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.