Illinois Football: Preview of the Illini offense against Nebraska

The new Illinois football coaching staff gets their first look at what they have on offense this weekend against Nebraska.

During the past couple of coaching eras, the Illini have failed to gain much traction when it came to offense. Struggles at quarterback were the biggest issue, but we also failed at building much depth. The hope is that the new coaching staff, led by Bret Bielema, will change things.

Here is what to expect from the Illinois football offense against Nebraska.

  • Strengths

I would argue that the game against the Cornhuskers last season was one of the best offensive games the Illini had under Lovie Smith. Things seemed to click well.

The main strength for the Illini this season would be the running attack. Illinois amassed 285 yards and 4 touchdowns on 52 carries last season in the win over Nebraska. Everyone who rushed the ball, including punter Blake Hayes, is back with the program. The fact Illinois had two 100-yard rushers in the game gives me great hope we can duplicate that performance in 2021.

It would be hard not to mention Brandon Peters as well. The game last season against Nebraska was one of the few he had a chance to play in for the Illini. Peters performed efficiently with a 72% completion percentage to go along with his 205 yards and 1 touchdown. Illinois’ offensive attack was potent.

  • Weaknesses

Honestly, there aren’t a lot of weaknesses coming into the game against Nebraska. I would probably say the wide receiver situation is the weakness as of right now.

Josh Imatorbhebhe led the Illini last season with 71 yards and 1 touchdown, and he has since departed the program. Losing our top wide receiver hurts, but I also believe others will step up like Casey Washington and Brian Hightower.

  • Injuries

There aren’t a ton of injuries that will impact the Illini for the Nebraska game on Saturday. Jordyn Slaughter is going to be out for a while with a broken foot. Illinois will also be without Marquez Beason for the game. He switched from defensive back to wide receiver, but his first game out wide will be a week or two from Saturday.

  • Confidence

Overall, I am pretty confident in the Illinois offense heading into week zero. While we finished 2-6 last season, people need to remember that we had four different starting quarterbacks thanks to COVID and injuries. That shouldn’t be the case this season.

Against Nebraska, I have a confidence of 9 out of 10. Illinois has the firepower returning to do some serious damage. I would be shocked if we didn’t score at least 40 points once again.