To an extent, I understand why he ranked Lunt where he did, and maybe my view is skewed as I peer out through orange and blue colored glasses, but I just can’t agree with his assessment after seeing last year’s offense in action.
It seems Mr. Collins is underestimating the type of season that Lunt is about to turn in because he isn’t sure Lunt will even win the job, and if he does then he seems to think that Lunt won’t do much passing once he’s handed the reins.
For those who have followed the Illinois Football program closely, all signs are pointing to Wes Lunt winning the starting QB job. He is the prototypical pocket passer, and those types excel in Coach Bill Cubit’s offense. Heck, even a QB who didn’t exactly fit the mold excelled in Cubit’s offense as Nathan Scheelhaase led the Big Ten Conference with 3,272 yards while converting 66.7% of his 430 passing attempts during Cubit’s first year as offensive coordinator.
No, all those yards didn’t lead to enough wins for bowl eligibility, but what they did lead to was a vastly improved offense, and in turn a much better Illinois football team. They won their first Big Ten game in two seasons, a road win no less, and they appear poised to take the next step as a program this season despite losing Scheelhaase to graduation.
Collins is certainly entitled to his opinion, but where I feel he misses the mark is when he assumes that the Illini are going to try to focus on running the ball when he stated:
“Illinois will probably focus on running the ball, if they can even do that, so the pass attempts for whoever the starter may be will be limited.”
A Bill Cubit led offense is going to throw the ball, and they are going to throw the ball all over the field without hesitance. If anything, they will throw the ball just to set up the run.
Don’t believe me? Check the final statistical standings from last season.
Illinois was second in the Big Ten with 455 pass attempts, and they were eleventh in the Big Ten with 411 rush attempts. Fairly balanced, but still more pass oriented than rush oriented.
Throughout Cubit’s career his offenses have always slanted more towards the pass than the rush. So, I highly doubt Cubit’s philosophy will change heading in to this upcoming season.
Do I believe Wes Lunt will finish as the best passer in the Big Ten this season, just as Scheelhaase did a year ago? Probably not, but I do feel that there is reason to believe he will be much closer to the top third of the conference’s final statistical rankings than the bottom third when it’s all said and done.