Penn State 35, UI 7: 'We have to get better'

Penn State 35, UI 7: 'We have to get better'

CHAMPAIGN — At this time a year ago, Illinois players were all smiles, running around the locker room wearing sunglasses with a “5” painted on one lense and a “0” on the other. The Illini were 5-0 and feeling groovy.

Confused looks and sad eyes filled Saturday’s locker room after Penn State’s 35-7 win in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Remember, it was Penn State’s roster that was gutted after the NCAA sanctions levied in the offseason, not the team sporting the new blue helmets on a sun-kissed fall afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

“I haven’t been around this a whole bunch in my life, but it’s something that we’ve got to get corrected,” first-year Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. “We’re trying to get everything corrected as best we can to make this football team and our football team is trying to get better.”

Illinois (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) isn’t just losing games, it’s looking bad in the process.

The Illini had four major special teams mistakes — in the first quarter.

Illinois was called for eight penalties including two personal fouls, one of which resulted in the ejection of starting safety Earnest Thomas. Another personal foul was declined. Penn State (3-2, 1-0) was flagged twice.

“It’s going to be addressed, there’s no question about that,” Beckman said. “Those things will not be tolerated.”

Next: Trips to Wisconsin and Michigan in the next two weeks.

“We know we’re going to be playing some physical football teams here coming up and we’ve got to become a more physical football team and do what we need to do, plus stay healthy,” Beckman said.

Five times on Saturday, the Illini got the ball inside the Penn State 30-yard line. They scored one touchdown.

“We had those opportunities and that’s the most frustrating thing,” quarteback Nathan Scheelhaase (28 for 46, 270 yards, two INTs) said. “We had opportunities to score the way that they were scoring. They were just able to finish when they got down in the score zone. That’s something that we’ve got to take care of.”

A week after turning the ball over six times, Illinois gave it away three times leading to 14 Penn State points.

And though much has changed at Penn State in the last 10 months, the brand of football the Nittany Lions played Saturday had a familiar look: a bruising defense and the offense marched the ball down the field methodically.

“I think we need a lot of improvement in all categories,” Beckman said. “I’m not going to point my finger, when we lose, it’s everybody, myself most of all. We have to get better.”

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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walker wrote on September 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

"We've got to get that corrected"  the most overused coach speak in all of sports

PeterE wrote on September 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

What he was really saying is "We have to coach better - us coaches really stink"

Smackey wrote on September 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Beckman is in over his head.  coach Vic was the right choice.  Mike Thomas.. your bat your ball your ass your call.  there's more i can add from the mouth of Beckman.  "What have I gotten myself into?"  this is now our truth Illini nation 5 games into the season.  

FloridaIllini wrote on September 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

While watching the OSU/MSU game (nice to watch 2 well coached teams) Brent Musberger made an interesting comment.  He said that Urban Meyer ALWAYS keeps the defensive coordinator wherever he takes the head coaching job.  Maybe Beckman could take some lessons from him.  I'm sure Meyer and the Buckeyes will do some teaching when we play them.

I can't believe we have gotten even worse than we were!


Bear8287 wrote on September 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Hey Florida, you beat me to the same comment about Urban Meyer always keeping the defensive coordinator.

I know I was hoping that once Tim Beckman was named the Illini's new head coach that he would keep Vic Koenning and be able to bring his offensive coordinator (Matt Campbell) with him.  Unfortunately neither of those things happened.

Well, coaches always talk about handling adversity.  It looks like Coach Beckman is going to get a chance to walk the talk...

illinifaningeorgia wrote on September 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Although, he is only one of many problems with this team, Scheelhaase, our runt quarterback, should not be the starter going forward.  Don't be fooled by the completion percentage and total yards in today's game--most of the good stats came from garbage time in the 4th quarter.

The guy is totally incapable of throwing the long ball to loosen up the defense.  The most galling aspect of his game today, though, were the 2 interceptions.  Both were the direct result of Scheelhaase staring a hole into his primary receiver before throwing him the ball, allowing the defense to adjust and thus make the INT's.  You could understand if he was a freshman, but the guy is a 3 year starter. 

Give O'Toole the reins, until our blue chip prospect from Bolingbrook shows up next year.  I just hope that our putrid season doesn't result in him de-committing  (as happened to Indiana last year).

aaeismacgychel wrote on September 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I honestly thought Scheelhaase played a really really good first half with the only thing holding him back being the offensive playcalling.  To blame him for that 4th and goal interception at the end of the half though is ridiculous.  He had to get rid of the ball and that was the play that was called.  If he doesn't get rid of the ball it's a turnover anyways.  Scheelhaase is not a pocket passer.  He never has been.  But you know what, neither is Denard Robinson, Braxton Miller, or Taylor Martinez, and guess what?  They're the best QBs in the B10.  Scheelhaase might not be at their level, and he's certainly no Andrew Luck orBarclay, but he definitely is serviceable and with competent playcalling, he'll do just fine.  I don't know what everyone's infatuation with Riley O'Toole is other than he's a very highly rated prospect who never played up to his potential and also throws the ball away.  That said he is a pocket passer if that's what we want.

Scheelhaase played a good game today even with the bad final interception, but you know what, at that point in the game, did it even matter?  When they called plays to get Nathan out of the pocket he was successful.  That's not a coincidence.

And this is the main problem of the staff: They do not understand at all how to cater to the strengths of the players.  You notice how the Illini defense also blitzed and succeeded on that first drive until the defensive coordinator fell back into his old habits?  That's not a coincidence either.  This coaching staff has to learn that coaching isn't just commanding players to do things, it's knowing your players strengths and playing to them and knowing your players weaknesses and doing your best to hide them.  Nathan Sheelhaase is not what's wrong with this team.  And if Robinson, Miller, or Martinez were our starting QB, we would also be 2-3 and it they wouldn't be what's wrong with the team either.

illinifaningeorgia wrote on September 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

FYI, I watched the game on ESPN, and my comment on the 2 interceptions being caused by Scheelhaase staring down the primary receiver were reiterated by the announcer, who showed instant replays of both INT's.  He (apparently) has no axe to grind, so I take his view as that of a neutral observer.  Worth a lot more than that of a "homer".

RonZookIsMyCoach wrote on September 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

You got what you asked for fans. You wanted a change from someone who brought you 3 bowl games in his last five years and bowl games in back to back years for the first time in 20 years. Also only one of two coaches to win NATIONAL Coach of the Year. You the fans are responsible for this. How those "bigger" programs got to where they are today is they stuck by their coach. You think this program should be winning National Championships year after year. The fact is that wont ever happen in anyone's lifetime. You had the best coach you could possibly get and you ran him out of town. You will now once again have to deal with years of rebuilding. Enjoy...

arch73 wrote on September 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Do you suppose "Ron Zook Is My Coach" is Ron Zook??

IlliniTim 1983 wrote on September 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I dont know if he is Ron Zook or not, but he's right.  I don't comment on here often, hardly at all, and I'm not into all the constant slamming of the coaches, players, and pretty much anyone else that most of the regular posters seems to think is responsible for the Illini sucking.   I do however feel that the Zooker was the best coach we could reasonably expect.  I felt that way then, still feel that way now, and to be honest pretty much feel the same about Bruce Weber.  We'll see how basketball goes.  Until then, I will be supporting the Fighting Illini, always have, always will-   I'm just not expecting too much.  

Dan Bloeme wrote on September 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

OMG, I hate fans like you with such low expectations, acceptance of mediocrity, holding no one responsible to account for their performance and so forth. That kind of passive apathy is why Illinois always seems to end up with horrid coaches like Beckman, Zook, Turner, Moeller, Blackmon, etc. Once the majority of the fans' expectations and subsequently the administrators' expectations go way up, then acceptance of mediocrity will be effectively eliminated and only good coaches will be considered in the future.

aaeismacgychel wrote on September 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I'm going to partially disagree with you.  Ron Turner was a good game coach.  He'd have his players prepared and they'd play hard for him.  Yes, we all sat through those terrible final three years of his tenure here, but it wasn't for lack of gameday coaching ability or unpreparedness of the team, it was that he abhored recruiting.  There's a difference between what's going on now and the cause to us being blown out (poor game coaching and preparation), and what happened then and the cause to us being blown out (us having 2-star athletes as our starters).  Turner had to go for sure, but he really was a good coach to have on your sidelines.  If he were coaching and Ron Zook was recruiting for him, I think Illinois would have had a lot of success.

That said, yes, each coach you named had a major deficiency.  In this case though, Beckman is deficient at everything.  He needs to go now.

IlliniTim 1983 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 1:09 am

Hey Dan- sorry dude, I'm not going to get into an internet pissing match with ya.  I was just trying to agree with the other guy and say that I personally thought the Fighting Illini were in a better spot with the previous coach(es)-and I think there are alot of other Illinois fans and alumni who feel the same way.  Please remember, we're rooting for the same team.  Have a great weekend    -TIm 

houstonillini84 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm

well, I hate people who blame the fans. Apathy isnt what got us Beckman. Our new AD got us Beckman. So many fans wanted Zook gone at any price, and when some folks suggested caution, we heard how Zook was the worst and that Thomas would make a good hire. Instead Thomas got played by Sumlin and ended up with his third or fourth choice, and now we have home blowouts from PSU and Louisiana Tech (!?). Thats what got us here. Fans on a forum had nothing to do with it.

just_wondering wrote on September 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Bring QB David Piland home from Houston. He throws for 300+ yards per game, has career QB rating greater than 100, and throws the long ball, but since Coach Sumlin left Houston for Texas A&M the Cougars just aren't the same and maybe he'd be willing to transfer. He's 6'3" and can see downfield. Grew up in Mahomet, but moved to Texas ealry in high school and went to the top QB high school in Texas, Southlake Carroll. 

geriatricillini wrote on September 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

We all need to calm down...15 or 20 years from now, we'll be fine...just be patient.. right?...

Jam wrote on September 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Starting the game Penn State had the ball 3 different series before they scored.  The defense was on the field a lot.  The offense looked confused.  Why do we make two wonderful pass plays and move the ball and then have 3 different quarterback runs which led to losing the ball on downs.  The punt which we lost at the start was a beautiful punt which carried with the wind.  I am sure to the returner it was moving all over the place.  However he should have been prepared to handle it.  I am usually one that will be supportive of coaches, however on this day when I was at the stadium and saw what I saw I just think that these Illini were not prepared.  I think that the coaching staff should eat "beans and weanies at the training table until the next win"!!!!!

DaisyJ wrote on September 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Parking lot nearly half empty half hour before game. Even 77 club ( first time) was one third empty.

Maybe 7000 in stands when game had 10 min. to go.

Scheel will never be the answer.

Can  you believe we rushed our 4th and one on the goal line. We rushed ourselves.

We do not try to score using time outs at the end.

With the three loses did you notice the energy and quickness that La . Tech, Penn St. and Ari. St. had just in getting to the line to start to run a play. We mope around, look here, look there, and have our head in our butt dragging along. Beckman, I know you do not have the best talent. But, it takes no talent to HUSTLE. On this, your team has left you.

RedLeader wrote on September 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm

 This is a program going the wrong way.It seems the only people more confused than the Illini Nation are the players themselves.Coach Vic had the answers on defense and the offense was good enough to keep them in most games last year.I was never a Ron Zook believer but he has to have a smile on his face with the performance of the confused Illini while he enjoys all the money he got to be fired from this institution.The only thing worse than the new look uniforms is the direction of this program.For many years the only reason to go to the game was Chief Illinwek at halftime and the performance of the Marching Illini.So much for tradition.Blame the fans?Good luck putting people in the seats to watch this team.Ron Guenther where are you?

Illini76 wrote on September 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Another embarrassment. No plan. No coaching. No execution. And we are out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the garish uniforms. Beckman is Gary Moeller reincarnated.

CecilColeman wrote on September 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm

"We have to get better" - - - hell, can we get any worse?

houstonillini84 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm

people said that when they wanted Zook fired. Well guess what, it CAN get worse.

jgrout wrote on September 29, 2012 at 11:09 pm

The national papers are full of lying claims by a Penn State player about Illinois' "recruiting" of Penn State players who contacted them... not the other way around.  Gutter journalism.

PeterE wrote on September 30, 2012 at 12:09 am


You can stick your head in the sand if you prefer to remain ignorant in denial but Illinois is the only B10 team that showed up at State College airport with 8 coaches ready to solicit and encourage PSU's players to join the Illini. That was about as bush league as it gets. Penn State exacted their revenge 35-7 against the Illini, whose coaches deserved to be humiliated.

Illinigrad wrote on September 30, 2012 at 12:09 am

"We all need to calm down...15 or 20 years from now, we'll be fine...just be patient.. right?..."


15 to 20 Years.  Are you pulling our collective leg?  Some of us probably will not be around then.  Is their patience in Heaven?

geriatricillini wrote on September 30, 2012 at 9:09 am

the answer to your question is...umm...YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am 63 years old...we have 4 trips to major bowls since I've been watching (since I was 10 in 1960) and we are 1-3...look it up...I can't believe anyone would  take that comment seriously...they have been saying "be patient" for at least 50 years...probably is called SARCASM...loosen up your undies just a bit...every coach since Pete Elliot has a losing record except Mackovc (who ran off to Texas) and White ( who was in hot water with the NCAA when he was asked to leave)..246 wins in 566 games, not counting the 11 ties...this is not good,...a 43% winning percentage won't draw many folks to Champaign...including good 15- 20 years sounds about right to me, unfortunately

cymoin wrote on September 30, 2012 at 1:09 am

I've read all the posts on all the articles and listened to all the postgame chats on radio the previous weeks.  There is a macro level issue here that I really think people need to realize that is even more true now than it was even 10-15 years ago.

First of all, C-U is not a place any athlete with hopes of "making it" professionally is going to come unless there is a connection that is real (born here, family are alums, followed the team during childhood, etc.).  As mean as that may sound, it's just the truth. 

So...if one of those elements is not present, there are probably only two other carrots that will get top tier athletes to come here (and note that this type of athlete is going to have multiple offers from other so-called top tier programs):  either you have a tradition of success or you have proven that you are a conduit to the next level.  At the end of the day, for most athletes with the raw skills to go further in their careers, that's it.

We don't need to go back that far because we all know the college and pro sports worlds have undergone their most dramatic changes (economically, overall size of the athlete, speed of the game, etc.) in the past two decades.  So if we just look at the two Rons (Turner and Zook), you can understand the challenges I just cited above.  Turner is obviously a pretty smart guy.  Not a genius but he'd already had a stint in the NFL and several successful stints with strong college programs before coming here so in him you had technical credibility.  But remember that he arrived shortly after the internet had become part of our lives and it was during his tenure that some really big shifts in college recruiting on a national scale took place and this was a major weakness for him and one he just could not overcome.  Losing records resulted in poorer recruiting classes even though there were still guys coming through the program that ended up still playing on Sunday.

Enter Zook.  Here was a guy who was coming from a very successful program and was a known top-tier recruiter.  But don't ever let anyone tell you that the jump from coaching a specific area of a football team (coordinator/special teams/etc.) to being the top administrator is easy.  It's like when a player goes from college to the NFL.  Night and day.  Zook also was very fortunate that his OC, who was good but not great, had the D.C. area "Lock"ed down.  Zook got top-tier athletes to start and he had technically smart guys from Turner's tenure to blend with them.  We all saw the short-term results.  But Zook was never a strong in-game strategist nor was he a good administrator.

And here is something interesting: Turner, Zook and Locksley never should have been head coaches.  Their strengths do not lend themselves to that position.  They are niche guys and it does seem that all three have finally figured that out.  But when Locksley left, Zook lost D.C. and that accelerated the decline and, as we all witnessed, recruiting began to die.

Bottom line for Illinois (and while you might say this is true for any program, it is even more critical for this place because of the location):  you need to win consistently and be known for it AND place players at the next level.

Which brings us to the current guy.

Wow.  Think about it.  Pedigree?  OK but not anything great.  Recruiting?  Hmmm  Technical know-how?  The Big 10, even in a down year, ain't Toledo is it?

Illinois needed to bring in someone who was known on the national landscape in one of those areas and they did not do it.  Keep in mind that the network revenue alone that the university receives is as large or larger than some schools total budget.  The money is there.

You are all going to laugh at this but if Illinois wants to turn their football program into something special, they need a coach from the NFL or from a college that is known nationally as a force.  But they also need a guy who has already shown he is a quality head coach and is gifted in recruiting.  Yes that is a lot to ask but the guy is still out there that they need.

I've gone on too long and don't have space to defend who I think is the best choice so I'll just give the name.

Tony Dungy.

peterborich wrote on September 30, 2012 at 1:09 am

Tony Dungy?  OMG?  Best laugh I've had all about John Madden next?  Or how about Bill Parcells?    How about the bones of Vince Lombardi or those of Hank Stram....ha ha ha ha ha

aaeismacgychel wrote on September 30, 2012 at 3:09 am

That's a wonderful post, but, um, our chance of getting Tony Dungy to coach us is just about the same as our chance of getting the NCAA to allow Peyton Manning to play for us on Saturday's so he can "warm-up" for his Sunday NFL games.  While it's great to aim high and all, we'd be lucky to get Tony the Memorial Field Janitor to agree to this coaching job right now.

Bear8287 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Kirby Wilson?

goillini22 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am

I am already getting tired of Beckman saying "I have not been around this much" (losing).  Well you have now and it's time to face the facts and get us out of this disgrace that you have created. I am not a Zook fan but at least we had a respectable game last year in Happy Valley against a much better Penn State team. These coaches are horrible. I am confident our talent level on this team is as good if not better than the Penn State players...there was no reason why we should have lost this game. I see how it works - let's let the other team get a big first half lead, then we enact a game plan that gives us a chance and see if we can come back. This is fun.

My highlights of the game were the new helmets and Miles O. hustling down the field and saving a touchdown at the end of the first half.  Then again I turned the game off at halftime as I was so disgusted...does not look like I missed much.

OrlandoIllini wrote on September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am

We are watching a team that expects to lose every week.

They will finish this season 2-10, or 3-9 if they beat Indiana on a fluke.

Next year the talent level drops off, and probably again in 2014 as the Illini continue to attract players who might do fairly well at a Division 2 program.

At the end of, or possibly during, the 2014 season, the coaching staff is dismissed. Whoever is the AD then will have to decide: maintain your per-game attendance of under 15,000 people, or open the vault and bring in top coaches who can recruit and coach big time players.

After more than 45 years of being an Illini football fan, I am wondering if it is worth the time and dispepsia to continue paying attention to the program. Give me basketball (after the past several years' hiatus) and volleyball.

ColoradoMike wrote on September 30, 2012 at 9:09 am

Very well said.......Aaron Bailey will be running for his life.

The uniforms were the only highlight.

Green Shirt wrote on September 30, 2012 at 7:09 am

What we need is a Barry Alvarez-like savior.  The chances of that are slim but better than the chances of attracting Tony Dungy.  (While I have not given up on Beckman being that "savior", the early returns are certainly not promising.)

crackerman wrote on September 30, 2012 at 9:09 am

I believe we have "DUMB" football players! It's just that simple.

Moonpie wrote on September 30, 2012 at 10:09 am

We must wait form Obi Wan Tate to come down from Mt. Tate to let us know what really happened and what can be done. Shhhhh. I hear the prophet coming now. Or maybe that was just his ego leaving The Esquire.

bigteddy10 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 11:09 am

I've read most of the comments and what's really shocking is that most of the fans are so negative towards Beckmon and Scheelhaase. There's a lot of blame to go around and not saying that they should be eliminated from what's wrong cause they are just as much the reason as quite a few other individuals. This problem started a few years ago with Zook as the coach, mediocre recruiting and coaching is the primary root for our problems. Lack of depth on offensive and defensive lines, no team speed, skill players at all time low and too many 2 & 3 star recruits starting now cause past staff couldn't get QUALITY players to come to Champaign. We're located in the midwest and it's a hard sell to get a 4 or 5 star recruit to say the heck with going to Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State or any other top tier program and come to C-U, we've never been considered to be on the level with those programs and it will be a while before we do. Now as for Beckmon, you made a big mistake in not retaining Vic Koening as DC. There was already a scheme that WORKED last year, we were ranked in the top 25 overall in defense. Common sense should've made you work out a good deal and kept him from going to UNC for the same position. Just like the end of last year our OL is once again HORRIBLE, my 10u kids that I coach can block better than these guys. 1st and goal at the 1 and we can't punch it in is about as bad as it can get. They can't pass block, they can't run block but these are the guys who were recruited to come here, until we get quality guys to come these 2 and 3 star recruits will never measure up, PERIOD. Lack of skill players is the fault of the past regimes inability to sell the program the way they were suppose to. To the staff this ain't the MAC conference now you guys need to step your game up or y'all might be all looking for new jobs soon, which is something most of the fans want anyway. 

Bear8287 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I think that much of the frustration in the fan base doesn't stem from the fact that the program doesn't win national championships (as some seem to suggest) but from the fact that the team has been worse than mediocre over the past 50 years (as others have shown). 

College Football's biggest underachievers
By Brody Burns | National Football Post
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 12:12 PM EDT

One of the more baffling anomalies of college football is the regular mediocrity of some programs. Despite significant advantages; in money, location, talent, program history, the ability to recruit, or other distinct features, certain programs do not live up to their potential. These teams are underperformers in every sense of the word. Often this label is not an indictment on their inability to reach a national title, or win their conference; it’s merely a statement on their failure to win on a regular basis despite being positioned to win. The following is a list of the perennial underperformers of college football:

To find out where Illinois ranks on this list, click here.

[I wonder if we missed placing higher because of our bowl win last year.  By the way, I did attend the Kraft Fired Head Coaches Bowl game.]

illinifaningeorgia wrote on September 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Notice in the last sentence in the article about Illinois, the writer mentions LOCATION as one of the plus factors that the Illini do not use to their advantage. 

That brings up one of my pet peeves regarding reasons that people use to help explain the perpetual mediocrity of the football program:  Champaign-Urbana is in the middle of nowhere.  My best argument against that is 2 words (no, not those two words):  Penn State.  They are the poster child for "major university located in the middle of nowhere".  College Station has been joked about for years--90 miles from the nearest airport, among other things.  Apparently the remoteness of the campus didn't hurt the quality of the football team for the last 40 years or so. 

Bear8287 wrote on September 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I guess it's so remote that a lot of people don't even realize that it's located in State College and not College Station (Texas A&M)...  :-)

"I've been to Penn State," said Bob Knight, then the coach at Indiana, when Penn State was first invited to join the league in 1990. "And Penn State's a camping trip. There's nothing for about 100 miles."  :-)

Mike Cloyd wrote on September 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Most of the blogs that I've read are right on but one thing is missing we'll never have a big name coach of anykind coming to Illinois for one reason only our football system is broken and all the coaches across the US know this and won't come because of that. They also know that they wouldn't have the necessary time needed to develop a national program. It's really sad but this seems to be our trend and has been for since the time of Pete Elliot. Were at a point in time where there will be no national champion at Illinois until the top starting with the AD knows how to chose a coach to do that job. It may be time to start looking at the AD for this post it seems like he's hiding because there has been no response from him on this growing situation. Hmmm.... Hey Mike where you at??? Looking for a new job else where that would be my guess. Illinois is all about paying out the money from die hard alumni and to what avail has this gotten us... I feel for the alumni there getting screwed and I don't think there enjoying it at all...

jjohnson wrote on September 30, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Overall, I think a good post. What I have believed was Zook's major shortcoming was that no one, and that included, until it was too late, my friend Guenther, pointed out that a head coach in college does not need to be a play caller (or a time-out caller), but rather a CEO with what it takes to recruit athletes and assistant coaches. Ron Turner was not a head coach not only because (the opposite of Tepper), he not only did not like to recruit, but failed to realize that the defensive team was as much his as was the offense.

Tim Beckman talks a good game -- and that is not sarcasm. I think it was a horrible mistake not to do whatever was necessary to retain Koenig, and at this point in time, no same person can offer positive testimony for the offense or the special teams coaches, but . . . recruiting did fall off in Zook's last year or so (though we got some awfully good players nonetheless), probably in part because in recruiting, when your opponents can say that the other guy recruiting you might not be around to coach you, well . , , think back to why Lou Henson was pushed out the door earlier than he may have wanted.

The biggest gap seems to me to be in the O-Line, where it was also a problem last year. Injuries can be used as an excuse, but Pocic is supposed to be our center and missed at least the two games prior to today, and was at tackle yesterday because Thornton was out. It looked through my glasses as though he was so-so for first time back at that position, but, good news, again through my glasses, it appeared that he and Karras actually did a fair job, not perfect, but if Thornton can come back, maybe the O-Line can round out.

At any rate, as truly ugly as the ASU, L-T and PSU games were -- all of which I attended so I barfed more than those watching on TV, -- to give up now is really silly. I was a Pirates fan in 1971 when they became the first team ever to come bsck being down 0-2 in the World Series; there is a reason we do not end the season with the publication of Street & Smith. If Beckman can recruit, and I know ugly games make it tougher, things can get better.

And I hope they do; I plan my life each year around Illinois football and our bowl game -- and I do have a life!


John Johnson


RAM wrote on October 04, 2012 at 11:10 am

I guess my concern is that we were better much of last year.  On the defensive side especially we look like we are lost in space.