Illini Football 2021

#1      
Admin
Welcome to the Illini Football 2021 thread

Updated as of Feb. 17th-

Sat, Aug 28____Nebraska
Sat, Sept 4____UTSA
Sat, Sept 11___at Virginia
Sat, Sept 18___Maryland
Sat, Sept 25___at Purdue
Sat, Oct 2_____Charlotte
Sat, Oct 9_____Wisconsin
Sat, Oct 16____---bye---
Sat, Oct 23____at Penn State
Sat, Oct 30____Rutgers
Sat, Nov 6_____at Minnesota
Sat, Nov 13____---bye---
Sat, Nov 20____at Iowa
Sat, Nov 27____Northwestern
 
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#5      
My guess would be that we either play at a neutral site (Soldier Field perhaps?) or at Memorial Stadium.
So, it's an Illinois home game, so surely it would just move back to MS if the Covid situation remains such that fans can't be there.

Trouble is, Nebraska already filled in the date this game was originally scheduled (Nov 13) with a cupcake, and opened up a bye in Week 1 (which is smart, we probably should have done that).

Could Nebraska move Southeastern Louisiana to Week 1 and slot our game back in as originally scheduled? Who knows. It would probably be easiest for everybody to just play in Champaign on August 28, and if I were a betting man, that would be my prediction.

(I'm sure there is some thought that if the Covid situation has improved dramatically by, say, June, there might be massive interest in traveling to this game as so many people have been cooped up for over a year. So maybe they'll just play wait and see as long as they can.)
 
#6      
the ole ball coach
Milford
We played there in Lincoln last fall, so they owe us a home game . I still think the Dublin game just gets pushed back a year to 2022 - why not ? As long as unnecessary travelling is still being discouraged, there is no reason to travel anywhere for a game other than the home stadium of either team.

Nebraska travels really well anyway, so the Dublin game or any neutral site game is to their advantage. A game in Chicago at Soldier Field is actually a HUGE advantage for them over a game in Champaign.

Our record at Soldier Field is terrible and we really don't seem to draw that well to make it worthwhile, imo. Keep it as a week 0 game or move it to our first bye week IF Nebraska is off that week as well.
 
#7      
I still think the Dublin game just gets pushed back a year to 2022 - why not ?
Well, 2022 would be a Nebraska home game. 2023 is a possibility, if canceling isn't an option or would bring some big financial penalty.

To be clear, we should absolutely cancel if we can and shouldn't have given up a home game for this in the first place. As a Chicagoan I personally enjoy when we play at Soldier Field, but the DIA should ignore me and play all of its home games at MS.
 
#8      
Could Nebraska move Southeastern Louisiana to Week 1 and slot our game back in as originally scheduled? Who knows. It would probably be easiest for everybody to just play in Champaign on August 28, and if I were a betting man, that would be my prediction.

(I'm sure there is some thought that if the Covid situation has improved dramatically by, say, June, there might be massive interest in traveling to this game as so many people have been cooped up for over a year. So maybe they'll just play wait and see as long as they can.)
I'm kind of surprised it hasn't already been changed. With other conferences already announcing their official '21 schedules, I am assuming the B1G will follow suit shortly (unless they already have, and I missed it?). I'm guessing the game will be played at home on August 28. The next most likely scenario would be the change you mentioned, going back to the originally scheduled date. I have a hard time seeing it sticking in Ireland. You would assume vaccinations and everything would be going well by then, but after the Covid season, having the first college football game of the year being played overseas hits me as "not ideal."
 
#9      
Well, 2022 would be a Nebraska home game. 2023 is a possibility, if canceling isn't an option or would bring some big financial penalty.

To be clear, we should absolutely cancel if we can and shouldn't have given up a home game for this in the first place. As a Chicagoan I personally enjoy when we play at Soldier Field, but the DIA should ignore me and play all of its home games at MS.
I agree with this, but I still kinda think having the Northwestern game Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago makes sense. The combination of the rivalry, local fan bases, and holiday break with students not on campus makes me feel like that's the one neutral/Chicago game that makes sense. It would make even more sense if you can get Northwestern to move their home games in the series to a Chicago site, Some sort of rotation amongst Wrigley and Soldier.
 
#10      
Should win: Rutgers, Charlotte, Nebraska
Great chance to win: UTSA, Maryland
Toss ups: Penn State, Purdue
Upsets: Virginia, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota

As always with Illinois, they will upset someone one week and then mess the bed the next week against someone they should beat.

I think 5-7 is realistic. 7-5 is the ceiling. 4-8 is the floor.
 
#11      
I agree with this, but I still kinda think having the Northwestern game Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago makes sense. The combination of the rivalry, local fan bases, and holiday break with students not on campus makes me feel like that's the one neutral/Chicago game that makes sense. It would make even more sense if you can get Northwestern to move their home games in the series to a Chicago site, Some sort of rotation amongst Wrigley and Soldier.
My understanding is that the renovated Wrigley is less able to host football now, not more. The playing surface is slightly smaller having lost some foul territory and it's still surrounded by a brick wall.

It is my firm view that all college football games that are not bowls should be played on campus. (Red River Shootout, World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and Army/Navy get the only three exemptions) But even from just a leverage perspective, we have no reason to give up a home game to Northwestern to play in Chicago without them doing the same at the very least, and if anything we should just wait them out until they ask us to play in Chicago again, as they did with the Wrigley game. Northwestern needs the city more than we do.
 
#12      
My understanding is that the renovated Wrigley is less able to host football now, not more. The playing surface is slightly smaller having lost some foul territory and it's still surrounded by a brick wall.

It is my firm view that all college football games that are not bowls should be played on campus. (Red River Shootout, World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and Army/Navy get the only three exemptions) But even from just a leverage perspective, we have no reason to give up a home game to Northwestern to play in Chicago without them doing the same at the very least, and if anything we should just wait them out until they ask us to play in Chicago again, as they did with the Wrigley game. Northwestern needs the city more than we do.
You may be right about Wrigley. I know they moved more seats closer, but I thought they may have made some section reconfigurable to fit football games, concerts, etc better. I think there's some neutral site games that can work, maybe more so occasionally than regularly. Maybe it was just being so close to the Wrigley game, but that atmosphere topped anything I've seen Thanksgiving weekend in Champaign or Evanston. I think the Illinois/Chicago/Northwestern dynamic is just so different than pretty much anything out there. Normally a school as close to Chicago as Northwestern would have a huge advantage, but it's a small private school with a smaller following and Chicago is a giant pro city with good splits pretty much among all the large midwest school fanbases. So many students are going to be much closer to Chicago that weekend than to Champaign. I don't know. I just think it would really work. But you did hit on a big part. I think it only really makes sense if Northwestern is on board as well. It makes no sense to alternate Chicago/Evanston. Go all in on Chicago and alternate Wrigley/Soldier.
 
#13      
Maybe it was just being so close to the Wrigley game, but that atmosphere topped anything I've seen Thanksgiving weekend in Champaign or Evanston.
This is true, but when Cubit's Illini played Northwestern at Soldier Field, it was exactly like a Thanksgiving weekend in Champaign or Evanston.

Wrigley is unique. If it's possible to play there I would be tempted by a proposal to try it out for a 2 or 4 year cycle.
 
#14      
the ole ball coach
Milford
I was fairly sure that about 3-4 years ago NU & Wrigley entered into some exclusivity arrangement to lock us out and they were to do a Big Ten game there every other year when they had 5 home games. I do Wrigley was configured in the last renovation to better accommodate a football field again

.https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.insidenu.com/platform/amp/2019/5/27/18640840/northwestern-football-wrigley-field-ncaa-2020-wisconsin-illinois-ohio-state-pat-fitzgerald-big-ten
 
#15      
This is true, but when Cubit's Illini played Northwestern at Soldier Field, it was exactly like a Thanksgiving weekend in Champaign or Evanston.

Wrigley is unique. If it's possible to play there I would be tempted by a proposal to try it out for a 2 or 4 year cycle.
Given the lack of competitiveness from and fan interest in the Beckman / Cubit / Smith versions of the Illini, they may as well have booked Gately Stadium instead of Soldier Field and saved on the rent.
 
#16      
Should win: Rutgers, Charlotte, Nebraska
Great chance to win: UTSA, Maryland
Toss ups: Penn State, Purdue
Upsets: Virginia, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota

As always with Illinois, they will upset someone one week and then mess the bed the next week against someone they should beat.

I think 5-7 is realistic. 7-5 is the ceiling. 4-8 is the floor.
I have no idea what to think. I think that nobody on the schedule is great or completely unbeatable. I have no idea about Charlotte or UTSA but assume they should be relatively easy wins? I assume Penn State will be much improved, same with Wisconsin probably. I think 4 to 7 wins is fair. 7 would be incredible. 6 would be great. 5 would be good. 4 would be eh. 3 would be ummm....
 
#17      
Given the lack of competitiveness from and fan interest in the Beckman / Cubit / Smith versions of the Illini, they may as well have booked Gately Stadium instead of Soldier Field and saved on the rent.
Two games after that Northwestern game we had a sellout for the night game with UNC. In Champaign. Where our real fans are accustomed to going.

(It's such a cruel irony that that first big disappointment under Lovie which presaged what was to come was getting absolutely ripped apart by Mitch Trubisky)
 
#18      
Montgomery County, Maryland
I have no idea what to think. I think that nobody on the schedule is great or completely unbeatable. I have no idea about Charlotte or UTSA but assume they should be relatively easy wins? I assume Penn State will be much improved, same with Wisconsin probably. I think 4 to 7 wins is fair. 7 would be incredible. 6 would be great. 5 would be good. 4 would be eh. 3 would be ummm....
UTSA was 7-5 in 2020 good for 2nd in the CUSA West. That included a (surprisingly close?) 1 TD loss to BYU.
I wouldn't take this one for granted.
 
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#19      
the ole ball coach
Milford
UTSA was 7-5 in 2020 good for 2nd in the CUSA West. That included a (surprisingly close?) 1 TD loss to BYU.
I wouldn't take this one for granted.
totally agree . not a cupcake for us at this point in time by any means. teams like this can hang with anyone for the first half. how you play in the second half determines the outcome. They will give us all we can handle and so will Virginia.

We should not have issues beating Charlotte.
 
#20      
UTSA was 7-5 in 2020 good for 2nd on the CUSA West. That included a (surprisingly close?) 1 TD loss to BYU.
I wouldn't take this one for granted.
Especially if we're traveling home from Ireland that week.

The schedule has 0-3 written all over it, if we're being honest. Which would cause many to panic and start talking about playing the freshmen and long-form rebuilds and non-linear progress and the general black cloud of tanking logic that has poisoned sports. I very much hope (and expect) our actual coaching staff would not be among those this time.

Maybe we'll be good to start, maybe we won't, but either way just start chopping wood and don't stop until someone comes and takes the axe out of your hand. The galaxy brained swings of strategy we've done over the last 5 years were the product, above all else, of a lack of confidence in seeing any of them through.
 
#21      
Especially if we're traveling home from Ireland that week.

The schedule has 0-3 written all over it, if we're being honest. Which would cause many to panic and start talking about playing the freshmen and long-form rebuilds and non-linear progress and the general black cloud of tanking logic that has poisoned sports. I very much hope (and expect) our actual coaching staff would not be among those this time.

Maybe we'll be good to start, maybe we won't, but either way just start chopping wood and don't stop until someone comes and takes the axe out of your hand. The galaxy brained swings of strategy we've done over the last 5 years were the product, above all else, of a lack of confidence in seeing any of them through.
Along those lines, I think moving the Ireland game back home would be huge. The players are familiar with Nebraska. The coaches are completely new TO Nebraska. A good coaching staff, which I think we have, can definitely take advantage of that. Also it removes that whole travel/timezones/comfort variable for that game as well as the previous and following week of preparing/recovering.

Maybe I'm wrong and just getting old, but not having a bye week after international travel seems like a bit of an oversight when schedule making. I don't remember how the NFL had been doing it. Do they give those teams byes after the London games?
 
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#22      
I'm very interested to see the systems we employ next year. I think defensively it's going to be a 3-3-5. 3 DL (DE, NT, DT/DE), 1 EDGE LB, 2 ILBs, 5 DBs (guessing 1 will be a hybrid LB/S). I think the 2 deep for the front 6 can be somewhat figured out:
DE: Carney and Randolph
NT: Perry and Avery
DT/DE: Woods and Newton
EDGE: Coleman and Gay
ILBs: Tolson, Barnes, Cooper, Hart

I wonder about back 5.
S/LB: Derrick Smith? Maybe one of the LBs? 3rd corner Beason?
FS: Eddie Smith
SS: Brown
CB: Adams
CB: Witherspoon/Beason
 
#23      
3 DL (DE, NT, DT/DE), 1 EDGE LB, 2 ILBs, 5 DBs (guessing 1 will be a hybrid LB/S).

Soooooo...you mean a 4-2-5, just like all the other defenses.

It's not a question of "formation", since that is dictated by what the offense lines up with anyway. The big questions are how much man vs zone, one gap vs two gap line play, and how often and how heavily you blitz.

Our defense under Lovie (especially once he took over the DC role) relied heavily on playing coverage and relying on LB's to cover in space, which we had neither the talent nor coaching to accomplish and was a constant disaster, not least of which because our safeties weren't any good at closing down that space either. We made it so easy for so many bad quarterbacks on so many critical drives and plays.

Let's not do that.
 
#24      
I'm very interested to see the systems we employ next year. I think defensively it's going to be a 3-3-5. 3 DL (DE, NT, DT/DE), 1 EDGE LB, 2 ILBs, 5 DBs (guessing 1 will be a hybrid LB/S). I think the 2 deep for the front 6 can be somewhat figured out:
DE: Carney and Randolph
NT: Perry and Avery
DT/DE: Woods and Newton
EDGE: Coleman and Gay
ILBs: Tolson, Barnes, Cooper, Hart

I wonder about back 5.
S/LB: Derrick Smith? Maybe one of the LBs? 3rd corner Beason?
FS: Eddie Smith
SS: Brown
CB: Adams
CB: Witherspoon/Beason
Derrick Smith is definitely a ideal hybrid LB/S and could see Walters deploying a 4-2 or 3-4 scheme with a hybrid flyer role.

Love the versatility we potentially have at D-Line

I am hoping that this coaching staff commits to a player's position and develops him at the position rather them moving him around (i.e. Adams)
 
#25      
Soooooo...you mean a 4-2-5, just like all the other defenses.

It's not a question of "formation", since that is dictated by what the offense lines up with anyway. The big questions are how much man vs zone, one gap vs two gap line play, and how often and how heavily you blitz.

Our defense under Lovie (especially once he took over the DC role) relied heavily on playing coverage and relying on LB's to cover in space, which we had neither the talent nor coaching to accomplish and was a constant disaster, not least of which because our safeties weren't any good at closing down that space either. We made it so easy for so many bad quarterbacks on so many critical drives and plays.

Let's not do that.
I wouldn't get hung up on what it's called. I'd take the fact that there is a OLB coach (and he talked about the players he hopes to bring in and work with) as evidence that we're going the Edge pass-rusher/LB route. I think the defense it going to look vastly different from the Lovie scheme, especially pre-snap. My 2 cents: I gotta believe we'll stunt, blitz, press, and vary coverages far more often than we did in the Lovie years.