That is not the kind of offensive start Illinois was hoping for this season.

In Friday’s season opener against Wisconsin, the Illini offense appeared doomed from the start. Illinois turned the ball over on a fumble during the second play of the game, and the offense never gained much traction after that.

For the first half, the Illini punted four times and added a turnover on downs to go along with the earlier fumble. That set the tone for an offense that completed eight of 22 passes and was held under 220 yards in the lopsided loss to the Badgers.

As Illinois pivots and moves forward, offensive coordinator Rod Smith said the loss was especially tough because he knows this group has been so much better. Jeremy Werner with the Illini Inquirer shared Smith’s comments from the Monday press conference:

“That’s why this is so disappointing because we’ve had some good practices,” Smith said during his Monday weekly press conference. “It guts me a little bit because, damnit, we’re better than that. That’s not us. We know we’re better than that. We’ve got to get better.”

Hopefully the loss does light a fire and ignites a sense of urgency within the offense. Illinois moves onto Week 2 where they will face Purdue at home. The Boilermakers are coming off a strong comeback win over the Hawkeyes in their season opener.

Saturday’s kickoff is set for 12 pm EST on BTN.