March 13 Bob Asmussen chat

March 13 Bob Asmussen chat

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 10:00am

How has the Illinois offense looked in the first week of spring practice? Which players have made a move up the depth chart? What are the primary goals for the defense?

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

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 10:03 am
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Welcome to another Bob Asmussen chat. Sorry for the late start, but I had an interview this morning that came up at the last minute.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I watched a lot of basketball and marveled at the stupidity of the way the NCAA tournament field was announced. Let's hope that was a one-time mistake.

The Illinois football team received a big-time commitment on Saturday when Dallas receiver Marquez Beason said yes to Lovie Smith. He is one of the highest rated players to pick Illinois during the past decade.

The team continues spring practice on Wednesday morning. So far, I would say, it has gone well for the Illini. No serious injuries and a good start in learning the new offense.

Enough stalling, time to get to your questions. As always, thanks for your participation.

Illini Football Fan wrote on March 13, 2018 at 10:03 am

Bob-

Your take on the Beason commit? Are you confident that he will stick to his commitment to Illini and recruit top players to Illinois? Pied Piper?

Thank you.

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 10:03 am
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Illini Football Fan,

Great question. What I saw Saturday was a player who was very, very happy with his college decision. The things he has been saying remind me of Arrelious Benn, who picked Illinois when the team was in a similar situation. Benn wanted to be the reason the team got better and he did a lot of that his freshman season. It seems like Beason wants to be that guy.

He can't sign until December and a lot can happen between now and then. But I heard him talking about helping bring others to C-U. That's a good thing. He knows where the team is now, so I don't think the record in 2018 will have a major impact on his choice. Right now, I would say I am 95 percent certain he signs with Illinois.

Illini Football Fan wrote on March 13, 2018 at 10:03 am

Bob -

Your take on QB transfer grad Bush? Does his acceptance of UI opportunity mean we're out of the running with Brandon Dawkins from U of Az? Or is it possible that we may take 2 QB grad transfers?

Thanks!

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 10:03 am
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Illini Football Fan,

I think it is highly unlikely the Illini will take another grad transfer quarterback. Unless that player is so good they simply can't say no. I think they have the five quarterbacks they will work with in 2018.

I talked to a reporter who covers Virginia Tech and he said Bush is a great kid, excellent student and a leader. The reason he is leaving the Hokies is because he wasn't going to play this year. He simply got beat out for the job.

With so many young quarterbacks, a veteran guy is needed. Not sure what kind of impact he will have on the field, but it sounds like he will be a great help off the field and in the quarterback room. I don't blame ush for coming to Illinois. He has a chance to go from one Power 5 school to another.

What happened to him at Nebraska makes a lot of sense. He was recruited by one coach with a system that fit his talents. Then another coach came in with a style that didn't suit him. That experience will serve him well at Illinois.

 

Anonymous User wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am

Getting such a quality recruit to commit so early was really a big deal wasn't it? Hopefully it will only gain momentum to have a really big year. Seems like we have established a good relationship with Bishop Dunne HS in Texas doesn't it? If we could do the same in the St Louis area and Chicago and its suburbs then I would say we really have something going wouldn't you? Seems like just yesterday when Zook was here we recruited Ohio and also Pennslyvannia quite extensively.Is the reason we don't anymore is because of the lack of ties there with this coaching staff? Hopefully we can keep ties in Florida going and with our coaches California backgrounds that can open up some options also. Lastly with the last two classes being large in numbers, how many commits do you see us taking in the class of 2019 and what positions do you see us really concentrating on? Thanks for the chats!

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am
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Anon,

 

Lovie Smith talked Monday about the momentum a program can build in recruiting. That's what he is hoping to do with Marquez Beason and beyond.

What I have figured out over the years is that the coaches get your foot in the door, but the current players help the recruits decide. I have to believe all the younger guys who got on the field in 2017 make it easier on the coaches when it comes to recruiting. Nobody wants to sit and at Illinois you will have a chance to play early.

All coaches go where they are most comfortable. Mike Locksley called it "Friends and family recruting." Once Illinois got a foothold in D.C. with Ron Zook, it hit the area hard. It also went to Ohio, Zook's home state.

With Lovie Smith, the geography has changed. Texas and Florida are now the hot spots. And I believe California can be a big deal too.

And, of course, St. Louis and Chicago are critical to long-term recruiting success.

I think the 2019 class will be about 20 or so. I think linebacker has to be a huge priority. Receiver is off to a good start, but more are needed. Running back is in good shape, so that might be an area on the lower end of the priority list. Lovie Smith is always going to want to have a solid number of linemen on both sides of the ball. I am guessing 4-5 on offense and 3-4 on defense.

Anonymous User wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am

People seem to think Lovie's rebuild is going slow. I say this should be looked at as his second year not his third because of when he was hired. I also think most Illinois fans don't realize the shape of Illinois FB and how bad it was and bereft of talent when Josh took over as AD and hired Lovie. He has started building it the right way from the bottom up and inside out starting with the line on both sides of the ball. Also if you look at his past experiences as a head coach in Chicago and Tampa Bay the lost at first and then had success, albeit he wasn't given much time in Tampa Bay at all. What do you think about this?

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am
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Anon 2,

You make some very good points. Lovie Smith had an unusual situation at the start because he came in after recruiting was done. Most coaches are hired in December or January, then have to scramble to put together a recruiting class. Lovie Smith didn't have to do that. He had to play catch up with the next class, but he had more time than most coaches to set up his first signing day.

I think Illinois fans had a pretty good handle of where the team was talent-wise when he took over. To his credit, Lovie Smith didn't downplay the guys already on the team. Some coaches come in and complain about the poor work done by the previous coach. It didn't happen here and I think that was a very good move.

Lovie Smith is having to learn about the college game. You can say football is football, but the games are different. I think he has a better understanding of that now than when he took over.

Having to replace his offensive coordinator because of poor play slowed the receovery down, but I think Rod Smith has a chance to fix the offense in a hurry.

Lovie Smith will tell you the first two years record-wise were not acceptable. In a perfect world, the third year would mean a bowl game. Or close. I think the latter is a good possibility. Four or five wins, including a couple in the Big Ten, seems like a reasonable goal for Lovie Smith's third team.

 

TJF1306 wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am

Can you pass along a question to Scott Richey..

So Van Dyke, Gereau transferred and now Omazic & Kuvaya-Deberg no longer on the ILL roster.  Why no coverage of this??

Omazic was a key player in our tourney run.  Rumor is she was a terrible student and would prob not be eligible next year. Did Coach Tamas sugest she leave.  Deberg , was homesick I hear.

Does Coach Tamas habe the line on any transfers. We are woefully thin in the lineup.

 

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am
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TJF1306,

 

Consider it passed along. Scott has a great handle on Illinois volleyball.

Anonymous Jim wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am

Is there a player who has been a pleasant surprise so far in spring practice?

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am
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Anonymous Jim,

Media is limited to the first 30 minutes of each practice, so basically we get to see stretching and some individual work. I understand the coaches not wanting to allow us to see everything, but it would be helpful to watch some of the team periods.

We were allowed to watch all of Saturday's practice. Converted linebacker Justice Williams had a huge day at receiver, catching pass after pass. He looked like a guy who is ready to help on offense this season.

I will get another full practice look the last day of spring. That session is open to the public, so I hope you get a chance to attend. I am going to spend a lot of that day watching quarterback Cam Thomas to see how he has adapted to the new offense.

I also want to watch the work of the young offensive linemen. If that group develops, it could have a major impact on the team's record in the next few seasons.

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on March 13, 2018 at 11:03 am
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I am going to cut the chat off for today. Thanks as always for your great questions.

I am going to have another Tuesday chat next week at the same time. If you have any questions between now and then, feel free to email me at asmussen@news-gazette. com.

Have a great week everyone and enjoy the NCAA tournaments.