Illinois Fighting Illini Football Season Preview History
2011 Illinois Football Preview:
Illinois navigated its way to a 7-6 record last year, a season that was characterized by inconsistency. Despite talented players on both sides of the ball, the team often had trouble finishing games and lost a lot of close contests. This year, the Illini will have to make up for some key losses, but have the talent to contend in the Big Ten.
Perhaps the biggest loss is running back Mikel LeShoure, who ranked fifth in the nation and second in the conference in rushing yards per game last season. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will carry much of the load and will have to improve on his freshman campaign, but he certainly has the tools to do so. There's still the question of who will run the ball, and all signs point to either the rough-and-trouble Jason Ford or the unproven Bud Golden.
The defense will also be reeling from the loss of a few key players on last year's squad, but much like the offense, there is a lot of talent waiting in the wings. Specifically, head coach Ron Zook will look to Michael Buchanan and Akeem Spence, both of whom had stellar years last year.
2010 Illinois Football Preview:
Heading into the season, Illinois coach Ron Zook finds himself in the hot seat. After the Fighting Illini had a dismal 3-9 season, Zook assembled a new coaching staff highlighted by offensive coordinator Paul Petrino.
Zook and Petrino will have their hands full when it comes to the offense, as they will be working with a pair of inexperienced quarterbacks in sophomore Jacob Charest and redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase, who are vying for the starting job. Early indications point to the fleet-footed Scheelhaase as the leading candidate for starting Illinios' opener against rival Missouri, but Charest could quickly replace him if he does not produce.
The offense's success will largely hinge on the production of junior running back Mikel LeShoure. LeShoure was the team's leading rusher in 2009 and averaged a robust 6.8 yards a carry. The Fighting Illini have a pair of receivers in Jarred Fayson and A.J. Jenkins who, although formerly unproductive, have big play potential. Defensively, Illinois returns a lot of their starters from last year. However, thes secondary is still young and could surrender a lot of completions as they did last year.
The schedule will make it difficult for Illionios to improve from last year as they have to travel to Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Northwestern.
2009 Illinois Football Preview:
Head Coach: Ron Zook
The 2009 Illinois Fighting Illini should be one of the better football teams in the Big 10 Conference. Illini Head Coach Ron Zook has accumulated a deep pool of blue chip talent in Champaign, which he will unleash upon his conference foes this season. If Illinois can get their offense rolling, with all of the talented playmakers on their roster, then watch out for the Fighting Illini in 2009.
2008 Illinois Football Preview:
Head Coach: Ron Zook
The Illinois Fighting Illini football program has proven itself in recent years to be a real contender for Big Ten and BCS glory. A 2007 trip to the Rose Bowl is proof that head coach Ron Zook has the team headed in the right direction. The Illini beat both Ohio State and Wisconsin, both teams in the top 5, and their archrival Northwestern in 2007, making it one of their most successful seasons in years. Memorial Stadium will be teeming with fans this season as the Illini strive for a Conference title and maybe a shot at the National Championship.