The season didn't begin the way Ron Zook envisioned it to go, and he was very animated at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, as he lashed out at some of the veterans. Now, mind you, Zook is in his third season as Illini head coach, and would like to see some positive results with the stash of recruits that he has assembled. Going back to the Missouri game for a moment, redshirt freshman Eddie McGee did a great job filling in for the injured Juice Williams. McGee completed 17 of 31 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown strike to Kyle Hudson, but it was the two costly fumbles that doomed McGee and the Illini. One of those fumbles was ran back 100 yards for a touchdown, and that ended up being a momentum killer. Zook has reason to be fired up, because he is expecting results this year, as are some of the guys that have been around for 3 to 4 years. Players like J Leman, Brit Miller and Kevin Mitchell are hungry for success, and hopefully that trend begins this Saturday when the Illini host the #23 rd ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision, the Western Illinois Leathernecks. Now, if you have never heard of the FCS, that is what Division 1-AA is now called. Western Illinois won their first game of the season, 29-26 in overtime, over South Dakota State. The quarterback for Western Illinois, Matt Barr, is a freshman that can be labeled as a dual threat. He came off the bench in the win over South Dakota State to rush for 114 yards and pass for 128 more yards. Barr, who expects to start this weekend against Illinois, will be the first freshman quarterback to start for Western Illinois since 1990.
Fans that were able to see the Big Ten Network last weekend were treated to a day of football, including one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Appalachian State, the two-time FCS national champion, stunned Michigan in the "big house" in front of a sellout crowd expecting a blowout. If the Illini can learn one thing from this game, it is not to take any team, even Western Illinois, lightly. What happened to Michigan can, and probably will happen again in the not too distant future. While we're on the subject of the Big Ten Network, Dish Network signed on to carry the network, thereby giving more fans in Big Ten country access to the network and all of its programming. So, now that you have had a chance to see some of what the Big Ten Network has to offer (DirecTV subscribers, I'm talking to you about this), what do you think about what you've seen? I would be interested in hearing what comments you have about this.
Bruce Weber's Fighting Illini basketball team finished their Canada trip 3-1, and according to Weber, looked pretty good. Some players did not see action due to the redshirting rules, but those who did will use the experience for the upcoming season. Weber also got some discouraging news earlier in the week when it was announced that assistant coach Tracy Webster is leaving the program to take a similar position on Billy Gillispie's staff at Kentucky. Webster, who was a good recruiter and had some good ties to the Chicago area, will be missed, and here is hoping that whoever Weber brings in to the program can recruit the Chicago area as well as Webster did. These days, it is imperative with all of the national coaches getting their feet into the same areas. So, let me know what you think! Football, basketball, whatever is on your mind, I would love to hear your comments.