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B1G 2021 // Does this Fighting Illini football roster have the potential for greatness with good coaching?

Raising more questions than answers on Off Talkle Empire

NCAA Football: Illinois at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to our companion podcast series on Off Talkle Empire where we’ll be beaming our thoughts on the Big Ten team of the week directly into your brain all summer!

Much to the chagrin of the two hosts, we kick off B1G 2021 by talking about...both our schools back to back.

So this week it’s my turn to search for answers, temper expectations and define success in 2021 because wins may be hard to come by.

  • Bret Bielema is earning some quiet praise from Illini fans for simply putting together the bones of what looks more like a Big Ten college football program than any we’ve seen in decades. Is it really as simple as making sure your coach has at least as much an idea of what to do on the job as the diehard fans?
  • Who’s going to throw the ball? More worryingly, who’s going to catch the ball? Why a revamped offense might be more out of necessity than preference.
  • The pieces to a decent rushing attack are there, but can Illinois use them?
  • Individual defensive players like Jake Hansen and Sydney Brown have shown flashes, but the defense as a whole has been atrocious. Can a new scheme and new position coaches revolutionize this squad overnight?
  • Basketball. So. What happened that wasn’t Loyola?
  • Can Illinois basketball sustain its newfound position as a regular in the AP poll even with many important pieces leaving?

All this and more inside, including the fate of guard-who-started-every-game-as-a-freshman-but-apparently-wasn’t-satisfied-with-that-level-of-deference-and-coddling Adam Miller!