What's up with the ice cream? And loud music? And the coach in the tub full of ice? Ask N-G college football beat writer Bob Asmussen about the Illinois training camp — which is full of twists and turns.
Welcome back to the last Camp Rantoul chat of 2012. Sadly.
Thanks for your participation. I really appreciate the smart questions that we get every day. You folks know your stuff. Without your thoughts, we would have never known that Tim Kynard has an Olympic medalist in the family. That was big time.
Before I get to the questions on the list, Jim Mooberry sent me one by email. He wants to know: "Why is it better for the offensive line for both Thornton and Pocic to be on the left side? I can understand why you would want one of them at LT but moving bothof them over there leaves the right side short on experience. New C, new RG and lightly used RT."
Great question from Jim. With a right-handed quarterback, one of your top priorities is to protect his blind side. The coaches must have felt that having Thornton and Pocic on the same side would give them better protection for Scheelhaase. It sounds like Graham can jump to the other side easily and maybe that will happen. Right now, it seems like the coaches are looking for the right combination in the right spots. It seems that Simon Cvijanovic and Ted Karras have fallen behind a little bit. Not sure why that is.
Great job Jim, now off to the rest of the questions.
How is Henry Dickinson looking so far?
Henry is having a very, very good camp. He's got good size and athleticism. And he seems to have a great instinct toward the ball.
He is pushing Houston Bates for one of the starting spots. Starter or not, he is going to play a lot this season. And a year from now, if Jonathan Brown leaves early as expected, his role becomes even bigger.
The freshman linebackers are playing well, which adds to the depth at the position. What could have been an area of concern for Illinois going into the season now seems like a strength. And Dickinson is a big part of that.
I find the stripe thing very interesting! It seems in the early going Beckman and crew are really making a culture change, what are your thoughts?
Any luck on the helmet? I love the sticker idea!
Did Bellamy have anything to do with the former Pro/ILLINI being at camp?
Will they be bringing in former ILLINI each week during the season to give a pre game speech and hob nob with donors?
Thx for the great coverage!
I think Tim Beckman is continuing to run a program the way he did in the past. He is obviously big into competition in every thing they do. That seems like a good idea for a football team. Because of the way Beckman operates, there is a culture change going on. But, as it was pointed out to me today, everybody plays along when things are going well. What happens if there is a little adversity? That's when you fill find out a lot about the team and the program.
It sounds like there is a conflict on the whole helmet deal. Mike Thomas wants to wait a year to bring in new helmets and uniforms together. That makes good sense to me. But coaches aren't known for their patience. They want it yesterday. I'm not sure how it will play out. I'm going to keep asking about the helmets.
Mike Bellamy is going to have a major influence on former players coming to campus. Each week, a former player will be invited to talk to the team and hang out for the weekend. It really sounds like a great idea and I'm looking forward to seeing the guys. I started covering the team in 1989, so I will have interviewed most of them in the past. It will be a lot of fun to catch up with them. I've written this before, but hiring Mike Bellamy was a good idea for Illinois.
Bob after watching this morning have they let them go with contact or not due to lack of depth? What do you think the staff is not showing ya'll until they get to their closed practice site? Also I was curious of all the work it takes getting camp ready and also getting everything back to Champaign. It would be an interesing article in the future possibly. Thanks, Stump-Tupelo,MS>
I would describe it as controlled contact. They don't want the linebackers and linemen and defensive backs to blow up the receivers and running backs. But they do want them tackled. So, you will see initial contact, then the defender will let up. The exception to that, of course, is with the quarterbacks, except for Miles Osei, who they can hit.
We are not seeing a lot of the offense. Specifically, plays they will use early in the season against Western Michigan, Arizona State, etc. And I think the personnel groupings have been shown in limited portions. We haven't seen Terry Hawthorne or Justin Green on offense and I think that is coming. And we haven't seen Ryan Lankford punting, which figures to be a part of the special teams.
I understand the need to be secretive in football, but I hope after this year, the access improves. I don't think there were any Western Michigan scouts at Camp Rantoul.
Great idea about what it takes to put the camp together. Trent Chesnut and his people do a great job. He is probably the MVP of Camp Rantoul.
How are the skilled players adjusting to the spread offense in place under the regime? What kind of spread is Beckman's system? I have seen comments that they aren't huddling, but will be going with a look-to-coaches audible system? I know the fans just love those delay of game penalties (when we never even huddle!!). Anybody’s system that we can compare the new offense to besides Toledo?
On a side note, how is Prosch catching on at Auburn, I am going to miss his physical blocking, and I think the tailbacks will as well.
We have not seen the full offense in Camp Rantoul. Bits and pieces of it. Nathan Scheelhaase said it reminds him a lot of the system used by Mike Locklsey. That's the offense he was recruited to play and I think it suits him well. I think the tempo will be very fast and I doubt you will see many delay penalties. Do you remember Juice Williams used to look like he was rolling dice? That was awesome.
The receivers love the spread. It should give them more opportunities to catch passes in open space. And the running game should work well with the players on hand, especially Josh Ferguson.
I will check on Jay and get back to you, hopefully later in the chat. If not today, then in Monday's chat.
Read comments by some PSU players and various columnists grilling the Illini regarding Nowicki coming here and Illinois tactics showing up at PSU. In truth weren't there alot of schools doing the same thing? Also at the Big Ten meetings in Chicago wasn't Urban Meyer talking out of both sides of his mouth saying he had a problem with a school showing up at PSU after poaching recruits from Wisconsin,MSU, and PSU last spring? Also seems like LB will be a deep position for us, but what about RB, anybody looking to breakout and become a go to player?
I do think the Penn State deal got blown out of proportion. I think Bill O'Brien could have made it better by naming all of the schools that were there. And there were plenty.
Urban Meyer does seem to have a double standard when it comes to taking players from other schools. He isn't the only coach in the country like that, bu the way. Bottom liine for a coach, if you can get a player you get him.
I think all of the freshman running backs can play and I think all will have a chance. Hard to tell which one is ahead. It looks like Devin Church and Dami Ayoola will be return candidates.
Looking at the season with Orange sunglasses and glass half-full attitude. The Special
Teams have to be better, not possible to be worse really. Defense should be really
good, maybe a little better. IF the Offense can move the ball and just be ordinary, it
seems there are 7 or 8 wins on the schedule. Also, gameday coaching will be
improved without a doubt too. Crazy??
It's funny, but I thinik Tim Beckman actually wears orange-tinted sunglasses. And he is definitely a glass-half full kind of guy.
No question, the special teams will be improved. They are better right now across the board than they were at any point last season. Of course, losing Derek Dimke is a big deal. None of the kickers is close to as good as he was. So, Illinois needs to make up for that in other ways, like with returns and blocks and better coverage.
I think the defense has a chance to be as good as last year, which was very good. Lots of experience and talent. Depth at a couple spots will be the biggest issue, though less of a problem than I first thought.
I really don't know what to think of the offense. There are good pieces there. But the line is a work in progress and the receivers need to make some gains between now and the opener. But Jon Davis is going to be the next big thing at Illinois.
I think seven or eight wins is possible. If it all breaks right, Illinois can win 10. But it can also lose eight. I think we will all have a much better idea after the first two games. The trip to Arizona State is far from a lock for Illinois.
I'm going to cut it off tor today. Thanks for all of your great questions. You can hit me up again on Monday.
We've got a nice story in Sunday's paper on Terry Hawthorne. Not sure when it will be on HQ, but keep a lookout. I think he is ready for a big senior season.