Sept. 22 Ask the Sports Editor chat

Sept. 22 Ask the Sports Editor chat

Friday, September 22, 2017 - 2:00pm

Will the bye week make a difference for Illinois football when it returns to action Sept. 29 against Nebraska? Is that a winnable game given the Cornhuskers' struggles? On the high school side, which teams and players are the ones to watch with postseason play approaching? Anything is fair game in sports editor Matt Daniels' weekly chat, which gets going at 2 p.m. on Friday. Feel free to submit questions ahead of time.

Matt Daniels wrote on September 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm
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Happy Friday afternoon everyone on an unseasonably warm late September day in Champaign-Urbana.

Sports editor Matt Daniels here for a bit to answer any questions you all have. Lovie Smith's program is in the middle of its lone off week this season, while basketball practice for Brad Underwood's program is a week away. Hard to believe, but then again, it seems we say that any time a season is about to start.

And high school football is at the midway point of the season, with Week 5 action getting going tonight.

Let's get to any questions that are out there.

Anonymous User wrote on September 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm

During the two weeks off, how many practices does the FB team schedule? Do the players get time to get away from all things being football? Do all the assistant coaches spread out over the country? How long are they allowed to do this and what constraints if any are put on them by the NCAA? Does Lovie get to go off campus and recruit also, and can he have contact with prospective recruits? Think they will get a commitment during this time, or will they mostly be evaluating both seniors and juniors as well?

Matt Daniels wrote on September 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm
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Hey anonymous,

Illinois football has practiced this week, albeit I don't believe at the normal schedule they have used through the first three games.

The players do get time away from all things football, especially with new NCAA rules put in place this year that mandate all athletes get one day off from all football-related activities.

The football coaches do spread out across the country, stopping in key areas like the Chicago suburbs, St. Louis, Texas and Florida, four pipelines Lovie Smith and his staff continue to develop ties to, if not strengthen ties already there.

The Illini staff, like every other FBS staff in the country, can use 42 evaluation days from Sept. 1 through Nov. 25 to recruit and leave campus.

Lovie Smith can go off campus and recruit during this time period, to the best of my knowledge.

With 15 commits already in the fold, (three being quarterbacks), the 2018 class seems to be in good shape. This time in the calendar year is good for staying plugged into the 2019 recruits and 2020 recruits for future classes.

Lifetime Illini wrote on September 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm


When basketball season comes around, will anyone do a basketball only chat?  I know Scott's chat includes basketball, but I think he is getting fewer basketball questions with the multi-sport chat. 


Second, would you play Crouch, George or both against Nebraska?  We desperately need some consistent offense. After all of the complaints about not having a mobile quarterback for the last few years, we have had one for three games and it hasn't really helped. Appreciate your thoughts. 

Matt Daniels wrote on September 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm
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Hey Lifetime Illini,

Thanks for the questions.

Scott Richey wears many different hats in his role at The News-Gazette, but feel free to fire away any basketball-related questions his direction at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

With Illinois football and volleyball seasons ongoing, two other programs Richey covers along with Brad Underwood's program, he can take questions on all subject matters.

But once basketball season gets going full circle in a little less than two months, the majority of his questions will be just that: basketball.

I said in this space last week that Chayce Crouch was the only quarterback that would see significant snaps this season for the Illini.

Well, it seems I was wrong. The way he has struggled throwing the ball and his inability to break out any consistent running seems to have shifted the tide towards playing Jeff George Jr. more, if not starting him against Nebraska.

The Illinois offensive line remains an issue, so having a pocket passer like George could pose some problems against a defense with a steady pass rush.

Then again, Crouch hasn't wowed yet through the first three games with his play-making ability. 

I think you play the quarterback that gives you the best option to win, and right now, I'd have to say it would appear playing both Crouch and George can do that for the Illini.

Other weaknesses were exposed in last Friday night's loss at South Florida (poor defense being a major one), but the offense does need to get corrected sooner rather than later. We'll see what Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee do leading up to next Friday night's game against Nebraska in the Big Ten opener for the Illini.

Matt Daniels wrote on September 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm
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Going to wrap this chat up for this week. Thanks for the questions.

Stay cool out there and make sure you pick up Saturday's N-G for comprehensive high school football coverage from around the area tonight, check out our online scoreboard at that kicks off at 6 p.m. today and if you're near a radio, tune into "SportsTalk," today from 5-6 p.m.

I'll be on with Scott Beatty and joined by our N-G co-worker Bob Asmussen as well.

Come back Sunday for Loren Tate's latest column (he's not done writing yet, folks) along with a look at St. Thomas More standout girls' golfer Alaina Bowie and a Q&A with former Illini great Dana Howard, among many other items.

Have a great weekend everyone!