Lovie Smith understands that the 2020 college football season is going to be different. But rather than gripe about the changes across the sport, the Illinois head coach says he and his team are ready for what the unique year has to offer.

Illinois is coming off a 6-7 campaign last season, reaching a bowl game for the first time under Smith and upsetting a highly-ranked Wisconsin team and overcoming a 25-point deficit to defeat Michigan State on the road. The success from the 2019 season created a lot of momentum entering this fall.

Some of that has been derailed. With limited spring practice and summer workouts together, the Illini are going to have to prepare in a hurry for their Week 1 showdown against No. 19 Wisconsin.

Though the summer and fall have felt much different, Smith says that some normalcy is coming this week.

“We get in pads [Wednesday] and then it will really feel like any other year for me,” Smith said, according to Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer.

Smith went on to acknowledge that this year will be different — not just for Illinois, but for everyone. But his team is prepared to embrace the abnormal and get ready to build off last year’s success.

“2020 is just a different year,” Smith said, “but we’ve embraced it being different.”

Illinois does return a lot of production from last year’s team, which should help in the early stages of the season. Many have tabbed this team as Smith’s most talented and experienced, thinking the Illini could’ve been a bowl contender for  a second-consecutive season.