Sunday, August 19, 2007
OK, I'll finally put my mouth where my foot has been most of the past 5 years. Oh, that Sugar Bowl against LSU in 2002 seems so long ago. Where has the time gone? I know we've only won something 2 of our last 32 BIG 10 games, but who's really counting anyway? Some teams rel-load each year, others rebuild, but my squad has taken the deliberate and tortuous route over the past five years to do it right, or not! Hey, we're upgrading our football stadium (Memorial Stadium) as part of the Illinois Rebirth.
Fine, you want me to be serious. Come on, it's been 5 long years of one joke after another. Any other man would surely have folded under such immense pressure. But not yours truly, I'm hear to tell you that I've weathered the storm better than the Persians and Xerxes versus Lianitis and the Spartans (I just saw 300 - good flick). Or was that dermatities? Aristotle? Socrates? Whomever ....
CNN just came out with its BIG-10 Preview for 2k7 (click link above). Of course, Michigan is on there going 11-1; same for Wisconsin. Although, I argue that you can't spell LLOYD CARR without two L's. You do the math. I know Ill be right come late November. I digress - because you really came hear for the ILLINI prediction this year. Yes, ILLINOIS football is back - not just physically, but ready to assume its rightful spot atop the BIG-10 (yes, I remember Jack Trudeau, Tony Eason, and Jeff George). CNN has us going 7-5 this year and 4-4 in conference. That might be a bit optimistic, but nonetheless we're going bowlin' and I'm sticking with my 6-6 prediction. Don't ask me to explain where all of the wins are going to come from just yet; I can't. But that's not important.
Lost in all of the losing lately has been some great individual and team play. Leman has been a stud for us the past four seasons at middle linebacker - one of the best in the land averaging 13 tackles / game. He's back this year and will be a difference maker and leader on defense. Our runnning game led the conference last season with Williams and Mendenhall (left) taking top honors in that department. Expect more of the same this year. Rashard M. averaged 8.2 yards / carry last season on 78 attempts - not bad. Juice Williams put together almost 600 yards on the ground as QB; and he didn't play or start in all games. And watch out for Regis (Arrelious Benn - top left photo) at wideout this fall. At 6'2" and 215 pounds, he's going to make an instant impact as a freshmen at WR. Sportsenter has been warned. It's the 3rd season for the Zooker and he's a coach on the rise. How else do you explain a TOP-15 recruiting class this past year after only amassing two (2) victories? Talk about salesmanship. Thank God for text messaging. It's shaping up to be a fun year in Champaign, finally! Yes, we're thinking bowl season.