Spartan Nation 2009 Football Scouting Report: University of Illinois

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Spartan Nation 2009 Scouting Report: University of Illinois

Biggest Game: November 27, 2009 @ Cincinnati

Predicted record: 10-2 (6-2)

Projected Big Ten standing: 3rd

Returning Starters: 13; OFFENSE 8, DEFENSE 5 Lettermen returning: 46

Head Coach: Ron Zook 5th Season at Illinois Last Season: 5-7 Lifetime: 41-44

Top assistant: Mike Schultz OC

Number of Players on the All Spartan Nation Big Ten Team: One; WR Arrelious Benn

Analysis: The Illini are loaded with talent at every position. Ron Zook has his critics, but you can’t criticize his ability to recruit. The Illini are set to make a big comeback after a disappointing 2008 campaign.
Zook’s team will be led by Juice Williams who burst on the scene against MSU as a true freshman. Williams has never had his athleticism questioned, but his decision-making has been. He has matured greatly since the Spartan Nation last saw him.

The Illini’s talent level is amazing when you look at every position, and critics of Zook’s coaching ability need only remember when the Illini went into Columbus in 2007 and beat the Buckeyes who were then rated #1 in the nation at home.

I think critics of Zook aren’t fair. He was in a no-win situation at Florida when Spurrier left while the cupboard was bare. He stocked the cupboards, got fired and Urban Meyer won a national title with his guys. He is tireless as a recruiter, and whether or not you like him he is exactly like he comes off in interviews and in public.

Don’t get me wrong, Zook’s teams seem to be their own worst enemy with stupid mistakes, but at Florida and up to this year at Illinois he has always had young teams. This season will tell everyone the story about Zook. They are experienced, they won’t be relying on youth and we shall see exactly what kind of coach he is in favorable conditions.

Football games are won with good athletes and the Illini have them. We shall see if they have the good coaching that can handle expectations. I have always felt that circumstance has dictated some of Zook’s critics, and I expect them to have a good season.

I contemplated making MSU their biggest game, but a loss there would not be disheartening. The Spartans will be a good football team. I called for the Cincinnati game on the road, because that game (which I predict them to win) is one that young Zook teams have lost in the past. If they can maneuver a good schedule and get a nice win on the road at Cincinnati they can have a special season.

Predicted Win/Loss:
1.Missouri WIN
2.Illinois State WIN
3.@ Ohio State LOSS
4.Penn State LOSS
5.Michigan State WIN
6.@ Indiana WIN
7.@ Purdue WIN
8.Michigan WIN
9.@ Minnesota WIN
10.Northwestern WIN
11.@ Cincinnati WIN
12.Fresno State WIN