Spartan Nation 2008 scouting report:Â Illinois Fighting Illini
Biggest Game:Â October 4, 2008 @ Michigan
Predicted record:Â 8-4 (4-4)
Projected Big Ten standing:Â 6th Â Â Â Â
Returning Starters:Â OFFENSE:Â 7 DEFENSE:Â 6 Lettermen return:Â 44Â Â Â
Head Coach:Â Ron Zook 4th Season at Illinois Last Season 9-4 Lifetime:Â 36-37
Top assistant:Â Co DCâ€™s Dan Disch and Curt Mallory
Although every many were shocked with a 9-4 record last season, readers of Spartan Nation expected much improvement as I talked about it in my preseason scouting reports.Â Zook is one of the best recruiters in the nation and although not an elite game day coach he is still more than adequate.
Coaches take cheap shots privately and JLS even did so publically, but that is because Zook out works many people.Â He is a recruiting machine that lives and breaths it.Â He once again brought in a top class and the Illini although I donâ€™t think they will get to the 9 regulars season wins of last season, I do think they will get to eight.
The biggest question on this team is at RB and if they can even remotely get production there this team will reach all my predictions.Â I donâ€™t think they have to get Mendenhall numbers as they have one of the best WR corps in the nation and Juice (QB) is a much more accurate passer.
They are facing Missouri early and I think they will win that game.Â They have kept that game on their mind ever since the loss.Â It was a game that they should have won.Â The Illini had to be convinced they could win.Â This season they know they can.
I think going into the Big House and winning against UM on a down season will be tough for them.Â If they are able to do so then this season could be special also.Â They have been thumped there so much that I think the intimidation will be too big.
If you click on the Hondoâ€™s House ICON on the right of this page you will see an interview that I did with Zook when he first got this job.Â I said then that if the fan base would be patient Zook would deliver and he has.Â Now they come in with huge major facility improvements and the optimism of a program that is back, the emotional up tick is all over the campus.
Another tough task will be a November 8 game with WMU at Ford Field.Â WMU is going to be a very good football team this season and with the best defensive backfield in the nation.Â If Illinois canâ€™t run against the Broncos that is a defeat.Â