Nice Things Illinois Has, Updated for Week 9 of 2015.
A winning record! (Week 9)
An undefeated record at home this year. (Week 8) Will Chryst (no) or Meyer (lol) lose their minds as well?
No shutouts since 45-0 at Michigan in 2012 (Week 9)
A chance, in field goal range, to end the shutout by Penn State Lunt promptly muffed the snap for a 7 yard loss, taking us out of field goal range.
-Illinois has only lost to Iowa
once twice (Week 6) since 2007.
Depth at RB (Week 5) with SR Josh Ferguson (AC sprain. May return for Purdue?), RS JR Devin Church (transferred to EIU), RS SO Kendrick Foster, who may need to take snaps now who is somehow not good enough to see the field even in dire straits , 3-star FR Reggie Corbin(torn labrum; season), 4-star FR Dre Brown(ACL), JUCO transfer Henry Enyenihi and 4-star FR Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who is pretty decent at pass blocking. Good, since that's all Cubit seems to want to use him for.
-A replacement-level offensive line in the passing game. Considering Wes Lunt has no mobility, the fairly low number of sacks they've allowed is a miracle.
-Wide reciever hands,
apparently all amputated by Tim Beckman as some kind of bizarre motivational ploy before the season Coming into the PSU game, they had 40 drops on the season. That's over 5 a game.
Dual-threat QB Aaron Bailey, thoughts of whom pulled us through the disastrous 2012 season. Wouldn't a running QB have been nice against the Nittany Lions? Seriously, I remember in 2012 when Aaron Bailey was going to make us fun to watch in the coming years. Now we have no running quarterbacks and one healthy receiver who isn't a freshman. I don't know what to get excited about next year other than...
-Mike Dudek's redshirt, which was officially declared prior to Week 9. Bill Cubit has enough compassion for Illini fans to redshirt Dudek instead of burning it to try to audition for the full-time gig.
Four downs to gain 10 yards just like everyone else (Week 5 showed that sometimes we don't)
-A halfway decent defensive line, which constantly overran plays and played themselves right out of the NFL draft by making Christian Hackenberg look like Michael Vick.
Junior WR Justin Hardee (broken foot in offseason)
Stalwart DT Teko Powell and veteran LB Mike Svetina returning from foot injuries that they both re-aggravated, requiring surgery
If all goes according to plan, all Illinois games will be on TV this year (Week 1; postponement due to lightning left this game without a broadcast crew)
-No arrests this season
An uninspiring-at-best kicking battle between Tayler Zalewski and David Reisner Seemingly settled by Tayler Zalewski, though we should really worry about how to generate extra points before worrying about how to execute them.
-A 19-season streak of not losing to Nebraska at home.
An 3-game streak of actually competing against conference opponents (Week 9) All I want is to go into every game knowing there's a chance. For 3 weeks we played competitive football against our conference mates. Why did I have to be so rudely awakened from the dream that is a 1-2 stretch where we don't look utterly lost?
Hope, against all odds, that the next coach hired will lead us to the promised land, invigorated by the lack of competition for similar jobs at the beginning of the year
-The perception that Illinois is a terrible team capable of only terrible things and requiring no further explanation
makes for some really fun message board lurking when the Illini win a conference game is apparently 100% accurate and I'm a fool for trying to understand why.
-We still have the LOLHAT, but Northwestern, please don't get too mad at us if some hooligans sneak by Tim Banks by running off tackle and steal it before we get to Chicago. Tim Banks has no idea how to put people in position to stop that.
-The Incomparable Three-in-One, despite the best efforts of our former faculty. Despite the fact that our beloved halftime show predates Chief Illiniwek, this suite of three songs faces constant attack by the professionally outraged. Can't we just say: "Trigger Warning: Here is the nationally famous Three-in-One!"?
Things That Are Not Nice But Are Still Things Illinois Has
Tim Beckman (Week 1)
-Wes "The Statue Of Limitations" Lunt, on whose arm Bill Cubit attempted to compete with Tommy Armstrong's putrid passing line in Champaign. 16/37 for 129 yards! Good job!
-An offensive line that suddenly becomes a set of turnstiles every time we hand the ball off.
-Do we actually have linebackers still? I never seem to notice them anymore.
-The receiving end of a highlight worthy of a B1G vs. FCS game, when Hackenberg scored on a throwback pass.
-Bill Cubit, who finally after two years has the offense he wants to run with no distractions. Some depth issues exist due to injury, but this is how he constructed the roster to run the offense in his image. It is terrible and has scored 47 points in 4 B1G games. The only time Illinois under Bill Cubit has had success on offense against a B1G team was when they ran Cubit's system with a QB who could also scramble (2013 under Scheelhaase, 2014 under O'Toole). In fact, Lunt was removed from the PSU game last year for this reason. Thanks, Bill Cubit. You now have me lamenting the loss of Reilly O'Toole. I never once prior to 2014 thought that Reilly O'Toole would be key to our success, but I'd take him back in a heartbeat.
-A road game at Purdue, who just scored 55 on the same Nebraska defense that held us to 14. To be fair, 14 is one of Illinois' best offensive performance in the conference, second only to our 20-point explosion at Iowa.
-A staff that refuses to make adjustments. I don't know when the last time we actually made an in-game adjustment besides benching a quarterback was. It was certainly before my time as a fan. However, I do know that if I were assembling a team from my office to play Illinois, I'd run off tackle.
-It wasn't enough to get out-footballed badly at Penn State. Taylor Barton got Liu Kang'd by Saquon Barkley. I didn't see this, as I'd long since turned off the game and used my life somewhat productively.
-Athletic director Mike Thomas, who is almost certainly going to hire PJ Fleck
-Pending release of that external investigation whose preliminary reports prompted an immediate head coach firing. This thing is going to land during the season, and it's entirely possible that more heads are gonna roll.
-Vacancies in the Provost and Chancellor chairs.
-The unofficial voice of Illinois Football, Beth Mowins (weeks 3/9)
Men's Basketball Never mind, this too is all over. From last year, we lost Rayvonte Rice, Nnanna Egwu, Aaron Cosby (midseason), Austin Colbert and Ahmad Starks. We in theory would have returned Abrams (who missed last year with a torn ACL), Tate, Nunn, Hill, Morgan, Paul and Black while adding 5-star combo guard Jalen Coleman-Lands, freshmen Aaron Jordan and D.J. Williams, redshirt freshman Michael Finke and transfers Mike Thorne and Khalid Lewis. Let's see how that worked out:
-Tracy Abrams (torn achilles, out for this season, may be done for good)
-Kendrick Nunn (tore a thumb ligament on his shooting hand in mid-October, out 8 weeks)
-Darius Paul (arrested in Europe while on exhibition tour; kicked off the team)
-Leron Black (recovering from knee surgery)
-Jalen Coleman-Lands (still in a walking boot after a stress fracture)
-Tate (has such issues jump shooting that teams do not guard him unless he's in the lane)
-We have three open scholarships in 2016 still
So yeah. Men's basketball had a nice run from 1974 to 2013, but now it too is over.