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Eleven Adjustments October 15, 2012

I love lists. My wife probably hates that I love lists. If she has to hear one more “four things we can do to improve our children’s dishwashing output” (point #3: Soaking Does Nothing – SCRUB IT!), she might just eliminate my allowance.

While I’ve gotten better about list-making at home, I’ll probably never stop my list-making ways here. The 19 Point Plan For Fixing Illini Football. Ranking the 90 most important Illini football players (and, coming soon, ranking the 13 most important Illini basketball players). I love lists.

So here comes another one. Eleven Adjustments The Coaches Can Implement To Begin The Turnaround Immediately. Starting tomorrow and running through the Friday before the Indiana game, I’ll have a post with an idea as to how we can begin to turn this thing around. Today, I have to explain why.

When I say “turn things around”, 71% of you tuned me out. You see the season as already lost. Irreversible. 2-10 here we come.

Maybe. But as I said in my postgame post, I’m just not there. I still see the chance for a resurgence. Not a bowl resurgence, but a “competitive in our three home games with some hope for next year” resurgence. Is this just Hopeful Robert trying against anything to remain optimistic? Maybe. It’s always possible. I know me well.

But in this instance, I think it’s this: I really did expect a struggle in the first half of the season. Here’s what I told that Western Michigan blogger in the Q&A before our first game:

This is a brand new offense and brand new blocking scheme. And it’s being implemented with an offensive roster that averaged 11 points per game over our final seven games last season. Look at it that way, and we’ll be lucky to gain 100 yards on Saturday.

Remember when Michigan switched to the spread in 2008? Their first game against Utah? 36 rushing yards. It took them a long time to figure out the new blocking schemes and the new offensive tempo.

You might see something similar from us on Saturday. Brand new scheme, brand new tempo, and this is our first product roll-out. I’m frightened it’s going to be Yakkity Sax for the first six games.

(If you’re unfamiliar with what I mean by Yakkity Sax, just watch this.)

And yes, we’ve been Yakkity Sax the first six games. Seven, actually. 111th in total offense. 114th in scoring offense. Pretty much identical offensive numbers to our final seven games last year. Actually, if we used the numbers from last year (11 PPG over our final seven games), we’d be dead last in scoring offense. But buoyed by those 44 points against Charleston Southern, we’re averaging 18 points per game this season. Thanks, worst team in the FCS!

I say all of that to try to explain my position.  My mood really isn’t “let’s focus on the positives”.  There are none.  I’m simply saying this: Ron Zook was fired because recruiting fell off, our Big Ten record was 8-16 over his final three seasons, and he lost six games in a row.  Beckman wasn’t left with a full scale rebuild like 2005 and 1997, but things weren’t peachy.  Our offensive disaster started last October (actually, it started several years back when Zook missed on most of his wide receiver and offensive line recruiting targets).

Mike Thomas recognized this and made a change.  That change, thus far, has been a clownshow.  We really are one of the worst teams in FBS football.  We had -2 yards in the second half on Saturday.  Our once vaunted defense – the D that prided itself on forcing field goals in the redzone and keeping the game close – has given up 21 redzone scores, EIGHTEEN of which are touchdowns.  Nothing has gone right.

And the big question that leaves is this: has nothing gone right because Zook really did leave the cupboard bare when we all thought it was half-full?  Or has nothing gone right because this coaching staff is wildly incompetent?  If the comments to the last post are my guide, many of you have already made your decision – these. coaches. suck.  I’m simply saying that I haven’t yet.  It’s certainly not pretty, but I need to see how we respond in these next five games.  I feared yakkity sax on offense in the first half of the season and that’s what we saw.  Can these coaches regroup?  Maybe – I’m interested to find out.  I expected a return to dominance on defense in the first half of the season and got just the opposite.  It’s a disaster.  Can the coaches find the glue and put it back together?  Looks doubtful, but let’s see how they do against our final three home opponents (none of which have won a single Big Ten game yet either, by the way).

And I have a few suggestions for them as to how we might get there. So I’m not going to Check The Tape tonight.  I might not, ever.  Not sure if I can watch that again.  (What would I point out?  “See how we failed on this play, just like the previous 33 plays?”)

Tonight I’m going to finalize and refine the Eleven Adjustments The Coaches Can Implement To Begin The Turnaround Immediately.  I’m going to pour over our statistics and game film and find adjustments we can make.  According to the comments on the last post, I’m the last human being on earth holding out hope for an Illini resurgence in these last five games.  Well, if I’m the only guy in the room, I might as well make good use of my time.

Eugene October 15th, 2012

Looking forward to it Robert. May I suggest some of the play calling and scheme the offense was executing before Nathan’s injury saturday. They actually gained positive yards on first down and it wasn’t the read option. Just a thought.

I’m with you on wait to see how the coaches execute down the stretch. The cupboard was more bare than most thought. Bottom of the conference recruiting yields bottom of the conference execution.

RCIO October 15th, 2012

“According to the comments on the last post, I’m the last human being on earth holding out hope for an Illini resurgence in these last five games.”

Come on, it is not so bad. At least you are a Cardinals fan. Try being a Cubs fan and a UI grad.

All kidding aside, thanks for doing what you do.

illiniranger October 15th, 2012

well written post, i basically agree. i would call us a full on dumpster fire, but that would be an insult to dumpster fires.
we can find too many examples of coaches that started out TERRIBLE and turned it around for us to dump the guy after one year. i’m not saying we have that guy, but i’m saying we haven’t had the time to tell.
Let me also throw a bone to those that thing Becks is absolutely not the guy – he has done a whole lot of things to make me question his judgement. leave Toledo and not bring a single coach? Hire “co-offensive coordinators” when neither has ever been an offensive coordinator? Send coaches to PSU garbed in Illini gear when you are doing something that will be perceived as “shady?” Run an spread offense with “six tempos” that you can probably never recruit to in your state or region? Dip on the sidelines? (quick aside, it drives me BANANAS when people refer to Beckman’s “chewing” on the sidelines. You “chew” Levi Garrett. You “dip” Copenhagen. Obviously most of you are not from deepest Southern Illinois.)
All of those point to a guy who is more sizzle than steak. BUT, I think we need to see how we play over the last 5 games AND next season. if we slap up a non-competitive 2-10 and a non competitive 2-10/3-9/4-8 it’s enough data to move on.

AHSIllini32 October 15th, 2012

Robert, I’m in that room too!! Great music you have playing in here.

BexleyIllini October 15th, 2012


You may want to add the “that school up north” crap to the questionable judgement list. Not the biggest deal, but it is basically a Brady Hoke rip-off. It’s fine to have a little fun with Northwestern, but be original.

Even if Beck ends up winning, the PR gaffes are not working for me at all.

Illinigrad October 15th, 2012

Robert, unless I missed it, why did you pick the number “11″?

Why not 10 or 12? Or did you only find 11 strategies or adjustments to improve the situation? Just curious.

ILLINI08 October 16th, 2012

@illinigrad there are 11 days between the 15th and the next game.

I also hold out hope that we can rebound in these few games.

gyc October 16th, 2012

ranger: Beckman brought Golesh, Clinkscale, and Ward from Toledo. He also wanted to bring Matt Campbell, but Toledo offered him the head coaching job.

GrogsBBQPepperoni October 16th, 2012

Only because I’m still having trouble comprehending how bad we look, part of it appears to be who we’ve played. Outside of Chas So, our losses are to 5-1 ASU, 5-1 La Tech (who almost upset Texas A&M), an underrated 4-2 Penn State team who still has lots of talent, 5-2 Wisconsin (who will win our half of the league), and 4-2 Michigan who has way better talent right now.
Before everyone jumps down my throat, I do understand the difference between losing and not being competitive (which we were -for a good while- at Wisconsin) in a loss. But we have played the “heaviest” part of our schedule save OSU. I agree, we should have put up a better fight in those losses but 3 of the next 4 games are IU, Minn and PU. And PU just gave up over 600 yards. Purdue had very similar scores to us vs Michigan and Wisconsin. I can see us beating them. I think Minn beats us and IU is a tossup. So maybe 4-8 with some luck.

illiniranger October 16th, 2012

gyc, didn’t know that. thanks for clarifying.

uiucfan1 October 17th, 2012

you aren’t the only guy in the room – i’m always optimistic…but like you, I’m in – for better or for worse – i’ll still be there.

I sat through the 2 seasons when our only win was against ISU (those were my first seasons as a season ticket holder)

I love this program, even though it sucks. It hurts me to see 10,000 left in the stadium when the clock rolls over to the 4th quarter – but many times, i stay till the bitter end – some people beat traffic by leaving early – i beat it by staying to the end. :(