As we enter into the Big T1e1n Season, we’re doing a little Q&A with our fellow conference bloggers. This time, the guys at Hail to the Orange drop a little knowledge on us; they also checked in with the team at Inside the Shoe earlier. Here we go:
How do you feel about your upcoming run of games including #2 Ohio State, at #23 Penn State and at #25 Michigan State? After the non-conference schedule, where do you see Illinois finishing within the Big T1e1n? What kind of record would be “satisfying” at the end of the season, given the schedule?
6-6 and a bowl is all I really want out of this year, wins against the bottom half of the league in Minnesota, Purdue, and Indiana should get us there with a win thrown in against either Fresno or Northwestern. That is all I can really expect out of this team I think, young at the skill positions and probably a year away from a very good year.
How happy have you been with the play of Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase? Has the offense improved or regressed with him replacing Juice Williams? If we switched QB’s where would you think Illinois be ranked and where would Ohio State be ranked?
Terrelle Pryor is a Heisman level QB and Nathan Scheelhaase is a RS freshman who is just now seeing his first action. If roles were reversed you would probably do what we are doing, give the ball to the RBs 40+ times a game and only really rely on your passing game if you have to. If we had Terrelle, well I would be awfully curious to see what a Petrino coached offense could do with a player like him.
What strengths do you think Illinois has that gives them the best chance of winning on Saturday? There’s been some buzz about the way the Illini defense is playing this year- What’s your take on what’s made a difference?
Coaching fundamentals, proper tackling, plugging your gap and not getting fooled by fakes. The players aren’t caught out of position near as much and when they tackle they actually bring them to the ground with the first hit. After what I have seen the last two seasons, this is a serious improvement, all though not particularly earth shattering. If the Illini win it will be because they had a spectacular day running the ball, they managed to get some very fortunate turnovers, and did not allow themselves to be beaten by big plays. Unfortunately this scenario is admittedly unlikely.
What’s the general feeling about Ron Zook around campus?
Ignored. Zook’s star has fallen and basketball is once again what people are talking about year round. Get this team back to a bowl and we will see if that changes or not.
Are you excited about the 2012 conference divisions? Relieved not to lose the hallowed Illibuck rivalry game?
I do love the Illibuck perhaps my favorite college trophy, but I am disappointed that Iowa will now be off the schedule most years, and that we will have to wait a long time to play Nebraska. Overall though, Delany pretty much proved why he is a straight up genius again.