VIDEO: Illinois Head Coach Lovie Smith After 1st Day Of Preseason Practice

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois head coach Lovie Smith spoke to reporters following the Illini's first day of preseason practice on Wednesday. 

Smith addressed a variety of topics including the coronavirus, the Big Ten Conference schedule, roster issues and early depth issues on his 2020 roster. 

Smith took Illinois to the Redbox Bowl in 2019, the Illini's first bowl in five years, after clinching a berth with a thrilling 37-34 victory at Michigan State. Illinois trailed 28-3 in the second quarter and 31-10 entering the fourth before completing the biggest comeback in program history. 

In his "signature win," Smith led the Fighting Illini to one of the biggest upsets in Big Ten history with a 24-23 victory over No. 6 Wisconsin on Oct. 19, 2019. Illinois entered the day as a 30-point underdog before James McCourt's 39-yard field goal as time expired sent Illini fans rushing to the Memorial Stadium field in one of the greatest Homecoming scenes in University of Illinois history. Smith was named the Dodd Trophy National Coach of the Week and the Illini were named the Reveal Suits National Team of the Week. 

Smith returned to college football for the first time since 1996 after spending 19 years in the NFL, including 11 years as a head coach. He owns an 89-87 (.506) career record as an NFL head coach from 2004-2012 and 2014-2015 and went 3-3 in playoff games, including one trip to the Super Bowl. He also has a Super Bowl appearance as the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams.

Smith spent two years as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014-15), where the Bucs improved from two victories in 2014 to six wins in 2015 with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.

Smith was the head coach of the Chicago Bears for nine seasons from 2004-12 and amassed a record of 81-63 (.563) including three division titles, two NFC Championship Game appearances (2006, 2010) and a berth in Super Bowl XLI.

The Illini have less than a month to prepare for a scheduled season opener on Thursday night Sept. 3 against Big Ten defending champion Ohio State, who was ranked No. 2 in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll released Thursday morning.

Comments

Football

FEATURED
COMMUNITY