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Expectations haven’t changed for Lovie Smith

Lovie Smith talks for the first time since the cancellation of sports

Redbox Bowl - California v Illinois Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In a world where sports are canceled due to a worldwide pandemic, Illinois Football head coach Lovie Smith is still hopeful that football will be played.

“Eventually, we’re going to play football, but in the meantime we are going to do what we can that is bigger than football,” Smith said in a teleconference Friday.

What could possibly be bigger than the game of football?

“As far as I know, we don’t have anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. But since we haven’t been tested, not known for sure. But no known cases for the staff or players.”

The health and conditioning of his team is taking an unexpected turn as everyone is trying to find new ways to stay in shape.

And clearly guys are doing whatever they can with — whatever they can.

Despite the shift in workout rooms, the Illini’s preparation for 2020 hasn’t changed.

“[We are] allowed to talk with our student-athletes eight hours a week, two hours a day. We still have position and group meetings remotely,” Smith said. “We get a little bit better at it each day. We’re getting a lot of good work done away from everyone.”

While there is only so much Lovie and Co. can do, his goal remains the same.

“Before this virus hit we were preparing to have the best season we had in our time at the University of Illinois. Nothing has changed.”