CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois football team scrimmaged for the first time in training camp on Monday morning at Memorial Stadium, one of only two scrimmages the team is allowed per NCAA rule before the season opener on Aug. 28.
Illini head coach Bret Bielema used the opportunity to evaluate his team, now seven practices in. Full tackling, other than the quarterbacks, was allowed for the first time. Referees were also on hand, with the hour-plus scrimmage was split into two halves.
“We put a huge importance on today, we went 1 with 1’s, 2’s with 2’s, and we wanted to bring the competition to 3’s at the end,” Bielema said. “I really thought certain guys stepped forward, and there’s some guys that probably stayed back.”
As the practices continue to add up, players are starting to separate themselves into a depth chart, as they show the new coaching staff what they’re capable of. The countdown to kickoff is on, with Nebraska arriving in Champaign in just 19 days.
“Everybody’s playing as one, everybody is trusting everybody to do their job, playing off each other,” Illinois senior outside linebacker Isaiah Gay said. “We made a big jump from the spring, and we going to keep making those jumps.”