Looking ahead to 2020

Seriously, T, do you really think we can win B1G games without Peters and BheBhe healthy and playing? Who else do we have that's a ball warrior and deep threat demanding a double team? Do you really think that returning players can generate a pass rush and clog the gaps on the line to control the LOS and running game? Do you really think the OL will improve enough to open holes for a dominant and CONSISTENTLY STRONG running game, and perhaps learn to pass protect? Do you see ANY RB on the roster capable of being a 1,000 yd rusher and a B1G feature back next year except for a healthy Epstein?

Perhaps if you can't answer these issues the darker scenario IS the realistic one...

I've followed CFB long enough to know that anything can happen. That's what make the game so interesting. It's just that what I've seen from Lovie's teams having all these things come together has about the same chance as drawing inside straight...
If Smalling and Sidney are healthy, we have mucho help. Let's not forget we have some frosh WR that have speed and will be sophs next year. Probably add one more from the portal as well. QB room will be much better next year and Robinson could slide down to fourth. Luke Ford's blocking skills added to our OL, is a big time plus. Barker was better, but, still not good enough. Ford is the real deal and he is a big addition. Barker will be another year older as well and should show continued improvement in his blocking. There were a lot of missed assignments from the TE and RB's blocking last season, Ford fixes one of those by himself. Offense should and will be pretty good. Pass rush is an issue. One can hope a couple of DE's have senior years to be proud of. That is not unheard of. Gay started to come on at times late last season. He is what, 20? LB'er is a strength. DT still needs portal help. But, one guy can change it and that is Avery. Defense returns a lot as well, it just depends on what we can add in the portal. Right now, we have four open spots. If we add four more guys from the portal, that is a lot.
 
I think the affect the portal had, aside from the QB position (More than that later), on the success of this football team is vastly overstated.
Agreed. Peters and BheBhe were a nice help, but Betiku wasn't much outside early games. Others weren't impacts last year.
 
I think the affect the portal had, aside from the QB position (More than that later), on the success of this football team is vastly overstated.
It's not like the formula has ever really changed. 90% of transfers are replacement level players (in terms of overall D1 talent). If your team needs someone like that for whatever reason, then go grab them.

There will always be a group of transfers who can immediately help P5 teams out as better than average players. We've been lucky (or chalk it up to coaching evals) and gotten a couple of them last year. The rest have been average at best and as should've been expected.

It's not like this is something new for Illinois; jucos and grad transfers have always been on the teams. They are important to the way teams build a roster out, but they shouldn't be depended upon to make a team successful. I think this iteration has been a decent mix, though we depended upon too many last year. Grab a few every year and hope they pan out.

Agreed QB is kind of in a class of their own. You can find some real talent there in the transfer market.
 
Well first saying the impact other than Peters is vastly overstated is kind of like saying I'm a vegetarian except for eating meat. Illini don't go to a bowl game without Peters. I'd also say they wouldn't have gone to a bowl game without BheBhe because not sure they beat Wisc. or MSU without him. And given that we only beat UConn by 8 points, are we sure we would have won that game without Betiku's 4 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 QB hurries?

I agree we probably put too much stock in the transfer portal, but the difference between a bowl game and no bowl game really can't be overstated in what it meant this year as well as potentially future recruiting and success.
 
Well first saying the impact other than Peters is vastly overstated is kind of like saying I'm a vegetarian except for eating meat. Illini don't go to a bowl game without Peters. I'd also say they wouldn't have gone to a bowl game without BheBhe because not sure they beat Wisc. or MSU without him. And given that we only beat UConn by 8 points, are we sure we would have won that game without Betiku's 4 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 QB hurries?

I agree we probably put too much stock in the transfer portal, but the difference between a bowl game and no bowl game really can't be overstated in what it meant this year as well as potentially future recruiting and success.
Bold: Only without context does this apply.
 
Can we go 4-2-5? It gives Lovie his beloved two high safeties. Tolson and Hanson can work the middle focused on the run. Then our tweener dbs can zone the middle and beason and hobbs can be locked up outside?
I keep wondering why we went after a nose in shipton. We need edge ( de) a lot more (I know we need more everywhere on the line).
What if Lovie simply decided he had more talent at the second level and got a nose to shift the pressure from a traditional de to a blitz ing back.

Just trying to find where we are going to get pressure. Otherwise who plays db prob won't matter. Imo
Can we stop Big Ten running games in a 4-2-5
 
Agreed. Peters and BheBhe were a nice help, but Betiku wasn't much outside early games. Others weren't impacts last year.
We can go in-depth all the way down if anyone cares to but for your post, let's discuss Betiku. The comment Arizona Bob has made, on a number of occasions, is that this team acquired an unsustainable quantity of talent via the transfer market last cycle and that without this talent our roster had/has the makeup of a 3-9 football team (He said 3-8, guessing he meant 3-9). Much of his reasoning is based off of composite scores/stars from places like 247. On page 5 he specifically notes the addition of a 5* transfer that we wouldn't normally add through our HS recruiting efforts, the player in question is Betiku. On it's face this thought has merit. However, that merit is lost when you analyze Betiku's on-field play and thus his actual contribution to the team. His inability to diagnose what is happening has rendered him ineffective in the run game as a whole (I openly campaigned in the gameday thread to keep him out against Iowa, which we did. That type of misdirection offense would be a disaster for him). His value only comes from pressuring the QB, something he failed to do in Big Ten play (Of his 9 sacks in 2019, a meager 2 came in conference games). The case for value is further complicated by the fact that Betiku missed a 4 game stretch that saw us win 3 of 4 games (In a season where we won 6 in total) in order to secure bowl eligibility. The idea that this team minus transfers is of 3-9 caliber when in actuality it went 6-7 categorizes Betiku, to a reasonable extent, as the football equivalent of a 3 WAR player (WAR is useless in this game, using only for illustration purposes) when his on-field play suggests he was little more than replacement level. His 247 composite status and place in the starting lineup has tricked Bob into overstating his on-field value.

The case above, again if anyone cares to break it down, can also be made for Trevon Sidney, Richie Petitbon and Milo Eifler. Our concern with the portal should not be that it's an unsustainable method of talent acquisition but instead, an overall poor use of our resources aside from the QB position.

I have very strong feelings about the transfer market but football has a funny way of forcing you to constantly re-evaluate your position and if necessary, alter it in an effort to evolve as the game itself evolves. I am no exception. After a few conversations and some deep internal thought, I'm resigned to the fact that my view of the transfer market must change as it relates to the QB position. The idea that talent at QB must be acquired at the HS senior level and developed over the long term is clearly no longer accurate. It was communicated to me that 13 bowl teams (Illinois included) started a transfer QB in the 2019 postseason. 3 of the 4 CFP participants started a transfer QB in the 2019 postseason (Lincoln Riley himself has never coached a team without one). And it's not slowing down. Oregon is likely to take and start a transfer this cycle (Hot rumor is the kid from Wake, Newman), Utah has taken and will start a transfer this cycle, Kentucky has taken and will start a transfer this cycle and all of those decisions have happened before February, a wave will follow. The idea that we can continue to add the quantity of talent that we have in the transfer market is clearly one of flaw but it's no longer reasonable to include the QB position within this view point. I personally am of the opinion that it must be excluded from the conversation entirely. The transfer market, for the QB, is now the new normal.
 
I think the affect the portal had, aside from the QB position (More than that later), on the success of this football team is vastly overstated.
You think the effect of BheBhe in the transfer portal was overstated? I'd say you are dead wrong, assuming that's your position, which is what you appear to say.
 
Any word on how Beason's rehab is going? After that surgery he must've lost some speed and cutting ability.
No reason for that to be the case in an ACL surgery for someone his age. In fact, I've had orthopedic surgeons tell me that kids are stronger after and ACL surgery than they were before.
 
I think the affect the portal had, aside from the QB position (More than that later), on the success of this football team is vastly overstated.
When the QB touches the ball more than any other player outside center the impact is felt on every offensive play, snap, read, and throw. I know you say more on it later. But we both know it’s single most important position in football.
 
At the end of the day it comes down to coaching. I know the sentiment this season with all the new talent that Rod’s offense would flow; yet due to to these transfers learning on the fly they couldn’t become fully accustomed. As long as Lovie’s D can put up a similar middle of the pack performance this season (need someone to replace Dele, Milan) then it’s up to Rod’s offense to win us some games. After watching it for two years it seems very gadgety. We have elite agility in I.Williams and Sidney, Cumby and Frenchie have a twitch and quickness, Imatorbhebhe is a legit deep threat. I don’t see guys like Smalling, Navarro, or Washington being good fits but with that O-Line and QB there’s no reason we can’t scratch Top 40/30ish in the country.
 
Likes: thunderwear
At the end of the day it comes down to coaching. I know the sentiment this season with all the new talent that Rod’s offense would flow; yet due to to these transfers learning on the fly they couldn’t become fully accustomed. As long as Lovie’s D can put up a similar middle of the pack performance this season (need someone to replace Dele, Milan) then it’s up to Rod’s offense to win us some games. After watching it for two years it seems very gadgety. We have elite agility in I.Williams and Sidney, Cumby and Frenchie have a twitch and quickness, Imatorbhebhe is a legit deep threat. I don’t see guys like Smalling, Navarro, or Washington being good fits but with that O-Line and QB there’s no reason we can’t scratch Top 40/30ish in the country.

This was my basic takeaway. Except, you are forgetting Ford. I believe we have two solid tight ends. And, our tight end sets next year will be what makes our offense. Either way, there is no reason to expect the defense won't remain close to the same (at least) and the offense will move back to the middle of the pack.

I also believe that we won't need to expect such drastic downturns in production given that our depth is improving and Rod will finally start to have his QBs in place after this season. After next season he will almost always have upperclassmen in the QB position, which will make a huge difference in consistency. Assuming that we can get first downs on offense, the defense's numbers will improve from not being on the field so much.
 
Faber College
Is the general thought on Ford that he will not be used as a traditional hand in the dirt tight end?
 
No. He improves the team right away with his blocking. It is an immediate improvement.
 
Is the general thought on Ford that he will not be used as a traditional hand in the dirt tight end?
Any chance Ford could line up as a WR in some sets?
I think Ford's traditional blocking is way to good not to have him with his hand in the dirt, but he is athletic enough to be split out. I would say he could play the Gronk role just fine (50/50 - 60/40). Now whether Rod's can work that into his offense consistently we wont know till next year.
 
At the end of the day it comes down to coaching. I know the sentiment this season with all the new talent that Rod’s offense would flow; yet due to to these transfers learning on the fly they couldn’t become fully accustomed. As long as Lovie’s D can put up a similar middle of the pack performance this season (need someone to replace Dele, Milan) then it’s up to Rod’s offense to win us some games. After watching it for two years it seems very gadgety. We have elite agility in I.Williams and Sidney, Cumby and Frenchie have a twitch and quickness, Imatorbhebhe is a legit deep threat. I don’t see guys like Smalling, Navarro, or Washington being good fits but with that O-Line and QB there’s no reason we can’t scratch Top 40/30ish in the country.
Wait, what? Smalling has been a deep threat. He just drops it sometimes. Washington has really good hands and was a true frosh that pretty much everyone loved. He might start next season. Not out of the question and did you not see Navarro. Get all our receivers back and he is not going to be the first or second option on most routes. But, he had some plays as well and some stupid catches. The wildcrad is Campbell, he is another guy with track speed and is 6'4" tall. Watch his video. Had he not gotten hurt, he probably runs some routes as well.
 
Wait, what? Smalling has been a deep threat. He just drops it sometimes. Washington has really good hands and was a true frosh that pretty much everyone loved. He might start next season. Not out of the question and did you not see Navarro. Get all our receivers back and he is not going to be the first or second option on most routes. But, he had some plays as well and some stupid catches. The wildcrad is Campbell, he is another guy with track speed and is 6'4" tall. Watch his video. Had he not gotten hurt, he probably runs some routes as well.
Sorry I did not mean to discredit Smalling, Navarro, or Washington as I believe they have big ten level talent. After watching his offense for two years and in the past it seems Rod’s offense values speed more in the short passing game to get open, and on play action to gain separation. Of course Smalling will start next year and be a playmaker, Navarro probably has some of the best hands in the conference, and Washington showed a lot of promise. They will all see the field, but IMO are not a great fit atm for Rod’s scheme.
 
Sorry I did not mean to discredit Smalling, Navarro, or Washington as I believe they have big ten level talent. After watching his offense for two years and in the past it seems Rod’s offense values speed more in the short passing game to get open, and on play action to gain separation. Of course Smalling will start next year and be a playmaker, Navarro probably has some of the best hands in the conference, and Washington showed a lot of promise. They will all see the field, but IMO are not a great fit atm for Rod’s scheme.
Rod's offense, like most spreads, is designed to get the playmakers in space to "out athlete" the competition. If you gave Ricky the ball with a CB 2 yards in front of him with no help, would you bet he could break that tackle? If so, he will be good in this offense
 
Rod's offense, like most spreads, is designed to get the playmakers in space to "out athlete" the competition. If you gave Ricky the ball with a CB 2 yards in front of him with no help, would you bet he could break that tackle? If so, he will be good in this offense

Bold: Unfortunately, this is not correct. That is not how our offense functions