clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

#AskTCR: Big questions entering fall camp

Answering the fans’ biggest questions.

Illinois v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

I’m bringing back an old segment here at TCR, where you ask us questions, and I give you my thoughts and opinions on whatever topic you want me to discuss.

The week of, we’ll post on all socials, but if you can’t wait till then, drop your questions in the comment section, tag us in a tweet with the hashtag #AskTCR or DM me directly.

With fall camp approaching and football right around the corner, let’s proceed with the first edition of #AskTCR in 2022.

Got this question in a few different formats.

From Facebook:

Will we be competitive? Hoping for some noticeable improvement.

and just, Bowl Game?

Much like Robert Rosenthal of, I am one of the 17 fans that cares more about football than basketball. I am usually optimistic about winning at least six games every year. Now, the last decade has taken a few years off my life—especially that 2019 team that finally got us to a bowl.

Usually, our floor is 3 wins, but in 2022, the floor has to be 6 wins. After narrowly missing a bowl last season, we cannot accept anything else. Ryan Walters will have the defense cooking. The pass defense will continue to shine and the Illini added a few transfers on the line.

The offense should be revitalized. Barry Lunney smoked us last year and his offensive philosophy should continue with the personnel he inherited at Illinois. The Illini added a few weapons at wide receivers and Tommy Devito (a transfer from Syracuse) at QB, while maintaining its strong presence on the offensive line. I expect less second-guessing and a better pace in the 2022 offense. For the first time in a while, the Illini upgraded at major positions.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 09 Illinois at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

That was a long way to say that 2022 is still a building year but a bowl game is the floor.

Wins: Wyoming, Indiana, Chattanooga, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern

Tossups: Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan State

Losses: Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan

Depends on the position.

Matters: QB, RB, O-Line, D-Line, and Linebacker you need a lot of depth in college football, especially in Bielema’s tough, gritty, in-the-trenches, style of play.

Doesn’t matter: The rest, you hope to god they succeed. We are talking about 18 to 22-year-olds that still have to mature in the game. You kind of hope they succeed in the position they play, but if not, it's the next man up. That’s how Kerby Joseph got his calling.

For the Illini in the positions that matters, the biggest hesitation I have is on the D-line. Bielema/Walters and Lovie Smith have different schemes (odd vs. even) when it comes to the defense. The Illini haven’t had the chance to recruit and develop in two years. We have a first string, but production falls off fast after that.

Let’s hope not. I really hope we don’t have to use Art Sitkowski this year. Tommy Devito has a good arm and chip on his shoulder. People also forget that true freshman Donovan Leary is the younger brother of North Carolina State QB Devin Leary, one of the better QBs in the ACC this year.

Rutgers v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

I agree that being one-dimensional this year will ruin any progress. But Lunney’s offenses were great in 2020 and 2021 at UTSA.

  • 2020: Rushing 9th, Passing 39th
  • 2021: Rushing 30th, Passing 24th

The Illini ranked in the 100s in passing and 60s in rushing. Just looking at the scheme, the offense will be better.

And finally.

Via Facebook: What will be the defining matchup to determine our season?

As I mentioned, this is a rebuilding year, but at the same time, a bowl game is the floor. Thus, the homecoming game against Minnesota and the away game on Halloween weekend against Nebraska in Lincoln are both must-win gut checks.