Illinois 2010

Illinois (2009 Statistics)

  • This team has had exactly one winning season under Ron Zook (now in his 6th year as head coach).  In 2007 the Fighting Illini went 9-4 and found themselves in the ROSE BOWL, where they struggled against USC and lost 49-17.  But at least they were there (and I was there) with Rashard Mendenhall running the ball (he is currently playing in the NFL for Pittsburgh), Juice Williams at Quarterback and J Lehman on defense.  That identity is now completely gone due to graduation and the NFL Draft. 
  • In recent years the offense has struggled.  Juice was a runner, not a thrower.  Although he did lead the Big Ten in passing in 2008 when Illinois actually passed for more yards than they ran for, but their record declined to 5-7 that year.  Illinois returned to its rushing roots in 2009 and they declined even more to 3-9.  No matter what this team does, there isn’t a simple answer. 
  • Arrelious Benn was supposed to be one of those answers, but last year with injuries and an unclear Quarterback, his numbers decreased to just under 500 yards receiving and 2 Touchdowns.  He’s gone this year (playing in the NFL for Tampa Bay).
  • The new Quarterback is Redshirt Freshman Nathan Scheelhaase and despite the lack of experience, the bar set last year is very low.  A 55.6% completion percentage and a 15-12 touchdown to interception ratio should not be a hard one for him to hit.
  • Defense really needs to improve for this team to succeed.  They were near or at the bottom of the Big Ten and actually the country in the critical categories (Scoring, Total, Passing) on defense.  There’s a new Defensive Coordinator this year (Vic Koenning).
  • There’s also a new Offensive Coordinator in Paul Petrino (brother of Arkansas Head Coach Bobby Petrino).  Zook was forced to make changes to save his job this year and has six new assistants/coordinators.