URBANA — Brandon Peters is getting a little more comfortable with the Illinois offense as each day of training camp progresses. The final segment of 11-on-11s on Thursday showed it. And not just for Peters. Isaiah Williams and Matt Robinson made plays and finished drives, too, a day after the offense struggled.
“I see a lot of good things so far,” Peters said. “We just keep getting better. I’m not really used to an uptempo offense coming from Michigan. I like that it helps you get in a flow and a groove a little bit.”
While the Illinois quarterbacks found a groove at the end of Thursday’s practice, the offense still isn’t playing with the pace coordinator Rod Smith expects. The offense will probably never be as fast as Smith wants, but he said there’s some progress being made. Just not enough.
“We have no tempo right now as a whole as an offense,” Smith said. “There is no tempo right now. We’re as slow as I’ve ever seen. We’ve got to address that as coaches and as a staff. That comes with effort. We’ve got to get a little more effort out of our guys.
“Part of it’s probably because we’re thinking. When you have to think it slows your feet down and you don’t react. Still, there’s really no excuse for effort to get lined up and play fast.”
Peters said getting the signal from the sideline and getting the offense lined up in an expedient manner is something he had to adjust to after transferring from Michigan. The time he put in meeting with Smith after he arrived in Champaign before training camp, though, made that transition a little smoother in just understanding what Smith wants in his offense.
“When I first got here he kind of laid out the basics,” Peters said. “I keep adding things as camp goes on. Meeting with him and having those three weeks before camp really helped a lot. I’m feeling things better. You kind of adapt a little bit.”
Peters said he’s been able to show his ability to read defenses and get the ball out of his hand quickly so far in camp, while also limiting turnovers and sack opportunities for the defense. He’s also continuing to develop a rapport with the Illinois receivers.
Smith wants more. From all of his quarterbacks.
“Eye discipline,” the Illini offensive coordinator said was an area the quarterbacks had to clean up before the Aug. 31 opener against Akron. “We’ve got to make sure we’re making the right reads and right decisions at the right times. That’s not just throw game. That’s run game as well.
“We’re always working on our timing. We’re always working on our ball placement and accuracy and making sure we’re delivering the football in the right place.”