Matt Daniels with you for another weekly chat.
Plenty to discuss as Illinois football training camp is in its second week under Lovie Smith. The team is slated for practice to start in roughly a half hour on the grass practice field on the east side of Memorial Stadium.
Some interesting news developed on Wednesday with the departure of quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald from the Illini. The Champaign native and former Centennial standout never played in a game at Illinois, redshirting last season, but was thought to possibly be in the mix to start in 2017 once Wes Lunt departs.
No word yet on where Fitzgerald might end up transferring or if he'll play in 2016 considering the season starts in three weeks. We'll keep tabs on it, though.
Let's get to any questions out there.
Why is Lovie electing to practice 25 26 times, 3 under the allowable 29 football practices for this pre season training camp? Have there been any studies showing any difference in game performance of those teams who max out the number of allowable practices versus those who did slightly less than the allowable number of practices?
With the NFL style 'camps', I suppose it does not much as much difference as long as the players are optimally soaking up the information gained and applied from the meetings they attend to outside of practices.
Lovie Smith wanted to give the players the day off on Wednesday from practice, although meetings were ongoing at Memorial Stadium.
This staff has put a big emphasis on what the Illini are able to accomplish watching film and meeting with their position groups. Practices are shorter than in the past, but they are done at a crisp pace with a high level of instruction emphasized.
I don't think there are any known studies out there about the difference in Cheap World Cup Jerseys | Wholesale Jerseys Store game performance on teams who use all 29 practice times compared to not using all of them. The big key for Smith and the Illini, along with every other college football program, is to get through August unscathed when it comes to injuries to key starters.
It's a talking point wholesale nhl jerseys in August, but, once the season rolls around, I think many people will be hard pressed to remember that Illinois did not practice the second Wednesday in August.
If Jordan Goodwin picks Saint Louis as his college, I think many people, myself included, would be pretty surprised.
Illinois appears to be in good shape with the Belleville Althoff standout's recruitment, but coaches (and fans alike) can never be sure until the athlete signs a letter of intent with their wholesale pro bowl jerseys program. That's the joys and despair that comes with college recruiting.
With six scholarships available, the big question at the moment for the 2017 class is whether Illinois uses all six to fill out this class or rolls one over to help with the 2018 class. Landing Goodwin is a huge priority for Illinois, who have been in on the versatile playmaker and 2016 News Gazette All State Player of the Year for some time.
Whatever Goodwin decides will have an influence on how the 2017 class ends up for Illinois. With him on board, it's easily John Groce's best class since arriving at Illinois. Without him, it's still a really good class at the moment, but Goodwin is the one player who could really vault Illinois over the top given all the superb qualities he brings with him to the court.
The IlliniHQ football yearbooks are available at our downtown office here in Champaign. It's 100 pages chock full of information on Lovie Smith and the Illini and only $5.
If you need us to mail you one, feel free to contact our Customer Care Center at 217 351 5252. I know they will also be available at various retail stores in the area, but I don't have the full list handy right now.
We sure hope you pick one up and enjoy the product. I know myself and my staff had a good time putting it together and are already starting on the Illinois basketball yearbook for the upcoming season.
Lovie Smith said it was the perfect time to do so, particularly after Illinois went through six straight days worth of practices.
Monday was the first one in full pads, and there were a few defensive linemen who were bothered by injuries. Depth is lacking for Illinois at several position groups, so getting through August healthy is a primary goal before Murray State visits on Sept. 3.
It wasn't like Illinois had a complete off day on Wednesday, though, with meetings and film work still taking place. Smith said on Monday that training camp is no fun and it's a grind. Giving the players a day off from practicing can help players recover and get through the grind that is August.
Illinois is slated to have 9 practices in the next 10 days before training camp concludes on Aug. 20, with Sunday being the team's media day and no practices planned.
If Illinois makes it to a bowl game in 2016, that would constitute a surprise, so I don't see the Illini making their way onto a list of top five surprising teams across the country.
Adjusting to a new defensive and offensive philosophy takes time, and if Illinois has more players suffer injuries, like Mikey Dudek and Dre Brown in the spring, then its depth will be tested, and that's not necessarily a good thing.
A bowl trip, to me, is the peak of where this team can go at the moment. The schedule is pretty stacked and teams adjusting to new schemes and coaches in the first season, especially for a program like Illinois that has not consistently won in the past 25 years, take a while to instantly become a perennial bowl contender.
Looking at one team from each of the Power 5 conferences, I'd go with Georgia Tech out of the ACC to right themselves after a woeful 2015 season. Same for Texas in the Big 12. With as much talent as Charlie Strong has down in Austin, three straight losing seasons is almost unheard of.
In the Big Ten, Nebraska has a chance to possibly hit the 10 win mark. It helps the Cornhuskers with no Michigan and Michigan State on the schedule, and some of those close losses they suffered last year have to go the other way this year, right?
Looking at the Pac 12, Washington has yet to deliver a dynamic season with Chris Petersen in charge, but it seems things are shaping up in Seattle to possibly contend for a Pac 12 title this season.