KFHB 28 – Mailbag, Part I January 4, 2012
OK, so it’s really not the KFHB any more – lots of these mailbag questions are asking about next year. But I said something about 30 KFHB posts, so 30 KFHB posts I shall write.
Actually, I think that would only be 28 because I skipped a few numbers along the way. Why am I telling you this? Why can’t I just jump right in to the mailbag? And while I’m asking questions, why can’t I root for Michigan in a BCS bowl? I’ve found that I cheer for 9 of the 12 B1G teams in bowls, but I cannot cheer for Michigan, Iowa, or Northwestern. Tried again this year, couldn’t make myself do it.
ANYWAY, to the mailbag. This first question is so awesome I might just spend the entire first mailbag post on that question and get to the rest of the questions tomorrow and Thursday.
Who wins a matchup between the ’89 offense/’94 defense vs. ’01 offense/’11 defense? I’d watch that game.
Man do I love this question. I’ve spent a half hour thinking about it.
First off, that 89/94 team is a monster. Jeff George throwing to Williams, Bellamy, and Wax (with Howard Griffith in the backfield) while Howard, Holocek, Hardy, and Rice terrorize their opponents? At first glance, I’m not sure how that team gets beat.
But 01/11 is no slouch. Kittner to Lloyd, Lewis, Moorehead, and Young (with Harvey and Davis and Harris in the backfield) while Big Whit and company play defense? Both of these teams could’ve contended for national titles.
So we have to get specific with the matchups. How would the 1994 defense match up with the 2001 offense? Well, for starters, they wouldn’t be able to run the ball against Howard and Hardy and Holocek, so it would be up to Kittner moving the offense through the air. Which puts pressure on two things: Can Simeon get around Tony Pashos and get to Kittner, and can the secondary of Ty Washington and Antoine Patton and Scott Turner and (other cornerback on the 1994 team escapes me) stop the 4-headed monster at receiver?
In this matchup, I’m giving the edge to the 1994 defense. The Grenade, Turner, Patton, and ROBERT CRUMPTON (knew I’d remember) were an underrated secondary in Illini history. And guys like Mikki Johnson (defensive tackle) were underrated, too. I think that defense would give Lloyd and Young fits, and if they couldn’t run the ball with Harvey and they couldn’t hit the swing pass to Davis because Hardy was all over it, the offense would have a tough time getting the passing game on track against that secondary. Advantage 1994.
The flipside is an interesting matchup as well. Watching film of Jeff George’s arm 20 years later is still just as ridiculous. I don’t care what foot he’s standing on or if he’s turned 90 degrees from his target – the throw came out with some zip. Give him time, and George could pick apart any defense (including top-5 USC in the final few minutes). And that line could give him time. Tim Simpson, Brad Hopkins, Curtis Lovelace – they were difficult to stop when George was on.
But I feel like Vic would have been able to dial something up to stop them. Get Whit and BadNewsBrown making a mess of the offensive backfield, and get Hawthorne/Wilson/Green to pester Williams and Bellamy, and I think this defense could slow them down. You had to be able to get to George to stop the 1989 offense, and this defense got to the quarterback possibly better than any Illini team since 1994. So they would have made it very difficult on George. All in all, I think this one is much closer than the other one. 2011 D could make some stops and maybe shut down Griffith, but 1989 O would still be able to move the ball.
Given that, 89/94 wins. Mostly because 89 could move the ball on 11 a little bit better than 01 could move the ball on 94. So I’ll go with this for the final score:
Which player did you enjoy being around the most at the bowl and why?
Jack Cornell is so much the obvious answer here that I’m going to have to give you two answers. In St. Louis, a local magazine used to have a category in their “Best Of” issue entitled “Best Local Newscaster Not Named Karen Foss” because everyone would always vote for Karen Foss. Well, I’ll have to have a “player you most enjoyed being around not named Jack Cornell” category.
Winner in that category: Donovonn Young. I didn’t get to interview him. In fact, I didn’t even think to ask. Coach Zook wouldn’t let you interview freshmen players, but it’s possible the Vic Koenning would have let me talk to Young had I asked.
But I’ll answer Young because he’s hilarious. From my view, Young is outgoing, engaging, smiling, and always up to something. His performance at St. Anthony’s was impressively awesome, and you can always find him laughing with his teammates. After the game, on the field, I saw him joking around with Jeff Brohm’s son and talking to anyone and everyone.
I think he can be a great ambassador to the program the next three years. And a pretty great running back.
Who is the kicker next year? Immekus?
I got to meet the Immekus family in San Francisco, and they were great, so I’m automatically 19% more partial to Nick winning the job. (As an aside, after I talked to them, I realized that I used to make “Fat Kicker II” jokes about Immekus – he was an offensive lineman in high school, and I thought he might be Chris Richardson 2.0. But he’s lost some weight since then, and while he’s not as tiny as a Derek Dimke, he’s certainly not as big as Richardson. So please, Immekus family, when you see “fat kicker” jokes, it’s a term of endearment.)
The kicker race is probably a 5 horse race. Immekus (will be a redshirt sophomore), Taylor Zalewski (will be a redshirt freshman), Baron Van Miegham (redshirt freshman, and his name is Brennan and not Baron, but Baron sounds cooler), Patrick Dunn (who will be a… junior, I think?), and true freshman scholarship kicker Ryan Frain.
Who do I think wins the job? Well, in Rantoul, they could only bring 105 players (only 20 walkons allowed), so they only brought 2 punters and 2 placekickers to camp. And the placekickers they brought were Dimke and Taylor Zalewski. So I’d say that has to give Zalewski a leg up here (horrible pun actually intended).
But this is a brand new coaching staff, so who knows what happens. I’ll guess one kicker is used for kickoffs and another used for placekicking. Kickoffs: Immekus. Placekicker: Zalewski.
(More mailbaggery tomorrow)