VIDEO: Illini Offensive Coordinator Rod Smith Talks Day 3 of Preseason Practice

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith took media questions via Zoom video conferencing following the third day of preseason practices.

On Saturday, Smith discussed topics including more COVID-19 protocols including the Big Ten Conference decision to pause on letting any of its teams have full-contact padded practices, Smith's thoughts on the offensive line, tight ends and tailback situation in his offense and the experience of returning starting quarterback Brandon Peters.

Rod Smith is in his third season as offensive coordinator at Illinois in 2020. Smith was hired by head coach Lovie Smith on Jan. 19, 2018, coming to Champaign-Urbana after six seasons as co-offensive coordinator with the Arizona Wildcats.

Smith helped lead Illinois to the 2019 Redbox Bowl, the program's first bowl in five years, after two of the most memorable victories in Illini history. Illinois clinched bowl eligibility with a 37-34 win at Michigan State in the biggest comeback in program history. Illinois trailed 28-3 in the second quarter and 31-10 entering the fourth to tie the largest fourth-quarter comeback in a Big Ten game in the last 40 seasons by outscoring Michigan State 27-3 in the fourth quarter, including Daniel Barker's game-winning touchdown reception from Brandon Peters with five seconds left. Illinois' 27 fourth-quarter points were the most by an opponent in the 96-year, 544-game history of Michigan State's Spartan Stadium.

Smith engineered a huge turnaround to the Illinois offense in 2018, led by All-Big Ten running back Reggie Corbin. Corbin was third in FBS in yards per carry (8.5) during the regular season as Illinois leaped in the national rankings to 12th in rushing yards per game (+110 spots in the rankings), second in 40+ yard runs (+93), 51st in yards per play (+73) and 62nd in total offense (+64).

Smith brought more than 22 years of coaching experience to Illinois and has coached in 10 bowl games. Prior to his stop at Arizona, Smith was co-offensive coordinator at Indiana (2011), quarterbacks coach at Michigan (2008-10), quarterbacks coach at West Virginia (2007), offensive coordinator at South Florida (2005-06), and quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at USF from 2001-04.

Smith coached quarterbacks under Rich Rodriquez at Michigan from 2008-10 and at West Virginia in 2007. He helped develop two of the most explosive signal callers in Rodriguez' offensive system, WVU's Pat White and Michigan's Denard Robinson.

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