Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Scrimmage

Ron Zook continued his tradition of holding a spring practice scrimmage in the Chicagoland area this weekend. My schedule only allowed me to catch about the last hour of the team on the field, but it was enough to get me excited about Illini football.

The offense looks great -- not surprising, as that is a general consensus this spring. The receivers are promising and the high expectations for this group are justified. But I also saw a few pretty cuts in the running game that picked up extra yards, and Juice and Eddie McGee both had a few nice runs.

However, the defense has plenty of work to do before the 2009 season begins. The tendancy to miss tackles or allow guys to bounce off tackles continued. There were a few plays where they did a nice job pressuring the QB, but much of the time the ball moved forward easily. Concerns about the defense also seemed to be a general consensus, at least from the fans sitting near me. I heard a couple comments, and when I voiced my own concerns, even Martez Wilson's uncle agreed that these guys have work to do over the next few months.

Co-defensive coordinators Dan Disch and Curt Mallory need to see a leader emerge, and they need to reinforce the fundamentals to get their boys ready. Fortunately, they've got time.

That said, the athletic ability appears to be there on both sides of the ball. The Illini should continue to be recognized for their "explosive" offense, and with continuous improvement on the other side of the ball, the 2009 football season will be a lot of fun.

Go Illini!


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