Category Archives: illinois fighting illini

2016 College Football: All-Name Team

america's white boy funny all-name team college football ncaa 2016 lion kingWhat makes a great college football name?

A good litmus test is if it works as a potential pro wrestling name, it works in college football.

We went through all the teams in the top two divisions in the NCAA. We read every name and picked out the ones that were funny and names we just wish we had.

My name is Bobby Roberts, so of all the people who can write a post poking fun at names, it’s me. I’m always asked if my real name is Robert Roberts (it’s not) or if my name is fake.

Here is the 2016-17 college football All-Name team.

Continue reading

2013 March Madness: #7 Illinois vs #10 Colorado

brandon-paul-illinois-2013#7 Illinois (22-12) vs. #10 Colorado (21-11) will have the lowest combined assist total of all the first round games. Neither team moves the ball well and you will see many sloppy possessions.

This game should be re-named ‘The Inconsistency Showdown.” You never know which version of the teams will show up.

Will an Illinois win truly validate the strength of the Big Ten Conference?

Who do you think will win? We help you fill out your bracket. Continue reading

2013 March Madness: Bubble Teams

John+Caliperi+Kentucky+Bubble+Team+2013+NCAA+TournamentThe NCAA Tournament is right around the corner and teams pushing to win their conference tournaments and assure a spot in this season’s ‘Big Dance’.

There were a few smaller conference upsets that limited the number of at-large bids the larger conferences usually dominate.

Many of the teams on the “bubble” are perennial favorites, like Kentucky who want to defend their title. A few newcomers are also on the bubble, like La Salle who haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1992.

Which current bubble teams are safe to receive at-large bids and which teams still have work to do? Continue reading

2012 Big Ten Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini

Joe Pasquali, our resident college football analyst, is back with some more of Big Ten team previews. Can Illinois rebound from the “Ron Zook era”?

Last season was a Jekyll and Hyde season for Illinois to say the least. After starting 6-0 and getting ranked as high as 15, the Illini lost their last 6 before beating a dismal UCLA team in the Fight Hunger Bowl. Yes, that was an actual bowl game… Anyways, after the firing of master recruiter/terrible strategist Ron Zook, and hiring Toledo’s Tim Beckman, Illinois is ready to rebound. Their conference schedule is brutal, with trips to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State, but my guess is Illinois will end up bowling.  This team has too much talent on defense and some very winnable home games.

Offense (C)

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had a roller coaster year along with the rest of the team, starting out hot and garnering national attention to then only fade down the stretch.  In his last five conference games Scheelhaase threw for one touchdown. For Illinois to improve in 2012 they will need more consistent play from their mobile quarterback. Up front the line should be more solid this year as Illinois returns two good starters in center Graham Pocic and guard Hugh Thornton. Behind them Donovonn Young will get most of the carries after splitting time line 2011. Outside Illinois will be without playmaker AJ Jenkins. Juniors Spencer Harris and Darius Millines are expected to try and pick up the slack. Also, you have to watch out for any offense with a player named Fritz Rock. That’s awesome.

Defense (A)

The bright spot for Illinois in 2011 was on defense, where the unit put up crazy numbers and kept the Illini in most games. They were 15th nationally in points against (19.6 per game) but even more impressive was the pressure they put on opposing quarterbacks. Illinois racked up 3.15 sacks per game last year, more than any other Big Ten team. Though 16 of those came from All American and now Houston Texan Whitney Mercilus, Illinois returns enough defensive playmakers to be a force once again. Even though Illinois is switching to a 3-4 defense, Akeem Spence will be a force to reckon with up front. Linebackers Michael Buchanan and Jonathan Brown both are returning starters and had impressive seasons. The secondary is physical, fast, experienced, and only lost one starter from a year ago.

Special Teams (C)

A host of underclassmen are after the special teams’ positions at Illinois this year. Front runners for the kicking position are Taylor Zalewski and Brennen VanMieghem. Both have pretty cool names and both redshirt freshmen. Justin DuVernois returns at punter after a less than stellar freshman year only averaging 38.3 yards a punt.

Coaching (??)

This will be the first year for all three major coaches at Illinois.  Head Coach Tim Beckman comes from Toledo where he enjoyed a MAC conference title in 2011. Billy Gonzales will be the offensive coordinator after working as an offensive assistant at LSU and Tim Banks takes over the defense after being co-defensive coordinator at Cincinnati. All have decent resumes, but only time will tell for this lot.

2012 Win/Loss Prediction7-5 (4th in Leaders)

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What’s Next For Juice Williams?

I guess the blame for Ron Zook’s disappointing last two seasons have finally fell upon Juice Williams. He said today that he is going to bench Williams in favor of junior quarterback, Eddie McGee. Williams was the taste of the town two seasons ago when he upset Ohio State in the Shoe and lead his team to a Rose Bowl bid. It has been a rocky road since then and now the senior has found himself on the bench. What is next for Juice Williams? Could the NFL be in his future?

In 2005, Isiah “Juice” Williams, was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation. He played for Chicago Vocational Career Academy and chose to stay close to home and play in-state at Illinois. A lot of the successful college quarterbacks at that time were Vince Young, Troy Smith, and you could even add Marcus Vick in that discussion. They all fell in the same category as a duel-threat quarterback that can use his legs to move to the ball. Since that time, Vince Young has fluttered in the NFL, Troy Smith has barely sniffed the ball for the Baltimore Ravens, and Vick (either one) has fell into legal problems off-the-field. It could be the paradigm-shift that has caused teams and colleges to stray away from those types of colleges, but Williams can’t blame anything except for his own ability.

A strong running game with Rashard Mendenhall helped Williams beat Ohio State and head into the Rose Bowl in 2007. When Mendenhall left for the NFL, Illinois became one-dimensional and had to rely on the passing game and Williams’ feet to move the ball. A series of injuries and suspensions have lead to a disappointing season in 2008 and at the beginning of this year. Arrelious Benn hasn’t been 100% this season and when you take away a target like that, the quarterback will suffer. Eddie McGee has shown that he is a better passer than Williams and also has some speed that could be useful, but Williams’ intangibles are still better. He has clearly been rattled by his lack of production and maybe sitting him down is the best for the team. I wouldn’t back a plan that would permanently bench Williams, he’s a weapon, try to get him into the game in a Wildcat type of play-set and you could benefit.

If you are looking toward the 2010 season, getting McGee into the game for some regular reps is a smart decision, but Zook can’t bet that he’ll be around for it. Zook has taken a lot of heat for putting together great recruiting classes, but not getting much out of them. If he does get fired after this season and I ran a major program, I would hire him as an assistant coach and only let him recruit. He has shown that he can recruit with the best of them, but his coaching ability is suspect to this point.

Do I think that Juice Williams can play in the NFL? Not right now, but if the Wildcat system catches on even more, he could be a nice undrafted free-agent signing. I could see him going up to Canada and trying his ability out up there. If he is a success, maybe he can catch on with a team has a 3rd string or practice squad player. This benching is bad news for Williams and his professional career, but he must remember this moment and keep working. You never know what can happen, Matt Cassel never even started a game in college and he’s a starter in the NFL.
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Big Ten Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini

Ron Zook has had a few great recruiting years at Illinois, but when is the talent going to produce another Rose Bowl appearance? Illinois could go either way this year, if they stay healthy. Joe Pasquali is here to preview Illinois’ chances in the 2009 Big Ten season.

By the way, I wish I was named Juice.

Finishing T-#6 in the Big Ten
Illinois Fighting Illini (Predicted Finish 7-5)

Summary– 2008 was a disappointing season for the Fighting Illini and all signs point to them having a bit of a rebound in 2009. Juice Williams returns to lead a team that lost three straight games to end the season and kept Illinois home for bowl season. We’ll find out early on how good this team is, with Missouri, Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State all within their first five games. Not the way I’d want to start a season….

Offense (B+)– Juice Williams is one of the most exciting players to watch in the conference, showcasing his ability to run and pass every Saturday. Lining up with him will be another player equally as exciting in Arrelious Benn, a WR that every team has to plan for. Look for these two to hook up early and often in 2009.

Defense (C+)– Only two players of the front seven return to a defense that gave up way too many rushing yards last season (152 yards per game, 9th in Big Ten). The entire secondary returns, which is good news surprisingly for the rush defense as well. Ron Zook likes his safeties and nickelbacks to creep up to stop the run, experience back there should help the new defensive line and linebackers get acclimated.

Special Teams (B)– If Arrelious Benn returns kicks for Illinois, I’ll change my ranking to an A. He is that explosive. Matt Eller and Anthony Santella return to do the kicking and punting respectively. Both are fairly average.

Coaching (B+)– Ron Zook is an A+ recruiter but a pretty average big game coach. This will have to change for Illinois to get over the hump in the Big Ten. Don’t see it happening in 2009.
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