Bret Bielema supported his coordinators after losing against Michigan State this weekend. Even with the loss, Illinois is 7-2 and already has its best season since 2011.

A lot of that has to do with a positive staff around Bielema:

“I think I got two of the better coordinators I’ve had in my career,” Bielema said while responding to questions about the coaching staff.

The current offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. is the former associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of UTSA from 2020 and 2021. Illinois’ offense struggled against the Spartans and converted for just 35% of 3rd downs and 16% on 4th downs.

Defensively the Illini have had an outstanding year under coordinator Ryan Walters. Walters arrived at Illinois following 6 seasons at Missouri, 3 of which he was the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.

Against Michigan State, Illinois didn’t allow 300 yards of total offense.

Bielema would go on to reference that statistically, the team had a productive day where starting quarterback Tommy DeVito completed 67.5% of his passes for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns. Despite that, the Illini had several self-inflicted mistakes and special teams mishaps that ultimately cost them.

Prior to this weekend, Illinois was on a 6 game winning streak and was ranked No. 16 in the College Football Playoff Rankings.