After Thursday’s spring game cancellation, Illini football was still able to put on a show to the fans in a scrimmage-like display.
In a hybrid between a practice and a scrimmage, Illinois gave the public its first look at the talent heading into the 2023 season.
The main thing everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of was incoming Ole Miss QB Luke Altmyer.
And he definitely delivered.
“He understands football very easily,” said head coach Bret Bielema after the scrimmage. “It comes to him naturally. He’s a very accurate, good passer.”
The offense shined in the scrimmage. Altmyer connected with WR Pat Bryant on a pair of touchdowns and he showcased his dual-threat abilities with a few long scrambles.
“Offensively I thought we executed pretty well,” Bielema said. “Really good to see kind of a good crowd out there. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but it was awesome.”
The Law Firm — star DLs Keith Randolph Jr. and Jer’Zahn Newton — only played the first part of the scrimmage, which was non-tackle.
Despite seeing mostly the second team on the defensive side of the ball, Bielema still saw a lot of positives from his defense.
“Defensively we played with a good attitude and good energy,” Bielema said. “I saw some good open field tackling.”
Head coach Bret Bielema talks tonight’s spring scrimmage and QB Luke Altmyer pic.twitter.com/3iTBIeYWyS— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) April 22, 2023
Another storyline was that CB Devon Witherspoon — a soon-to-be first-pick in next week’s NFL Draft — was in attendance on the sidelines of the scrimmage.
Filling the shoes of a player like Witherspoon is a tough task for the Illini defense, but his presence shows the next guys up the potential long-term success of playing in this program.
Devon Witherspoon here for the Illini spring practice. The soon to be 1st round pick is back at Memorial for potentially the last time before the NFL Draft pic.twitter.com/DVdmNJK03C— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) April 22, 2023
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of good players,” Bielema said. “My phone the last four weeks, really since the [NFL] Combine, everybody’s just trying to gather information and it’s fun.”
While we still are four months away from Week One hosting Toledo, it’s exciting to get an idea of the talent this roster has and the possibilities for this upcoming season.