting Jeff Thomas and presumably Luke Ford.
 
Morrison, CO
According to Drafttek, there are 15 K/P ranked in the top 400.

2 in the top 200 (189, 190)
9 in 200-300 (219-294) ***NOTE: A 7 round draft usually has 256 picks. That means there are 9 total P/K that are projected to be draft-able.***
4 in 300-400 (306-328)

The top P is Mitch Wishnowsky (190)
The top K is Cole Tracy (189)

Chase McLaughlin is currently not ranked, which gives me pause on his draftability.
Interesting and thanks for the data. I'm definitely clouded by bias...he just seems to me to be a strong and accurate kicker which many NFL teams seem to lack.
 
They will not dominate big ten offenses because they are going up against 4 and 5 star recruits that have gone through a superior strength and training program. Illinois is not going to improve recruiting toward the bottom of the big ten year after year.
What makes you think Illinois strength and conditioning is inferior to other programs? You don't have a clue about coach Boese's program! I am confident the Illini conditioning is as good or better than all the others in the Big Ten.
 
That is not true. Right now Illinois ranks 13th in the big ten in recruiting. They are not gaining on anyone.
What?
My original point was - IF our strength coach can do his job at a high level, all these undersized fast kids that the coaches are brining in, will be big fast kids after 2+ years in the system. We will have better athletes on the field than what the B1G has on offense, as a whole.
Your response was - that is false due to all the 4 and 5 star kids that have gone through a strength program will be the competition.
My response - Only Michigan and Ohio State bring in multiple 4 and 5 star kids. I did forget to add Penn State in there. But they are all on the other side of the B1G so we will not play all of those kids in the same year.
You respond by stating this year's recruiting rankings?
Sorry to make this one of those long post. But lets use two individuals as an example.
Dallas Craddieth vs Sydney Brown
Dallas was 6-1 193lb when he came in .8891 3 star
Sydney was 6-0 185lb .8294 3 star
Very different ratings. Dallas was a good high school player for sure. But on a pure speed standpoint, Sydney is faster. After 3 years, Sydney is going to be just as strong but will still have the edge in speed. If I had to choose between a 6-1 210 lumbering hard hitter or a 6-0 210 speed demon, who also likes to lay the wood at Safety, give me the speed.
Take the high end speed, and add muscle to them. After they have developed physically, they will be better athletes then what the B1G is putting out there on an average basis.
 
If you look at an incoming class as players that we will finally get to field next year then on top of the 11 coming in we have Verdis Brown, Larry Boyd, Jeff Thomas, and Luke Ford. Also, we are the favorites for Shammond Cooper. If all these
players are playing next year for the Illini you have to imagine that 6 regular season wins, maybe 7 or 8 if they pull off an upset or two are plausible. On top of that if I checked correctly we are losing 3 starters total which has to be among the lowest in the NCAA in Phillips, Allegretti, and McLaughlin. If our Defense improves like it should and the offense remains under Rod Smith’s control then I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be in a bowl game next year.
 
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