Bret Bielema is looking to the future and his third year in Champaign after Illinois ended the season on Monday with a loss to Mississippi State in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

Illinois ended the season 8-5 in Bielema’s second year with the Illini, a stark improvement on last year’s 5-7 season. The Illinois head coach wants even more out of next year’s campaign. Speaking after the game on Monday, Bielema mentioned that two of his goals for the Illini offense next year are consistency and an identity.

Fulfillment of Bielema’s offensive plan will fall on the shoulders of offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. Lunney became offensive coordinator at Illinois at the beginning of the 2022 season. The offensive coordinator is responsible for an increase of over 80 yards per game from the Illinois offense, and the development of QB Tommy Devito.

Looking ahead, Bielema shared that he believes Lunney will help the Illini to progress. “Barry’s a smart football coach, and I think he’ll continue to move this thing forward,” said Bielema. Lunney signed a contract extension last month that will keep him in Champaign through 2025.