1. It’s as ugly as we thought it was going to be. That doesn’t make it any easier, but at least the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. That’s depressing to type, because after Northwestern they’ll be another nine months to wait until football season returns, but mostly everyone is ready for the sweet release of the off-season. Hopefully from December through August the team is able to get healthy, get stronger, get even more familiar with the offensive and defensive schemes and next year is the payoff. It will at the very least be the first year that provides ample evidence as to whether this is working, or going to work.
To this point it’s impossible to gauge whether Lovie’s got this thing pointing in the right direction. The talent he brought in with his first recruiting class is without a doubt superior to the talent Illinois has had in years, but, until it starts producing wins it doesn’t matter. It hasn’t produced many this year, and so far (and probably not at all) none inside the Big Ten.
It was depressing and a test of resolve to say this season probably won’t tell us much back in August, but that same sentiment still rings true, and it’s almost time to bank the 2017 season and keep it for only comparisons sake.
2. While I’m trying so damn hard to remain patient, I’ll say that changing coordinators would be a bad idea for the future of the program, but man, Garrick McGee has really mailed it in this year. Injuries and youth are the excuses his defenders can use to deal with the abhorrent offensive performances this year, but his response to those setbacks has been uncreative bad football and questionable personnel decisions. McGee is one of my favorite interviews I can remember from Illinois football, and I wish he’d show 40% of that personality and ingenuity while devising plays for this team. Next year is a big year for this team in terms of growth - it’s an even bigger year for the progress of McGee’s offense.
3. Get healthy Cam Thomas! The pleasant performance against Purdue filled my Illini heart with hope and joy; and the forecasting experience I looked forward to with freshman at almost every position. There is juice in Thomas legs that haven’t been seen at the quarterback position in quite some time - if I’m thinking of that top end speed? Maybe not ever. Thomas has a long way to go as a passer, but what he provides in this meantime is an exciting watch and the ability to make things happen behind a young offensive line. This past week in comparison was a miserable watch. Jeff George Jr. has many faults that render him a poor quarterback, and I don’t want to take this platform to pile on young adults when they’re down. If he could trust his reads and let the ball go more quickly he’d probably cut back on the sacks and turnovers - but that’s easier said than done. So...please get healthy Cam Thomas!