Illini prepare for upcoming season

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Illini prepare for upcoming season

The bench watches during the spring football game at Memorial Stadium. Players look ahead to the fall season.

The bench watches during the spring football game at Memorial Stadium. Players look ahead to the fall season.

Mark Capapas

The bench watches during the spring football game at Memorial Stadium. Players look ahead to the fall season.

Mark Capapas

Mark Capapas

The bench watches during the spring football game at Memorial Stadium. Players look ahead to the fall season.

By Tati Perry, Staff Writer

At this point hearing that the Illini football squad looks good and will finally have a good season is just a loaded cliche that leaves fans more disappointed because they dared hope.

For the entirety of coach Lovie Smith’s time with the team, all I have heard is, “Just wait, this team will be something someday, just wait until all the pieces finally come together.”

Last year, the fans did not have the opportunity to see what the team was going to be capable of, as there were not enough players on the roster to have a spring game.

Fans weren’t able to see any sort of progress made during the offseason until the first game of 2018.

Sitting in the stands for the first time in a long time, I think it’s safe to hope again. However, this go-around disappointment is less likely to be the result.

Are the Illini perfect?

Absolutely not.

Have they improved?

A resounding yes.

This is not the team that lacked communication at the beginning of the 2018 season. This is far removed from the discouraged bunch who seemed to give up in the fourth quarter.

There were more complete passes, more cohesive run patterns and more communication.

Despite losing some big leaders on the offensive line, it seems as though the team has recovered nicely.

The line is still able to leave large holes for the running backs to run through and give the quarterback time to search for a receiver.

Unfortunately, this is also a note on the defense, who was seldom able to stop the run but could merely slow it down.

Sure there were a few flashy Lovie-style plays, but aside from the flash, there is still much work to be done.

The defense is still quick to react and has dropped fewer opportunities. There has been an improvement but not yet to the extent of the offense.

All this being said, sitting in the stand, you could feel the excitement. The excitement of the team getting ready to show what they could do and the excitement of the fans ready to witness the improvement.

The kids running through the stands brimming with excitement to see the team and the fans on the edge of their seat year after disappointing year has got to warm the hearts of the players.

Players, please don’t let the fans down. All the pieces finally look like they are coming together. The #littyville formula is nearly complete. Buckle up; this is the season the fans have expected from you.

Fans, like the little kitten poster says, hang in there. This is finally what you have been waiting for. Lovie Smith has finally collected all the infinity stones, and he’s ready to level the playing field. Appreciate all parts of the game day atmosphere, including the band. The unsung heroes of Illini athletics were simply amazing. They truly don’t get the recognition that they deserve. Until they do, I will continue to shout them out.

Settle in Illini, this will be a noteworthy season.

 

@tati_perry14

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