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#AskTCR: Bye Week Blues


Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Our beloved Fighting Illini have this Saturday off, meaning we don't have to watch them lose AND I get a free Saturday to run around and do things other than watch the game and write the instant recap! HOORAY!

Except then I remember that I have a surgery exam Monday morning and that I'm anesthetist for a surgery that afternoon. So ... not hooray, I guess.

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African or European?


Every so often, we'll get people asking more or less the exact same question and when it isn't "WHY HAVEN'T THEY FIRED BECKMAN YET", it manages to make me smile.

Who wins this weekend? Well guess what, it's you.


I agree that Aaron Bailey's redshirt was burnt too late, but I don't think burning Chayce Crouch's would have been the better move. I highly doubt that Crouch is good enough at this point in his incredibly young career to warrant being thrown to the wolves like that. I wouldn't put any true freshman behind that offensive line right now.

Kyle Fuller would be really fun to watch play for the Illini, but we have much bigger problems than our cornerbacks so he doesn't get the nod. I've narrowed it down to Stephen Paea or Willie Young and I think I have to give the nod to Paea. Plugging the big guy in at defensive tackle would take away the middle of the line from opponents, tremendously helping our porous run defense. He's a good enough pass rushing threat that he'd require a double team on every snap too, allowing the rest of the defense better odds of breaking through into the backfield.


An email from WilliamsForThree-

We have 5 games remaining. With the magic of, well, magic, you are able to map out exactly how they unfold to get your desired outcome for our program for this season and beyond (you can decide not only wins and losses but if are they close losses, blowouts, huge gorgeous wins, etc.). If a coaching change is desired, clearly you cannot have us win out or maybe win at all. Or, have us win out and Beckman is retained and yadda, yadda, yadda. What say you?

I get to play God? I'm intrigued. It would take at least four more wins at this point to save Beckman's job, as the Purdue loss removed the "make a bowl game, stay in Champaign" clause. I don't want to see that. Knowing that, I also don't want to see the team lose out because that sucks.

Minnesota- I'd like a close loss. It's Homecoming, so a blowout would suck. But a ten point loss in those spiffy new uniforms against a surprisingly good Gophers squad? I could live with that.

@ Ohio State- The final real road game of the season. As much fun as a chaos win here would be, I'm not wasting my magic on it. A loss by three scores feels right.

Iowa- Mostly because their fanbase annoys the hell out of me, I want this to be our upset of the year. Open the game with a pick six and never let off the throttle. I'm talking a complete beatdown.

Penn State- Another rather annoying fanbase, but whatever. I only want five wins to be damn sure we get a new coaching staff, so I can't let us win this one.

@ Northwestern- "But Mark, you've only picked four wins so far!" I have the capacity for benevolence. So for Tim Beckman's last game as the Illini football coach, I'm giving him a last second win over the Wildcats up in Evanston. Wes Lunt throws an 87 yard bomb to Mike Dudek, ensuring that NW misses a bowl game again and infuriating Fitzy to no end.


Pre-broken Lunt, we seemed to be calling a lot of flea flickers. But yeah, if Bailey is going to be the starting QB til Lunt returns, I'm all for getting weird with it. May as well makes things interesting.


I've really enjoyed it, so I have to go with positive. When they revealed the grey ghost uniforms yesterday, one of my first thought's was this scene from Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon. This season has gone very poorly, but I'll be damned if we haven't at least looked good (aesthetically speaking) during it. Maybe it's all been a secret part of the rebranding? 2014: get sexy new uniforms. 2015: get a sexy new coach.


Depending on when Lunt gets back, I could see anywhere from zero to two more wins. Honestly, I think the next two games will be the hardest ones left this year. Minnesota's running attack is too good for our defense and Ohio State is still Ohio State. But getting Iowa and Penn State at home is nice and a road trip to Evanston isn't really much of a road trip. Those three teams have all played very good defense, but combined it with horrid offense. When our offense is rolling, those games might actually be winnable. Not promises, probably not even toss ups, but a shot at winnable. So I guess I'll go with a final record of 4-8. Call me an optimist.


An email from Michael-

I was at the Illinois at Wisconsin game last weekend (as an away fan of course), and once Bailey came in, you could see the players excitement for him. They were jumping around, there seemed to be an optimism surrounding this kid that no other person in the program is capable of bringing. Similar to Juice, do you see Bailey being the "it guy" who players, coaches, and a fanbase can truly rally behind?

I know that a good chunk of the fanbase wants him to be that guy. I'm just not as optimistic. He's got a cannon for an arm and can run better than Juice could and that's all fantastic. But until he learns some accuracy, I don't think he can be the primary QB. Our horrid offensive line can be masked somewhat by a scrambling QB, but we'll lose pretty much all of our downfield passing game if he takes over. I would love to see him come in on short yardage situations once Wes is back, but I don't think starting Aaron over Lunt is the right decision if both are healthy. I don't want to see Dudek wasted like Arrelious Benn was.

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