Check out Bob's five spring storylines to watch here.
Back to work
Bob Asmussen was at practice Tuesday. His report:
On a perfect spring day, six new coaches worked their first practices at Illinois. Ron Zook joked that he forgot to tell the new guys how cold it is on the east side of Memorial Stadium. The workout, with players in shorts and helmets, went two-plus hours and the sun was fading as the final few walked off the field. Running back Jason Ford had to be helped off after getting his lower leg hit hard during a drill. Zook said he doesn't think the injury is serious and hopes to have Ford back for Thursday's practice.
What was said
"If someone just runs away with it, then I think you do (want to pick a starting quarterback). If they don't, then there's no problem with letting them work through the summer and go into two-a-days with a little bit of a battle. But, hopefully, by the end of spring somebody takes the lead." – Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino on the quarterback situation. Jacob Charest, Nathan Scheelhaase and Chandler Whitmer are competing for the starting job.
What I'm thinking
Change is good. The energy level at the first practice of every spring is high. Players haven't been on the field for a while and want to show the coaches they are interested. But with six new coaches on the staff and a team motivated by a 3-9 season, the energy was ramped up. A lot. Easy way to tell: A couple of near-skirmishes during some of the drills. You don't normally see that this early in the spring. Raised voices from the coaches, both new and old, showed it too. There is a willingness to please from the players coupled with a sense of urgency. Openings at key positions, including quarterback, adds to the intensity.