Sept. 17 Bob Asmussen chat

Sept. 17 Bob Asmussen chat

Monday, September 17, 2018 - 10:00am

How well did the Illini perform against South Florida? Is the team ready for Penn State? What players are key to a successful Big Ten season?
For the answers to these questions, and anything else on your mind, check in with our longtime Illinois beat writer.

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am
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Welcome back to another Bob Asmussen chat. I will be here for about an hour before I zip over to Memorial Stadium for Lovie Smith's press conference.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. I went to Soldier Field for Saturday's Illinois-South Florida game. If you have seen my column from the game, you know I think playing there was a mistake. Nothing against Chicago or Soldier Field, which are both great. But I don't like the idea of giving away home games in football. They are too precious. It will be unfortunate for Lovie Smith's team if it finishes one win short of a bowl game.

Oh well, water under the bridge. If Illinois wants to help its coach down the road, it won't go back there in 2022 as is the current plan. Pay the penalty, thank the Chicago Park District for its great work and play the game at home.

Obviously, Friday's game against Penn State is a huge opportunity for Illinois. If it can win or play close, it will be a good sign for the direction of the program and help in a lot of areas. There are two other games on TV that night, but neither has the draw of Illinois-Penn State.

There is another big event coming to C-U this weekend. The Hall of Fame ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday. Should be fun.

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

Mr. Illini wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

Bob,

No disrespect to the feshman, who have stepped up and competed but let's face it, they are freshman. Assuming the suspended players are cleared to play and A. J Busch returns from injury, might we have a game where a freshman doesn't start, in fact play fairly minimally?

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am
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Mr. Illini,

It is very possible. And like you, I mean no offense. These guys will be good in time, but it is hard to play early in college. Not impossible, but difficult. Ron Zook always used to talk about guys going from the yellow bus to the big bus. Though I'm guessing many high school teams use charters to bus to games. Still, the point is the guys are young and they have a lot to learn.

There have been some good plays made by the freshman and also some mistakes. They will learn and be better for it later.

No doubt, Illinois will get some needed help for Penn State. The two most important returnees are Nate Hobbs and Bennett Williams. Lou Dorsey provides a big boost for the offense.

Even with all hands on deck, hanging with Penn State won't be easy. But it is possible.

Illini Football Fan wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

Bob -

Now that Vontae Davis is retired from the NFL, any idea of what Davis would like to do for work? Does he have any aspirations in coaching? Would Lovie Smith/Hardy Nickerson consider taking him later on once he hons his coaching and recruiting skills?

Thanks!

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am
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Illini Football Fan,

I believe Vontae made a lot of money in the NFL during a long career and should be comfortable for life. But he is also still a very young guy with a lot of productive years.

I got to know him pretty well and he was always very pleasant and had a great sense of humor. He would laugh easily.

If he wants to coach, coming back to Illinois would make a lot of sense. Desides his obvious skill as  a player, he would provide recruiting connections in DC and Florida. I think you have come up with a candidate for the open position, if not now, then later.

I haven't talked to Vontae in a long time, but will reach out and see what he plans to do.

 

Illini Football Fan wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

Bob -

Obviously, a 20/20 question, do you think Lovie Smith should have played the suspended players a game earlier (to play at South FL game)? Perhaps, what he could have done, was to perhaps to increase community service hours significantly in order to get these guys to play earlier, especially the last game to be the 'swing' game of the year?

Thank you -

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am
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Illini Football Fan,

 

I think he would have played them if he could have played them. But I believe the players actually violated athletic department rules and it was out of Lovie Smith's hands.

There are guidelines for all of the athlets on campus and they are reminded about them constantly, If you break the rules, you pay the penalty. Without exception, As it should be. If you disregard your own rules, you would be setting your school up for potential chaos.

Do I think the penalties were too harsh? Probably. But I also think the rules are fairly simple to follow.

It is unfortunate that the suspensions cost Illinois the game. And I think that was the case.

teachdacc2 wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

Bob,

Thanks for the chats.  After watching the game Saturday, I wonder if this team is that close to making a statement for the season to appear in a bowl game?  When will the suspended players get back and do they really help?  Being as this is the fourth game, who do you see as being redshirted after four games?  

 

 

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am
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Teachdacc2,

The difference between two wins and three wins at this point for Illinois is huge. If the the team could have held on against South Florida, it would have been halfway to bowl eligibility with winnable games left against Purdue, Nebraska, Northwestern, Maryland and Rutgers. It easier to get to three wins from that group than four. Still possible.

The suspended players will be back for Friday's game. For Lovie Smith, it will be like his pro days, when he could pick up players during the season that had been released by other teams. It will be a big help for the team and I don't think it will take the players long to get back into a groove. They have been practicing, just not playing.

 

Westervelt12 wrote on September 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

Thank you Bob for the article imploring the Illinois Administration to stop scheduling games in Chicago.  The crowd for a major college football game was an embarassment and the more we say we need Chicago the more they turn their back on the Illini.  Don't tell Chicagoans what to do, haven't we in Central Illinois learned that over the years!  What do you think of the Illini's time mangement in the 4th quarter?  At the 4:00 mark South Florida had an injury timeout, we come out of that when the referee starts the clock, and we hike the ball with 30 seconds still on the play clock.  Then later on we let 10 seconds run off before getting a timeout.  Like you say, this team and program have no wiggle room and this didn't help.

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 11:09 am
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Westervelt12,

Thanks for the kind words about my column. I think it is very important that the administration learn from its mistakes. We all should.

Sometimimes, but not always, head coaches with a background on defense struggle with clock management. I think that has been the case for Lovie Smith. It's just a different mindset. Offensive-minded coaches want to get the most yards in the shortest amount of time. That is the nature of the game. Defensive-minded coaches, even those with agressive plans, prefer to run the clock.

I don't know how much control Rod Smith has of the clock when Illinois is on offense. But it should be in his hands.

It is also early in Rod Smith's time here. As the relationship grows, I'm guessing he will have more of a say in some of the less obvious parts of the game.

Daytripper wrote on September 17, 2018 at 11:09 am

Bob:
 

Does Saturday's performance signal progress for the Illini?  A regression by South Florida?  Or both?  Will you ask Lovie why the mis-communication on South Florida's last touchdown and if that will hasten the return of the suspended players?

Finally, any news to report on the recruiting front?

Thanks agian for the chats.

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 11:09 am
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Daytripper,

Saturday's game was definitely a sign of progress. Illinois played a close game against a good team. South Florida will win a lot of games this season.

Lovie Smith said after the game it was a missed assignment. That happens. Unfortunately for Illinois, South Florida made Illinois pay. If the pass gets overthrown or dropped, we aren't talking about it because Illinois would have won.

The five players will likely be back this week. The players served their suspensions and will be ready to go.

Nothing much new on recruiting. I believe there will be a big push next week.

 

LifetimeIllini wrote on September 17, 2018 at 11:09 am

Bob,

Now that you have seen three games for the Illini and their future opponents, what is your updated prediction on W-L record and which games will they win?

 

Thanks for the chats.  

 

Go Illini!

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 11:09 am
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LifetimeIllini,

Great question and perfect timing. I had thought all along that four wins were likely. Now, I am upping the number to five. Mostly because so many of the teams left on the schedule have been unimpressive.

So, I think Illinois will beat Purdue, Nebraska and Rutgers. It has a chance to beat Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern.

Six wins is possible. That would be a huge lift for the program. Giving the young team an extra set of practices adds to the potential, And the exposure in any bowl is important.

Bob Asmussen wrote on September 17, 2018 at 11:09 am
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I am going to close off the chat for today. Thanks for all of your great questions.

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

If you in town tonight, stop by The Esquuire at 5 for "Monday SportsTalk." Illinois men's basketball coach Brad Underwood will be our guest.

Have a great week everybody. Enjoy the nice weather.

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