CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois defense is expecting to be tested in the season opener. Toledo comes to Champaign with nine returning starters on offense, led by All-MAC dual threat quarterback Dequan Finn. The junior threw for more than 2,200 yards last season and ran for more than 600, a big reason why the Rockets won a conference championship, finishing with a 9-5 record.

“I think just on the whole defensive front, just containing him, staying to our techniques, and hopefully that’ll get the job done,” Illinois junior outside linebacker Seth Coleman said about Finn.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Illinois sophomore defensive back Xavier Scott said about the Rockets offense. “It’s going to be fun, you know. You know they’re going to play hard, you know, play fast. It’s a big game for both of us, our first game so we’re going to treat them as a Big Ten opponent and play hard. I just know that they’re going to come at us a little bit, but you know we’re ready for every opportunity I can get.”

Illinois finished last season with the No. 1 ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing just 12.8 points per game. It’s the first time that’s ever happened in program history but the Illini has to replace several starters from that squad, including three defensive backs drafted to the NFL: Devon Witherspoon (5th overall to the Seahawks), Quan Martin (2nd round, 47th overall to the Commanders) and Sydney Brown (3rd round, 66th overall to the Eagles). Kendall Smith was picked up by Washington as an undrafted free agent, one of four total players from last year’s team signed by an NFL team as an UDFA.