Ask Illinois football beat writer Bob Asmussen about Tim Beckman's team.
Welcome back to another chat. I'm going to get started a few minutes early, then take a short break at 1. Hope that is OK with everybody.
The season is just around the corner. I can't wait. Sorry if I have written that before.
Let's get to the questions.
According to Coach Beatty, he will primarily be handling the play-calling from the booth. Will either he or Coach Gonzales be able to override one another or do we expect that to flip-flop based on situations?
I think there is always give and take between the coaches during the game. And don't forget that Tim Beckman can chime in, too.
The coaches talk about a gameplan from the start of the week. They pick out plays and formations they think will work the best. They make adjustments leading all the way up to kickoff.
My guess on the playcalling, given that they share the title, is that they each have a strong say. If one really hates a call, I'm sure he can and will talk the other out of it.
It would be great to be at the other end of the headset during the game, though we would understand about one-third of what they were saying.
You should do a story on Kameno Bell's Super Bowl ring, team physician of NY Giants.
That's a good idea. Kameno, I mean Dr. Bell, was a great guy to deal with during his playing days. Always very friendly and you knew he was going to do something big with his life.
It's interesting that he joined an NFL team and makes a ton of sense.
Bob, just wanted to follow up on a previous question. Did you have any time to research and write an article yet on the jobs that Trent Chesnut and his Student Managers perform in getting the fields and equipment ready for the Coaches and players on a daily basis? I think it would be enlightening to read about the preparations that are made, how the Student Managers are assigned to the different Coaches, and any interesting stories the Managers have about memorable games or practices. I think the fans don't realize the time committments that are made by the Student Managers, and they deserve some recognition too! Please tell us we can definitely look forward to this article before the season begins!
I have a great appreciation for the work done by Trent and his staff. I haven't had a chance to write a story about it yet, but will try to get to it down the road.
I'm sure there are all sorts of stories to be told by the student managers. There are probably some they can't share.
No question they deserve recognition. Thanks again for the idea
Bob: Any comments or indications from coach Salem as to what kind of improvement we can expect on special teams...any update on the kicking leaders? Thx.
Unfortunately, we haven't been able to talk to the players or coaches for more than a week. That ends today after an afternoon practice.
I will try to get an update on the progress of the special teams. During Camp Rantoul, they were spending a lot of time on it. That has to be a good thing.
The coaches have divided up the special teams. The players seem to be excited on getting on the field other than on offense and defense. And I think the pool of returners is deeper than a year ago.
If Illinois improves about 20 spots nationally in special teams, it might mean the difference in one more win.
How is Beck addressing our infamous special teams issues? Does he plan on putting our best athletes back for our returns and what is his take on starters playing on the kickoff team? Also does our line finally look like it may be set? Maybe (Thornton, Pocic, Feldmeyer, Hill, Heitz)??? Cvijanovic in the mix maybe.
Special teams became a priority to the coaching staff from the moment they arrived at Illinois. They saw the statistics from a year ago and if they watched the film, they saw all sorts of flaws.
To me, one area where Illinois can make up a lot of ground is in the returns. Scoring a touchdown is a whole lot easier if you get a 20-yard punt return to start the drive. That hasn't happened often at Illinois in recent years.
I haven't seen the line since the last day of Camp Rantoul. I will check it out today and report back. But I have to think Graham Pocic and Hugh Thornton are the key players. They will drive the rest of the group. Both have taken to their leadership roles this season.
Would you please rank the four non conference games in degree of difficulty? I am presuming Charleston is the weakest but don't have a feel for the other three schools. We are planning on going to Tempe for the ASU game and would like to know if you think the Illini will be an underdog or a favorite for that game. Thank you.
It's really close between the top three. Louisiana Tech is coming off of the best season and has a boatload of players returning. Arizona State is a road game for Illinois, which is never easy early in the season. And Western Michigan knows Memorial Stadium about as well as the current Illinois coaching staff.
I'll go with this:
1. Louisiana Tech
2. Arizona State
3. Western Michigan
4. Charleston Southern
Charleston Southern might be one of the worst FCS teams to play in Champaign.
Thanks for the chats.
I believe that you've mentioned that you expect Penn State's football team to eventually fall to 3 or 4 wins per season. Could you expound on this a bit more? Have you been surprised by any of the players that have stayed and do you expect that some might end up leaving at a later date? They seem to have held the majority of the 2013 recruiting class together so far. What's your opinion on the team still being able to appear on television?
After the 2012 season, the players will again be open and I think another group will leave. Maybe more than those that left this year.
Think about the timing of the open recruiting. The players were pretty settled into their Penn State routine. So, it was going to be very difficult to pick up and transfer to another school. That won't be as difficult after the season.
The scholarship limits are going to really hit hard, especially in the second and third year. And with no hope for a bowl for the next four years, recruiting is going to be extremely difficult outside of Pennsylvania. And maybe even inside the state.
I wouldn't be surprised, even though he has a long-term deal, if Bill O'Brien gets very tired of it after three or four years and moves on. If he stays, of course, then he's a hero.
I don't mind having Penn State remain on television because that way you don't penalize the opponent. Illinois and Ohio State and Wisconsin had nothing to do with this, so their games should be on when they play Penn State.
What I'm going to be curious about is how the networks deal with games at Penn State. Will they show a bunch of happy people tailgating or will they dwell on the problems at the school?
Why isn't Illinois getting more players out of Florida. We didn't see 1 Illinois scout at our schools in Gainesville. But saw coach's from Iowa, Iowa State, Wisconsin and several more from the midwest. Between our school and Gainesville High School we have at least 6 BCS players being recruited.
Coaches here always talk about recruiting places where they have relationships. It's possible there aren't any ties between the current staff and the high school coaches in Gainesville. I would guess most schools consider Gainesville the property of Florida when it comes to recruiting. But the Gators can't take everybody.
I think Florida will continue to be a recruiting area for Illinois. But it will be in spots. Miami seems to be an area Illinois wants to recruit. I understand Illinois is after players in Orlando and other parts of Florida.
1. What kind of transition do you see happening with the new recieving corps without leading reciever Jenkins from last year? 2. Where do we stand with recieving prospects such as justin quick and laquon treadwell? 3. What does illini nation have to look forward to this year with the new coaches and where do you see the illini ranking in the big ten this year?
No player is going to provide 90 catches like A.J. did in 2011. I think the players and coaches understand that. So, their plan is to divide those catches among the remaining players. It sounds like a good idea.
Illinois is after top receivers. With a couple of those guys, including Treadwell, it could be a long wait. A lot will depend on how the Illinois offense performs this season. If Illinois throws the ball around and scores a bunch of points, it will be easier for it to lure top receivers.
I think Illinois can win as few as four games and as many as nine. If it hits the latter number, it will be in contention for the Leaders Division title.
I'm going to cut it off for today. Thanks for the great questions.
I look forward to talking to you next Monday. And we will start our postgame chats on Sept. 1.
Have a great week.