Bret Bielema’s 1st season as Illinois’ head coach he went 5-7. Despite what the record shows, Illinois AD Josh Whitman is confident in Bielema’s abilities per Joey Wagner of 247Sports.

Whitman explained that he understands that these things don’t happen in an instant. The Fighting Illini AD is ready to help Bielema be as successful as he can possibly be. Bielema made some big moves in year 1. The Fighting Illini were able to upset No. 7 Penn State in 9-overtimes, knock off No. 20 Minnesota, and crush their in-state rivals Northwestern for the 1st time since 2014.

Here’s what Whitman about the strides the team made in year 1 under Bielema and his staff:

“I was really pleased with the progress we were able to make on the defensive side of the football,” Whitman said. “I felt like we were one of the more improved defenses in the country. I think the statistics bore that out. Some of the improvements we were able to make in terms of scoring defense and total defense were notable. Grateful to Ryan Walters for coming on board and providing his exceptional leadership and it was important for agreeing to stay with us. We were excited to extend his contract and secure him as part of our staff going into the future. Really looking forward to his continued work on the defensive side of the football.”