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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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Page 78 of 91

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 79 THREE THINGS 1 New offensive co- ordinator Rod Smith in- stalled a spread attack, a scheme he learned under Rich Ro- driquez at several stops, including last season at Arizona. Gone is old coordi- nator Garrick Mc- Gee's power running game. Smith wants to spread defenses hor- izontally and create space. Though Illinois still lacks the playmakers to make it work, it can't be worse than the last two seasons when the team fielded one of the five-worst scoring offenses in the nation. 2 Cam Thomas was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster this spring, and he's coming off some shaky starts in a freshman season in which he completed just 42 percent of his passes, threw five interceptions and zero touchdowns. Former Nebraska recruit AJ Bush is a fifth-year transfer after he spent a season warm- ing the bench at Virginia Tech. He's a physical runner but has struggled mightily with his accuracy. There are three true freshmen, too. It should make for an interesting battle in camp. 3 The core of this team is the sophomore class, and though there is talent, it's tough to win in the Big Ten leaning on so many young players. The Illini played 18 true freshmen a year ago, tied for the second-most in the nation. Ten true freshmen cracked the starting lineup. Returning sophomores to watch include receiver Ricky Smalling (31 rec., 501 yards, two touchdowns), defensive end Bobby Roundtree (two sacks), safety Bennett Williams (three INTs) and tight end Louis Dorsey (395 yards, two touchdowns). — Doug Buschon, editor at TIME: 3:30 OR 4 P.M. | DATE: OCT. 13 | LOCATION: CHAMPAIGN, ILL. | TV: TBA COACH: LOVIE SMITH (5-19, THIRD SEASON) 2017 RECORD: 2-10 STARTERS RETURNING (OFFENSE/ DEFENSE): 7/7^ SERIES VS. PURDUE: 44-43-6 LAST MEETING: PURDUE, 29-10 ON NOV. 4, 2017, IN ROSS-ADE STADIUM ^ ATHLON GBI EARLY LINE: PURDUE -6 Game 6 | Illinois Illinois' 2018 Schedule 9/1 KENT STATE 9/8 WESTERN ILLINOIS 9/15 at South Florida 9/21 PENN STATE 10/6 at Rutgers 10/13 PURDUE 10/20 at Wisconsin 10/27 at Maryland 11/3 MINNESOTA 11/10 at Nebraska 11/17 IOWA 11/24 at Northwestern Illinois Cam Thomas

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