How good is Illinois junior running back Reggie Corbin?
“[He] can make a coach on the sidelines have his hands on his knees looking the other way for five minutes,” said Illinois offensive coordinator Rod Smith.
Whether Smith was referring to now-former Minnesota defensive coordinator Robb Smith or just any old coach, Corbin has definitely been having that effect through nine games in 2018.
And Corbin’s efforts were validated Monday when he was named Illinois’ first Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week since Wes Lunt in September 2014.
“Corbin was outstanding,” said head coach Lovie Smith. “In order for that to happen, the offensive line has to do a great job, and they did.”
The line provided assistance in Corbin’s 213-yard, two-touchdown day, which was part of the Illini’s 55-31 win over the Gophers — Illinois’ first home Big Ten win in nearly two years.
As part of his record day — the 213 yards were the eighth-most in school history — Corbin had touchdown scampers of 72 (the game’s second play) and 77 yards.
“I didn’t know I had that many yards, or that many carries,” he said after the win. “I never really care for stuff like that, as long as I play hard... I just gotta keep getting better.”
He leads the nation in 80+-yard runs (1), 70+-yard runs (4), 60+-yard runs (5) and 50+-yard runs (7).
“When you hit the defense [with a couple 70-yarders], it’s demoralizing,” Rod Smith said. “Whenever you bust long runs, those are game-changing runs.”
The last time an Illini was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week? Wes Lunt after passing for 456 yards and three touchdowns against Western Kentucky in September 2014.
Corbin shares the week’s honor with Purdue wide receiver Terry Wright.
“Happy for [Corbin],” Rod Smith said. “He deserves it. He has been doing this all year long, and I’m happy to see him get some praise out there to recognize his efforts because he’s very well deserving and works his tail off.
“I don’t think Reggie would ever be a guy that you need to worry if it goes to his head. He tries to get better and improve himself every single week.”
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