As we inch closer to the 2013 football season, their are quite a few concerns for arguably the worst team in the Big Ten. Here are five concerns for the Fighting Illini entering Fall Camp.
1) Tim Beckman
Recently, we here at Writing Illini posted a roundtable about how important 2013 is for Tim Beckman. Yes, he has only been with the Illini for one full season, but Illinois fans are sick and tired of losing. So far this offseason, Beckman has done some good things. One being bringing in Bill Cubit to be the offensive coordinator. Another being recruiting Wes Lunt to the Fighting Illini. However, those moves do not automatically win you games in college football. Beckman will be under a microscope this season and Illinois fans need to see a winning atmosphere right out of the gate during Fall camp.
2) Nathan Scheelhaase
With the arrival of Wes Lunt to the Illinois Fighting Illini, many fans (myself included) are already looking to 2014 before this season has even started. Scheelhaase needs to give us something to cheer about offensively in 2013. Yes, there are many questions about him and about whether or not he will get into the NFL as a quarterback, and they need to be answered this season. Scheelhaase needs to do that by working closely with new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. Cubit can help Nathan just like he has helped many different quarterbacks in the MAC. With a good camp and a good season with Cubit, Scheelhaase can help himself while giving Illini fans hope about what to expect from Cubit and Lunt in 2014.
3) Linebacking Leadership
In my opinion, the biggest leader for the Illini’s linebacking core in 2012 was Michael Buchanan. Where is he now? He is in New England playing in the NFL. Just like when Whitney Mercilus left for the NFL, the next man on Illinois needs to step up during Fall camp. Who needs to step up as the linebacking leader? That man would be Jonathan Brown. As he enters his senior season, Brown needs to be the anchor for all the Illinois linebackers. He also needs to take Mason Monheim under his wing in 2013. Leadership among the linebackers might be a concern coming into this Fall camp, but Illinois has the chance to set up their leadership in the linebacking core for future years to come.
4) Finding an Offensive Identity
There is a new offensive coordinator in town and what does that mean? That mans there needs to be a new offensive identity set up for the Fighting Illini. Bill Cubit comes into Illinois with the rep that he makes quarterbacks better with his system. Last season, Western Michigan averaged 289.8 passing yards per game which is about 120 more yards per game than Illinois. Illinois will need to find this offensive identity during Fall camp because it will be a rough season if the Illini are struggling with this by the time their conference schedule rolls around.
Illinois has begun using the new slogan, “Our State, Our Team.”. Beckman has talked about his recruiting philosophy about targeting in-state recruits. This also goes back to Beckman, but he will need to recruit his guys if he wants to keep his job. This season’s goal is clear with the hiring of Bill Cubit and that is forming the offense he (Beckman) wants to run. Now comes the part where you form the parts to run this offense. Wes Lunt was a start, but who is going to play with him? I personally love the in-state recruiting philosophy by Beckman, but we’ll see how the class for Illinois is when its all said and done. You might be thinking, how is this a concern going into Fall camp? It is a concern going into Fall camp because Beckman has time to recruit right now. Come Fall camp, Beckman might not have as much time to recruit as he does at this very moment.
What do you think, Illini Nation? What is Illinois’ biggest concern heading into Fall Camp?
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