Spring practice in college football exists for two fundamental reasons. The primary reason is to get a head-start on the upcoming season. Coaches use it to implement new players and principles in the playbook, so that by the time training camp opens, everybody has a better idea of what’s expected of them.
The other — and some would argue the more important reason — is for fans and media to overreact to everything they see in this minor glimpse to sustain their college football souls for the next few months. Well, I’m not a coach because I haven’t been able to play a new version of NCAA Football in years, but I am a writer. So while I can’t teach you how to play football, I can help you figure out what wild overreactions you should have following spring practice in the Big Ten.
There’s no need to thank me, but I’d appreciate it if you could tell EA Sports to speed up the new game.
The Illini will have two 1,000-yard rushers: In 2010, a few years before Bret Bielema would leave Wisconsin for Arkansas, both James White and John Clay rushed for over 1,000 yards in Wisconsin uniforms. A third back on the team, Montee Ball, rushed for 996 yards and 18 touchdowns that same season. After watching Illinois’ spring game, you could wonder if we’ll see a repeat of that performance under Bielema in Champaign. Even with new offensive coordinator Barry Lunney calling plays and a new QB in Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito, Illinois’ offense was at its best when handing the ball off to Chase Brown and Josh McCray. Brown (1,005 yards and 5 TD in 2021) rushed for 90 yards on 11 carries in the game, while McCray (549 yards, 2 TD) rushed for