College Football News Preview 2020: Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Illinois Fighting Illini Offense
Establish the run again. The 2018 Illinois running game worked. It came up with over 2,900 yards, averaged close to six yards per carry, and it found a groove from the start with 200 yards or more in nine of the first ten games.
That was the only time in the last eight years that the program ran for 1,900 yards or more.
The 1,874 yards Illinois ran for last season were the second-most in a season since 2011, but it was still ugly. There were four 200-yard rushing days – the Illini won three of them – with the shootout loss to Nebraska the only time the ground game averaged over five yards per pop.
The offensive line is better, but the running backs have to emerge in a hurry. Statistically, the pass protection has to be there, too, with the numbers depending a bit on who takes the quarterback gig.
And on the defensive side …
Biggest Key To The Illinois Fighting Illini Defense
Stop the run. Lost a bit in the shocking win over Wisconsin was the job done all day by the Illini D, holding Jonathan Taylor and company to just 156 yards on the ground.
Illinois needed an epic comeback against Michigan State – getting gouged for 275 yards on the ground – and went 1-4 on the season when allowing 200 rushing yards ore more. Since beating Rutgers in the middle of the 2016 season, Illinois is 1-22 when giving up two bills.
Fortunately, Nebraska is the only team on the first half of the slate that has any semblance of a ground game.
Key Illinois Fighting Illini Player To A Successful Season
RB Reggie Love, Fr.
No pressure or anything, kid, but come right in and take over the Illinois ground game right away.
The O line should be solid, the quarterback will be good – no matter who it is – and the receiving corps should be a positive. However, with Reggie Corbin and Dre Brown done, the offense needs a spark in the backfield.
Love was a four-star get out of St. Louis who had an okay high school career, but nothing amazing. However, he’s a 5-10, 195-pound flash who needs to bring a home run-hitting element to the Illini attack.
Key Game To The Illinois Fighting Illini Season
at Nebraska, Oct. 10
Could Illinois be this year’s Minnesota, and start out huge with a light schedule to build up a great record before the big battles kick in?
Unless there’s a total clunker early on, the Illini should be 4-0 before going to Nebraska. They lost four straight to the Huskers, and are 1-10-1 in the series since they last won in Lincoln … in 1924. Win, and with Purdue up next, 6-0 is very, very possible before facing Minnesota.
– Illinois Fighting Illini Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Illinois Fighting Illini Fun Stats
– Sacks: Opponents 39 for 288 yards – Illinois 25 for 140 yards
– Time of Possession: Opponents 33:58 – Illinois 26:02
– Penalties: Illinois 87 for 797 yards – Opponents 57 for 464 yards