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** 2021 Opponent Previews : Illinois (Game 1) **


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HuskerOnline: Illinois Opponent Review 2021

With spring practices now wrapped up around the country, HuskerOnline.com will look at where each of Nebraska’s 12 opponents in 2021 currently stands coming out of spring ball and heading into the summer. We start things off today by looking at Nebraska’s season and Big Ten-opener at Illinois on Aug. 28. The Fighting Illini will have a new look this year, with former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema taking over the program. We caught up with OrangeandBlueNews.com publisher Doug Bucshon to learn more about what the Huskers can expect from their first foe this fall.

 

Early outlook on Illinois vs. Nebraska

Buchson: "It's a big question mark because of the entirely new coaching staff and system and players shuffling around. So we really don't know what to expect from Illinois.

"The positive for them is it's a home game, but I think Nebraska is going to be favored. I expect Illinois to go through some growing pains early in the season, and having that Nebraska game to open the season is not ideal for Illinois. "So I would favor Nebraska in that game just because Illinois is just trying to get their feet wet with the new systems in place."

Overall 2021 win-loss expectation 

Buchson: "I think the goal for them this first year is to make a bowl game, and I think they're going to do that. "The schedule is favorable for them, so I think they'll get to six wins. They have some teams on the schedule that, on paper, look like they should be easy wins. "When they get to the Big Ten (schedule), they'll just have to win three games to get to a bowl game. So I think six wins is realistically what we're looking at for this year."

https://nebraska.n.rivals.com/news/spring-opponent-review-illinois-2

 


 

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The Athletic: With many seniors back, Illinois coaches pleasantly surprised. Bielema’s predictable plan: strong run, stout defense.

Ask Bret Bielema about the barometer for his first Illinois team entering fall camp, and the mile-a-minute coach defers to the well-worn cliches of getting better every day, and of not putting any number goals or expectations around this group.

Drill the first-year Illini coach down a little more on internal expectations — how much of the playbook should these guys know, what kind of physical shape should they be in — and Bielema will give you some reasoning behind his holistic philosophy.

“If you get that specific, that’s all you’ll get,” he said. “I want them to understand that success doesn’t have definitions, right? It doesn’t have parameters. It’s about where you wanna go. The one thing I learned in this lifetime is I think, in particular, young men coming in will only go to where they see themselves going. If you build them in a way that they’re gonna go beyond what’s in front of them, usually you view success beyond what people think.”

Perception and reality can be difficult to define when it comes to this Illini outfit. Instead of the usual attrition that follows a coaching change, Illinois returns 20 of 25 players who were listed as seniors on the 2020 roster. There are 17 returning scholarship seniors from last year’s roster, the most among Power 5 teams. Only Ball State has more four-year letter winners (11) than Illinois’ 10, which also matches USC and Toledo.

https://theathletic.com/2623158/2021/06/02/with-many-seniors-back-illinois-coaches-pleasantly-surprised-bielemas-predictable-plan-strong-run-stout-defense/

 

 

 

 

More Coming soon...

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Illinois got back 10/15 players who could have graduated or went pro. Veteran QB and 4 OL starters back. Did lose their stud WR. Defense they got their DL and most secondary. Lost Hansen who was a solid LB. Overall they should be a decent football team. 

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1 hour ago, BIG ERN said:

Illinois got back 10/15 players who could have graduated or went pro. Veteran QB and 4 OL starters back. Did lose their stud WR. Defense they got their DL and most secondary. Lost Hansen who was a solid LB. Overall they should be a decent football team. 

key word "should".  As a Nebraska fan I think most of us have that phrase in our head.  Nebraska should be a decent football team.  Haven't seen it in a while tho.  We return most of our team minus 4 contributors.  We should be a decent team this year.  I agree with a previous post that this is the most important game of the year.  Sets the tone.

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3 hours ago, MyBloodIsRed16 said:

key word "should".  As a Nebraska fan I think most of us have that phrase in our head.  Nebraska should be a decent football team.  Haven't seen it in a while tho.  We return most of our team minus 4 contributors.  We should be a decent team this year.  I agree with a previous post that this is the most important game of the year.  Sets the tone.


Agree on both and we have no excuses to not at least get to a bowl game even with the tough schedule. 

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On 4/20/2021 at 12:33 PM, BIG ERN said:


Agree on both and we have no excuses to not at least get to a bowl game even with the tough schedule. 

Yeah, I guess. How long has that been the refrain?  As to Illinois, Bielema is a solid coach, and a substantial upgrade from Lovey.

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3 hours ago, ReddyRed said:

Yeah, I guess. How long has that been the refrain?  As to Illinois, Bielema is a solid coach, and a substantial upgrade from Lovey.

Yes, I think he’s a good coach. But, he didn’t do well at Arkansas. I’m not convinced he’s going to make Illinois competitive either.  

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17 hours ago, ReddyRed said:

Yeah, I guess. How long has that been the refrain?  As to Illinois, Bielema is a solid coach, and a substantial upgrade from Lovey.

I would say it's a push. Lovey was a super bowl level defensive mind that brought consistency and discipline to Illinois. The overall talent and development of recruits was probably the biggest stain on his tenure. Most of the success he every had was from getting mass transfers of upper classmen from other programs to maintain competitiveness. His offenses were practically scattershot and tended towards being pretty poor.

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31 minutes ago, deedsker said:

I would say it's a push. Lovey was a super bowl level defensive mind that brought consistency and discipline to Illinois. The overall talent and development of recruits was probably the biggest stain on his tenure. Most of the success he every had was from getting mass transfers of upper classmen from other programs to maintain competitiveness. His offenses were practically scattershot and tended towards being pretty poor.

 

I think he had a quote after being fired that he never even got his full defense installed.. he had 5 years. He got them to play hard and force turnovers, but the issues you mentioned and needing to dumb down the defense to a point where OCs looked forward to playing against it is a lot to overcome.

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18 hours ago, ReddyRed said:

Yeah, I guess. How long has that been the refrain?  As to Illinois, Bielema is a solid coach, and a substantial upgrade from Lovey.

 

What possible criteria must one be using in order to make the bolded statement?  There really is no point in using any record from Wisconsin considering he was merely a puppet for puppet master Barry.  29-34 was the record at Arkansas.  Lovie meanwhile had a record of 81-63 at the Bears, made it to the Super Bowl, and made the NFC Championship game three times in nine seasons.  

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2 minutes ago, Husker in WI said:

 

I think he had a quote after being fired that he never even got his full defense installed.. he had 5 years. He got them to play hard and force turnovers, but the issues you mentioned and needing to dumb down the defense to a point where OCs looked forward to playing against it is a lot to overcome.

But he was that smart/talented to have the calling card. What does Bielema bring to the table that is elevate Illinois? He had ok teams at Arkansas that did the basics well and he beat a couple of overrated teams in his tenure.

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