Oct. 9 Bob Asmussen chat

Oct. 9 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, October 9, 2017 - 10:00am

How did the Illini play against Iowa? What did the move to Jeff George Jr. mean for the offense? Is the team a lock to beat Rutgers?

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

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. As always, thanks for your participation.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I went to the Illinois-Iowa game with Scott Richey. Kinnick Stadium is one of my favorites in the Big Ten. Great crowd and very friendly people. I think the wave to the kids in the hospital at the end of the first quarter is one of the really cool things in sports. Good move by Illinois to get involved.

Illinois played well for a half and had a chance to take a lead at intermission. Turnovers cost Lovie Smith's team in a big way.

Now, the team welcomes Rutgers in what has to be considered a must win. Of course, the Scarlet Knights see this game as one they can win too.

Chris Ash is going through some of the same rebuilding troubles as Lovie Smith. He seems like a good guy with an idea of what he wants for his program. It will take time,

Enough stalling, time to get to your questions.

Anonymous Jim wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am

As frustrating as this team might be to watch currently I feel very good about the direction the football program is heading in.  What is the impression you get from the Illini fanbase regarding coach Smith and the program?

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am
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Anonymous Jim,

Generally, I think the fans understand that the program can't be fixed in a year or two. It is going to take more time, maybe multiple classes. And I think the administration understood that too when it gave Lovie Smith a six-year deal. While I am sure Josh Whitman and the rest of the Illni higher ups want to win now, they are not putting pressure on Lovie Smith, It looks like the idea is to support him in any way possible. Big and little things. No doubt, the new football facility will help with recruiting and shows a commitment to the program.

The staff has made a decision to use a lot of freshmen this season and I think that will pay off in future years. I have said before I would have redshirted everyone. I guess the question is do you want to take the on-field hit now or later. I would choose now, but these guys have coached a lot more games than I have.

What would really help the program is an unexpected win or two, Maybe Minnesota or Purdue or Northwestern. It would be a sign of progress and that will help with both the fan base and the recruiting base.

Anonymous User wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am

After watching the whole Iowa game would one come away with the opinion the game was actually closer than the final score? Two plays the the sucessfull fake punt by the Hawkeyes and then the pick six when we were dring for a score early in the second half seemed to turn the tide didn't it? George seemed to be able to move the ball but not deliver the final plays to put points on the board. After watching films of the two QB commits they seem to give the Illini in the future the ability to have a uch more varied offense don't they? 

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am
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You are taking the glass-half-full approach that I tend to favor too. And it is a reasonable idea. I think the touchdown before the half really hurt the team. I understand why Loive Smith took timeouts late in the half to try to get the ball back, but it didn't work out, The aggressive approach should be applauded. The game would have been different had Illinois scored again before the end of the half and Smith knew that.

George has a lot of his dad in him, only he is a better runner. He thinks he can make the throws. With George throwing, the Iowa defense didn't play as well against the run.

I think George has a good chance to start the rest of his career. And that will give the freshman quarterbacks who come in a chance to develop and not get rushed onto the field. I understand the appeal of a dual-threat quarterback. The key, of course, is that the guy can throw. The incoming freshmen appear to be solid passers.

Illini Football Fan wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am

Bob -
According to your crystal ball, which game(s) do you see as turning point game(s) later this season or next season? Who will be the first upset (Illini winning)

Thank you

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am
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Illini Football Fan,

I think there are a couple this year, both on the road. I have said all along that I thought Illinois could beat Minnesota. The Gophers are not great, losing to Maryland and Purdue. So, that's the next one.

The other is the game at Purdue. The Boilermakers are clearly improved in Jeff Brohm's first season. I think this series is going to become a bigger rivalry in future years and that will be a good thing. The Illini want to win for both the sake of their record and for recruiting bragging rights.

In 2018, I think the home game against South Florida could set a tone for a possible bowl season.


Aaron Alley wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am

Hey Bob!

Any update on Epstein? 

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am
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Great to hear from you. Hope all is well in Texas.

Nothing new to report but I think we will hear something early in the afternoon. I saw him leaving the stadium and it did not look good. He had a very good game and is playing well this season. If he is lost for an extended time, the Illini will use Kendrick Foster more. And Dre Brown is back. I will keep you posted on Epstein.

Anonymous User wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am

Can you name three positive things you have seen from the Illini FB team so far? Three disappointing things you have seen so far? Also what positions do you seem most critical to add to with maybe 5-7 commits to be added? During the TV broadcsst the announcing team said the Illini don't have the full compliment of scholarship players on the team. How short are they? Why is that? Does that mean they could take more players this year, or will they hold some for the next class? Love the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 09, 2017 at 10:10 am
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Anon 2,


Three positives: The play of the freshmen. Del'Shawn Phillips. Mikey Dudek's successful return.

Three disappointments: Secondary at critical times. Too many penalties. Lack of production from some of the veterans.

I think the secondary will be a major point of emphasis in recruiting. Some of the troubles are because of youth, so adding more young guys won't offer immediate help. I go back to early Ron Zook classes, when he got guys like Vontae Davis, who were effective right away.

I am going to add up the scholarship guys when I get a free moment later. But there has been some attrition, which is natural when you have three coaches in three years.

I think they will hit the max for recruiting this season. This coaching staff wants to add to the roster now. The future is not a huge concern at this point.

Bob Asmussen wrote on October 09, 2017 at 11:10 am
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I am going to cut the chat off for today. Thanks as always for your great questions.

I will be back next week at the same time. If you have any questions between now and then, you can email me at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

If you have a free hour tonight, please stop by the Esquire in downtown Champaign for "The News-Gazette Sports Page." Our special guest is co-host Marcus Jackson, who is leaving the paper soon to follow his heart back to Chicago. Marcus has been a great friend over the years and will be missed. Please come by and wish him well.

Have a great week and enjoy the basebal playoffs.