CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois Football’s offense has a lot to prove heading into the 2017 season.
The Illini averaged fewer than 20 points per game in 2016, putting them at No. 122 nationally.
With quarterback Chayce Crouch at the helm, and a deep running back corps, the rushing game could be the strength of the offense. That, of course, depends on the effectiveness of the offensive line, which returns just three starters from last year’s squad.
There was a lot of position rotation during training camp but players say things have started to solidify, and with Ball State just a week away, the offensive line said they’re eager to get some yards on the ground.
“It’s extremely important,” junior lineman Nick Allegretti said. “As O-linemen, throwing the ball is fun but you come here to run the ball. You want to have a great running game. You want to have running backs run for a thousand yards, a thousand yards plus. So, having a great running game, the term ‘O-line Pride’ it really gives it that pride.”
The Illini want a balanced attack so this year’s receiving corps is looking to improve passing stats as well. T
They will get some help from young wide outs including true freshman Carmoni Green.
WCIA3’s Craig Choate went one-on-one with Green to hear what he and the Illini hope to accomplish through the air.
“How much of a headstart do you feel like that gaves you getting here in January as opposed to June or July?”
“It gave me a big headstart. I feel a lot stronger, a lot faster than I was when I first came in. And it gave me an opportunity to go through spring and things like that and just get a headstart.”
“For fans that might not know much about you, what kind of football player are you? What do you bring to this team?”
“I bring speed, a lot of speed. I bring big play ability and a good team player.”
“What brought you here? How did you end up at Illinois?”
“Coach Lovie just recruited me the right way and the rest of the coaching staff recruited me the right way and they just told me I have a chance to come play good football and be coached by some of the best coaches”
“What’s this offense going to be like this year?”
“This offense is going to be very explosive. We got great running backs, we’ve got other great receivers on the team. All of us are just going to push each other to make sure that we play our best.”
“You got Malik Turner out there on the outside. Mikey Dudek coming in. You also got a couple freshman with Kendall and Ricky. What can this wide receiver corp, in general, accomplish this year?”
“We could accomplish just being the best group in the BigTen as like yards after catch and things like that. Showing effort and blocking when running backs break big runs and we go pick up the safeties and things like that. Just being the group that we could count on, that’s what we plan to be.”
The Illini open their season Saturday at 11 a.m. against Ball State.