Looking ahead to 2019

I agree with you, but I thought Lovie had the premonition that Urlacher's speed with make him great in his system at Linebacker.
Urlacher was a college linebacker/safety hybrid. Moved full time to the middle linebacker spot under Dick Jauron when drafted by the Bears in 2000. Lovie became the head coach in Chicago before the 2004 season.
 
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Urlacher was a college linebacker/safety hybrid. Moved full time to the middle linebacker spot under Dick Jauron when drafted by the Bears in 2000. Lovie became the head coach in Chicago before the 2004 season.
Urlacher started with the Bears as an OLB and only moved inside after a couple games as a rookie because Barry Minter got hurt. Remember Barry Minter?
 
Ford is a real question, but Thomas got dismissed by Miami. I highly doubt he wouldn't be immediately eligible, since it wasn't his choice to leave.
That seems to have very little bearing on eligibility. Too many examples to name of kids dismissed from a team who weren’t granted immediate eligibility.
 
Urlacher started with the Bears as an OLB and only moved inside after a couple games as a rookie because Barry Minter got hurt. Remember Barry Minter?
Vaguely. Roosevelt Colvin is the only other Bears linebacker I really remember from those early 2000s days outside of 54.
 
Urlacher started with the Bears as an OLB and only moved inside after a couple games as a rookie because Barry Minter got hurt. Remember Barry Minter?
I 100% remember Minter. The long term goal was for Brian to always play in the middle. They were trying to ease him into the LB position by starting him at OLB where the impact of Lineman was a little less. If you remember, outside one big hit verse Min, he wasn't very good. Once they moved him to Middle, he took off.
 
But what about the defense? What does Illinois need? A lot, I think, besides a great DC. What do you think? I need some analysis.
Everything I know about football has been learned by going to Illini games and reading Illini blogs. Obviously, I think that makes me perfectly qualified to answer this likely to have an opinionated loudmouth on the subject. Let's have a look my five hot teaks.

Unlike numerous posters here, I believe Lovie's defensive scheme will work if its properly executed. The likelihood of the defense being properly executed next year improves because:
1. Our defense won't be physically overmatched nearly as much next year, particularly late in games & season, because, as mentioned by others above, the age, time in the S&C system and physical maturity of the players. (Endurance isn't a charm of youth.)
2. As Robert pointed out, five of the top seven rated athletes available to take the field next year are on defense, and four of those players weren't on the field last year (Avery, Beason, Eifler, V. Brown, and Cooper). [Welcome Mr. Cooper!!!!!]
3. The Defensive Unit now has Lovie's attention, and that is not the kind of attention they want. The right new DC will view that as a huge opportunity, and will help Lovie shift his attention elsewhere by teaching the players to play with discipline, because...
4. ...the number of players out of position and blowing assignments and missing tackles will drop significantly as a result of #'s 1 and 3 above (age and attention). The 'just do your job' mantra will start to sink in more, too, which will improve the odds that...
5. ...something will 'click', and suddenly the whole unit is just much better.

The potential ceiling for a defensive unit in which all of the above happens? (i.e. better physical match-ups + more disciplined scheme + more PLUS athletes + it Clicks) I think that could be mid-pack B1G in 2019. If we get 4 out of 5, which we absolutely should, we'll be comparable to the top middle of our division by late in the season. Which should be enough to get us to 6-7 wins.

Tl;Dr: We'll match up better physically, play more disciplined, and compete.
 
TE and WR were two of our biggest areas of need. Fingers crossed on both Jeff and Luke getting waivers (I think Lukes is pretty cut and dry, Jeffs not so much, though Richt retiring might help), but for the first time since perhaps 07, we have legit talent (albeit unproven) at every skill position on offense. Smalling should bounce back and if Corbin returns and Epstien gets/remains healthy, those are proven pieces to fit in with Williams, Thomas, and Ford. A (mostly) proven o-line, and even if Williams doesn't start, I have complete faith Rivers can be a half way decent QB. Depth is an issue still, especially at WR, but if Cumby can play the slot effectively, this offense can be as dangerous as we've had in a long time. Defense needs to grow, and adding Beason, Eifler, and Cooper should help too.

Hard to think of a time I was more optimistic about an upcoming football season, probably hasn't happened since Zook left.
 
Fingers crossed on both Jeff and Luke getting waivers (I think Lukes is pretty cut and dry, Jeffs not so much, though Richt retiring might help)
Don't the articles state that Jeff Thomas has a child and that child and its mother live in the area. I think they have mentioned that also as a reason why he transferred to Illinois. I would imagine that goes a long way with the NCAA for a waiver.
 
Don't the articles state that Jeff Thomas has a child and that child and its mother live in the area. I think they have mentioned that also as a reason why he transferred to Illinois. I would imagine that goes a long way with the NCAA for a waiver.
Agreed. Not that the NCAA can be trusted but Jeff Thomas' situation is the exact situation this waiver was created for. A parent 1,000 miles from their child and wanting to be closer. It would be very difficult to argue that this isn't a situation where the waiver is needed
 
I got so excited for Illinois football next season I decided to make an early depth chart. I’m sure I got some of the guys with redshirt years wrong, and a couple of wrong positions. I decided to only go two deep in the secondary due to confusion, and offensive line due to lack of depth. Also went three deep on defensive line and realized how stacked we are there that some guys like Julian Pearl and Ezekiel Holmes couldn’t even crack top 12. Hopefully this gives a little clarity as of now on how we should look opening day.
 

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TE and WR were two of our biggest areas of need. Fingers crossed on both Jeff and Luke getting waivers (I think Lukes is pretty cut and dry, Jeffs not so much, though Richt retiring might help), but for the first time since perhaps 07, we have legit talent (albeit unproven) at every skill position on offense. Smalling should bounce back and if Corbin returns and Epstien gets/remains healthy, those are proven pieces to fit in with Williams, Thomas, and Ford. A (mostly) proven o-line, and even if Williams doesn't start, I have complete faith Rivers can be a half way decent QB. Depth is an issue still, especially at WR, but if Cumby can play the slot effectively, this offense can be as dangerous as we've had in a long time. Defense needs to grow, and adding Beason, Eifler, and Cooper should help too.

Hard to think of a time I was more optimistic about an upcoming football season, probably hasn't happened since Zook left.

Luke says in this interview that there's little to no chance that he will get a waiver:

https://247sports.com/college/illin...usses-why-he-transferred-to-Illini-127334110/

What do you think of this waiver process? How do you feel about your chances to play right away?
“The hardship waiver? Uh, slim to none. I don’t think it’s a good chance. I don’t know about it, but what I heard from the Georgia guy was that there’s about a zero chance of that happening.”
I'm not sure what role Georgia plays in this but I'm not surprised that they wouldn't cooperate. They will more than likely never need to recruit anyone from Southern Illinois ever again so they don't have to worry about burning bridges.
 
The waiver is classic NCAA bs. I read Fields engaged a lawyer that helped Patterson get eligible immediately at Michigan. His angle (Fields), if this story is true, is that a baseball player made a racist comment to him. We know as long as the process is conducted behind closed doors that Michigan and Ohio State will get their transfers and lessers per NCAA whim. There is no due process or equal protection in the NCAA bureaucracy.
 
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Then again, we're Illinois!
You know what would be so Illinois?

Having one of the best kickers in the country during a time where we are so bad it doesn't even matter. Then finally getting some talent and expecting a bowl game, but the new kicker screws it up by missing 4 or 5 crucial field goals that takes us from 7 wins to 5 wins.

Please tell me we have a McLaughlin clone for the next 4 years.
 
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You know what would be so Illinois?

Having one of the best kickers in the country during a time where we are so bad it doesn't even matter. Then finally getting some talent and expecting a bowl game, but the new kicker screws it up by missing 4 or 5 crucial field goals that takes us from 7 wins to 5 wins.

Please tell me we have a McLaughlin clone for the next 4 years.
We will have two scholarship kickers on the roster so I would hope/expect that we have one serviceable kicker.

McCourt has been on scholarship since 2016 and Caleb Griffin was blue shirted this year.

Griffin is expected to win the job but McCourt wasn't that far behind McLaughlin from what I heard.
 
I thought prior to Thomas and Ford we had a good shot at a top 50 offense next year based on another years maturity on the line and added playmakers in Freshman class. My #1 concern was playmakers in the passing game. If Thomas is immediately eligible (and he absolutely should be) this becomes an extremely dangerous offense which I could see being top 20. If Thomas and Ford are both eligible, I don't think this offense has a ceiling. They could be top 10 and I don't think that is homerism or hyperbole.

2017 We were S&P+ Offense #124
2018 We were S&P+ Offense #78

If we experience a moderate jump on defense (15 to 20 spots from #122), which I think we will with experience and added talent, I think this is at least a 7 win team.

This thread started November 24 and since then we've added:

Keith Randolph, Shammond Cooper, Jeff Thomas, Luke Ford and we probably aren't done.
 
Not sure about Ford/Thomas next year. Biggest leap forward will be the depth and veteran line up. The new DC has to drill fundamentals and positioning. Hoping our line can stop plays at the line or hurry the QB to reduce the reads by our LBs and secondary.
 
I got so excited for Illinois football next season I decided to make an early depth chart. I’m sure I got some of the guys with redshirt years wrong, and a couple of wrong positions. I decided to only go two deep in the secondary due to confusion, and offensive line due to lack of depth. Also went three deep on defensive line and realized how stacked we are there that some guys like Julian Pearl and Ezekiel Holmes couldn’t even crack top 12. Hopefully this gives a little clarity as of now on how we should look opening day.
That is exciting.

That offense... wow... if we stay injury free and get the two waivers that is a squad I’d take against anyone with our OC. If we get lucky and one of our QBs plays surprisingly well we won’t be stopped

Defensive line looks really nice and deep. LB and secondary are the only positions I feel uneasy about - wish we had one more year out of Del’Shawn.
 
I got so excited for Illinois football next season I decided to make an early depth chart. I’m sure I got some of the guys with redshirt years wrong, and a couple of wrong positions. I decided to only go two deep in the secondary due to confusion, and offensive line due to lack of depth. Also went three deep on defensive line and realized how stacked we are there that some guys like Julian Pearl and Ezekiel Holmes couldn’t even crack top 12. Hopefully this gives a little clarity as of now on how we should look opening day.
The only thing I disagree with is Nate Hobbs is the best CB on this team. No way he is not the no. 1 guy on the field.
Also, Green played LG last year. I am not sure they are going to swap him to the other side after being thrust into the fire at the last minute last year. He struggled often and needs to be comfortable.
 
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If Thomas and Ford are both eligible, I don't think this offense has a ceiling. They could be top 10 and I don't think that is homerism or hyperbole.

2017 We were S&P+ Offense #124
2018 We were S&P+ Offense #78
2017 Penn State had a demi-god at RB and the best B1G quarterback in most stats and had the 10th ranked offense. Having a top 10 offense in the B1G (if your name isn't Ohio State) is damn near impossible.

Illinois offense will improve but let's not get crazy. Is 40th-best offense possible (a la 2018 Penn State)? Sure. Can I squint and see the offense scraping the top-30? Maybe, would take some serious strides from Rivers. Williams being a better version of Bush immediately. Continued o-line health. Corbin doing a repeat performance. I could also see the offense being around the current rankings since they are swapping in a much-more difficult schedule with vastly improved defenses (Michigan + Michigan State).
 
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2017 Penn State had a demi-god at RB and the best B1G quarterback in most stats and had the 10th ranked offense. Having a top 10 offense in the B1G (if your name isn't Ohio State) is damn near impossible.

Illinois offense will improve but let's not get crazy. Is 40th-best offense possible (a la 2018 Penn State)? Sure. Can I squint and see the offense scraping the top-30? Maybe, would take some serious strides from Rivers. Williams being a better version of Bush immediately. Continued o-line health. Corbin doing a repeat performance. I could also see the offense being around the current rankings since they are swapping in a much-more difficult schedule with vastly improved defenses (Michigan + Michigan State).
I think 40th is certainly attainable if not likely. If I. Williams happens to be Rod Smith's Kahlil Tate 2.0 then could be better, certainly. I expect Corbin to be better next year just by virtue of being bigger, stronger, and more mature. Shades of LeShoure, perhaps, assuming O-line stays healthy. Thomas if he plays would be our Rejus Benn/Brandon Lloyd. Guys that will spread the field and made our RBs and dual-threat QB even more dangerous. If our defense can even get into the the 80s in S&P+ ranking (attainable given an infusion of talent, a year of growth and maturity, and hopefully solid Rod Smith-level hire), then there is no reason we can't win 6 games even against our schedule.
 
Looking at next years schedule does anyone else think it would be a huge failure to get at least 6 wins? UConn, Rutgers, Akron, Minnesota, and Eastern Michigan are all games that this team would’ve won this year. So if the 2018 team would’ve went 5-7 at least with the 2019 schedule you have to envision that one of vs Nebraska, @Purdue, vs Northwestern, or vs Wisconsin turns into a win.
 
2017 Penn State had a demi-god at RB and the best B1G quarterback in most stats and had the 10th ranked offense. Having a top 10 offense in the B1G (if your name isn't Ohio State) is damn near impossible.

Illinois offense will improve but let's not get crazy. Is 40th-best offense possible (a la 2018 Penn State)? Sure. Can I squint and see the offense scraping the top-30? Maybe, would take some serious strides from Rivers. Williams being a better version of Bush immediately. Continued o-line health. Corbin doing a repeat performance. I could also see the offense being around the current rankings since they are swapping in a much-more difficult schedule with vastly improved defenses (Michigan + Michigan State).
We made a 46 space jump with a new OC, a true Frosh QB playing in several games, a mostly Sophomore Offensive Line and a receiving crew which was devastated by injury and poor performance. We return virtually everyone, another year older, another year in system and add A.D. Miller who should help immediately.

Jeff Thomas isn't Saquan Barkley but he is a force of nature in his own. Ford is loaded with potential and would be starting at Georgia next season. Michigan will take a step back on D next season as they lose a lot. I agree a ton has to go right with waivers and integrating Williams into system but our O-Line and running game should be devastating under any circumstance
 
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Is Corbin returning for sure? Haven't heard anything that would suggest he's on NFL team's radars at this point, but he obviously had a great year.

Looking at next years schedule does anyone else think it would be a huge failure to get at least 6 wins? UConn, Rutgers, Akron, Minnesota, and Eastern Michigan are all games that this team would’ve won this year. So if the 2018 team would’ve went 5-7 at least with the 2019 schedule you have to envision that one of vs Nebraska, @Purdue, vs Northwestern, or vs Wisconsin turns into a win.
EMU was a good team last year (beat Purdue). They lose a lot of their offensive production however. Minny was a good team this past year as well, but about as inconsistent as you can get (they won their bowl game FYI).

There are not 6 automatic wins on the schedule. UConn and Akron are the only two that I would label as sure things, and we've come excessively close to not winning those in the past. EMU and RU are two should win games. Minny and Purdue are likely to be close to tossups. Iowa and MSU are (by what I've read) are projected to have down years, but I would shocked to see them as anything less than touchdown favorites, at this point at least. Having NW at home to end the season should be very interesting.

The biggest problem I have with next year's schedule is that we play a lot of those close games away from home, namely Purdue and Minny. We get those at home and I feel way more confident about getting to 6 wins.
 
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