CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football’s focus shifted from training camp mode to all game prep on Wednesday. The countdown to kickoff is on for the Illini, who welcome in Nebraska next Saturday at 12 p.m. in a nationally televised Week 0 game on FOX. Changing up the practice plan is a welcome sight for the players, who have been spent the past two weeks going against one another.
“It felt real, you know we’re actually here, actually prepping,” Illinois redshirt freshman defensive lineman Keith Randolph Jr. said about Wednesday’s practice. “For the past two weeks and even in the spring, we’re just playing ball and now we’re actually planning for a team.”
Drill and skill work, installing plays and head coach Bret Bielema’s system has been the main focus until now. In two scrimmages, the starters have matched up against other starters on the other side of the ball. Now scout teams are forming, along with the depth chart, as the reps for the second and third teams will go down.
“It just kind of had that feel that traditional camp is over, we’ve put it behind us and we’re starting to move on to our first opponent and I think that kind of gives a little bit of juice,” Illinois offensive coordinator Tony Petersen said. “All of a sudden it’s different, we’re not just going out there pounding on each other.”