Aug. 7 Bob Asmussen chat

Aug. 7 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, August 7, 2017 - 10:00am

How did the Illinois football team look in the first week of practice? Which player made the biggest gains since last season? Who will be the third-string quarterback?

For the answers to these questions, and anything else on your mind, check in with our longtime college football writer.

Bob Asmussen wrote on August 07, 2017 at 10:08 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. Sorry about the late start, but something came up work. It won't happen again. Until it does.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I spent a lot of time watching the Illinois football team at the Campus Rec Fields. It is a very good setup. If you get a chance to come out, please say hello.

Hard to get an accurate  early read on the teeam. There are a lot of players missing because of injuries and we have only seen one day in full pads.

A good sign for Illinois is the return of Ricky Smalling, who missed a few days because of personal reasons. He will be a factor this season.

Enough stalling, time to get to your questions. As always, thank you for participating.


Coach Carmody wrote on August 07, 2017 at 10:08 am

Hey Bob, 

I know there has been a lot of concern in recent days about the amount of ints thrown during 7on7 but I don't think that is as big of an issue as people are making it out to be. First off its early...second everyone knows you are throwing the ball in 7on7 (which admittedly is not one of Crouchs strengths) but I believe that our passing game is going to be heavily predicated on play action and roll outs which will make a huge difference for Chayce. What is your take on this? Also how do you feel about Oline and Dlines progression early on in training camp?


Bob Asmussen wrote on August 07, 2017 at 10:08 am
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Coach Carmody,


You are right, not that big of a deal. If it persists for the remainder of camp, it will be a bigger deal. But early in camp, guys are still getting used to each other, Plus, there have been injuries on the offensive line that have disrupted the offense some. When everybody is on the field together, there will be fewer picks and better offense.

You make some very good points about how the Illinois offense will work. It won't be all downfield passes. Play action and throwing on the move should be a strength for the Illnois offense. Chayce Crouch hasn't played in a game for a long time, so there might be some early blips. But he has the talent to move the team.

I have written this before, but the Illinois offense must get better at keeping drives going, When you are at the bottom of the country in first downs, you will not win games,. Period. The team needs to jump 40 to 50 spots nationally in first downs before it will win on a consistent basis.

On the offensive line, when everybody is healthy, it can be productive. Will it be dominant? That might be a stretch. When Illinois has won big in the last two decades, it had very good offensive lines.

The defensive line is young and has some talent. The freshman will have to play. The future looks brighter with the players Lovie Smith has coming. The team will have to win with scheme, whereas a year ago, it had more experienced talent.





Larrimore wrote on August 07, 2017 at 10:08 am

Are there 3 players on this Illini roster that are reasons to take the 2 hour drive down 57 to watch a game this season? If so, who?

Bob Asmussen wrote on August 07, 2017 at 11:08 am
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Great question. Yes, I can give you three.

1. Mikey Dudek. As a freshman, he was one of the best in school history. Had he stayed healthy, he would have made a run at David Williams' school records, which I thought were unbreakable. He has worked hard. If he gets close to where he was before, the Illinois offense will be improved.

2. Kendrick Foster. I like it when guys become very good players after they were down the depth chart. Foster turned himself into a factor and I'm guessing will have a big senior year.


3. Kenyon Jackson. I wrote about his dealing with diabetes in Sunday's paper. He is a good guy from an even better family. Plus, he can play. I like the fact that he isn't letting the disease define who he is.


Chris n Mattoon wrote on August 07, 2017 at 11:08 am

Starting his 2nd year, how do you see Lovie doing?  Can this staff really turn this train wreck around and will Lovie hang around long enough to keep it going?  Also, what is the feeling around the B1G with regards to Illinois and their outlook in the future?  Who would you rather have if you coud do it all over, Fleck or Lovie and why?

Bob Asmussen wrote on August 07, 2017 at 11:08 am
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Chris n Matton,

Remember, in 2010-11, Illinois won bowl games in consecutive years for the first time in school history. It can be done, The team was in the Rose Bowl 10 years ago.

It won't be easy. And it won't likely be fast. Lovie Smith was given a six-year contract for a reason, The administration knew it would take a commitment to fix football. And it has shown the commitment financially and in other ways, I believe Lovie Smith is getting what he asks for in terms of schol support. I don't think that was the case for the previous three staffs.

The key, of course, is recruiting. Lovie Smith needs to boost the overall talent level. That takes time. Illinois is counting on Smith's work in the NFL to pay off both in terms of name recognition and talent evaluation. He has worked with the best and should know it when he sees it.

I think there is great respect for Lovie Smith throughout the Big Ten. The other coaches seem to like him. If he starts winning that might change a bit. The rest of the league has always viewed Illinois as a program that could win a lot with the right person in charge.

I am not convinced that P.J. Fleck will be a hit at Minnesota. He walked into a great situation at Western Michigan. I am not sure he will be able to repeat his success in the Twin Cities. We will see.


Bob Asmussen wrote on August 07, 2017 at 11:08 am
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I am going to cut off the chat for today. I will be back next Mondy at the same time. If you have any questions between now and then, feel free to write me at

We are going to do "The News-Gazette Sports Page" tonight at the Campus Rec Fields. Stop by and say hello if you get a chance.

Have a great week.