College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Illinois season with what you need to know.
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players | Keys To The Season
– What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
– Illinois Schedule Analysis
– Illinois Fighting Illini Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Illinois Fighting Illini College Football Preview 2021: Offense
– What’s the Illinois offense going to be under new head man Bret Bielema? Will he try to make it the Champaign version of Wisconsin? Bielema would love to create a pounding attack that controls games, but that’s not going to be the Illini early on. There’s plenty of work to do for an O that averaged just 349 yards and 20 points per game.
Offensive coordinator Tony Petersen is a veteran who’s about getting the passing attack going and coaching up quarterbacks, and …
– The Illinois quarterback situation is a plus. Brandon Peters only seems like he’s in his 14th year of college football, but the 6-5, 220-pound former Michigan transfer has the passing ability to ease the new coaching staff into the first year.
Third-year freshman Isaiah Williams was a super-recruit for the program who finished second on the team in rushing, but he struggled way too much with his accuracy when he got his shot – now he’s listed as a wide receiver. On the way is Artur Sitkowski from Rutgers to make things even more interesting, but he’s likely an option for next year.
There’s an exodus of wide receivers from the program, and there’s going to be an overhaul.
Leading target Josh Imatorbhebhe is a Jacksonville Jaguar, his brother – tight end Daniel Imatobhebehe – left for Kansas State, fourth-leading receiver Casey Washington is on Wake Forest, and 2018 top target Ricky Smalling is in the transfer portal, too.
However, 6-3, 210-pound former Miami transfer Brian Hightower has the size and deep ability to grow into a No. 1 target. 6-4, 250-pound junior TE Daniel Barker was second on the team with 19 catches for 268 yards and two scores, and in comes WR Jafar Armstrong from Notre Dame to potentially make a big splash right away. Throw in former Georgia transfer TE Luke Ford, and there’s sneaky-good talent here.
– The offensive line loses Kendrick Green to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but everyone else is expected to be back on a veteran front full of super-seniors. There isn’t a star like Green – 6-6, 320-pound senior OT Veteran Lowe will be a factor – but there are a whole lot of options to play around with.
It’s a Bret Bielema offense – the running game is going to work.
Chase Brown is a slippery 5-11, 200-pound former transfer from Western Michigan who ran for a team-high 540 yards and three scores, and Mike Epstein is a good veteran who averaged over five yards per carry and led the team with four scores. Chase Hayden was a nice get from East Carolina for the rotation, and 5-11, 190-pound Reggie Love can move.