CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — A third of the way through its season, Illinois football is still looking to solidify its offense. Coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. wants a balanced attack, featuring equal parts run and pass, but three games in and the rushing attack has largely lacked from what Lunney thought it could bring. Only 36 percent of the Illini total offense has come on the ground, that’s down from 44 percent last season. Establishing that part of the game is critical for success, according to Lunney.
“We have to establish our identity just a little bit clearer and it’s been in bits and pieces, there have been flashes,” Lunney said. “But we have yet to put a game together that looks like and feels like the game that we want it to look like in terms of playing with a good amount of pace but also injecting shifts, movements and motions and being balanced in our run and pass concepts.”
A big reason Illinois hasn’t been able to run the ball as much, is the fact they’ve played from behind in every game. After scoring an opening drive touchdown against Toledo in the first game of the season, the Illini trailed for most of the way before a late game winning field goal. Against Kansas and Penn State, Illinois never led, leading to more passing plays.
“We talk about running to win and throwing for dough,” Illinois junior tight end Tip Reiman said. “You run the ball well and establish the run game, that’s critical. And then when you throw, you throw for dough, you throw for the big money.”
Illinois will look to get back to a more balanced attack hosting Florida Atlantic Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.