3. Running back rotation
Illinois needs good quarterback play. We can’t be a one-dimensional program or that will hurt us moving forward. But when it is all said and done, we butter our bread with the running game.
Last season, we got to see the emergence of one of the best running back duos in the college game. Chase Brown led the way with 1,005 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. True freshman Josh McCray was the thunder to Brown’s lightning with 549 yards and two touchdowns.
I think these two are going to have another big year. They should eclipse their combined 1,554 rushing yards from last season, but they might be joined by some other talented running backs we have on the depth chart.
In the great reporting by FightingIllini.com reporter Jackson Janes, Illinois fans got a little glimpse of what is happening in training camp and with the first scrimmage. One of the things that Janes reported that piqued my interest was the running back situation.
I think it is clear Brown is going to be the lead back with McCray as the No. 2 option, but no one is sure how the rest of the depth chart will look and what percentage of touches they will get. Well, we got a little better picture of that with Janes’ reporting.
It looks like Reggie Love III is really starting to come on strong. He was such a talented player coming out of high school, so I am happy to see him starting to develop. It looks like Chase Hayden also did well in the scrimmage. Bret Bielema ended up breaking down what he saw out of his running backs.
"“Josh … looked really good,” Bielema said. “Reggie Love had a really, really good day. He came in and had a meeting with me the other day, and I could tell his confidence was trending in the right direction. Chase Hayden made a nice couple of explosive runs, so really excited about that running back room, what they can bring.”"
So, with that being said, the running back room is loaded with talent. We know what we are getting with our two top stars, but the depth at running back looks to be insane. Illinois has one of the strongest offenses I have seen in years. Let’s put some points on the board.