Illinois was bringing some momentum from the 2019 season into spring football. After making a bowl game for the first time since the 2014 campaign, the Fighting Illini were hoping to build another successful season in Champaign.

But things took an unexpected turn. An ongoing global health pandemic hit the United States and halted most of our daily activities, including sports. So, with no spring football, Lovie Smith and his team have had to make adjustments just like everyone else.

That doesn’t mean the expectations have changed for Smith or the Illini.

“Before this virus started impacting our country, we were preparing to have the best football season we’ve had in a long time at the University of Illinois,” Smith said Friday, according to Gavin Good of the Peoria Journal Star. “Nothing has changed.”

With players and coaches unable to participate in team activities or meet in person, there’s a lot of self-accountability for the Illini right now. Players are working out at home, doing their best to train while away from the football field.

Like other programs across the country, Smith is still meeting with players and the coaching staff via meetings through video applications to keep in touch.

During this ongoing health crisis, there have also been some rumors or speculation that the college football season could be delayed, or canceled. Even ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said he’d be “shocked” if the NFL or college football seasons would be played in 2020.

Smith is takingĀ  a more optimistic approach, saying he’s “glass half-full” when it comes to outlook of the season.

Obviously, the Illini are preparing as if the season will go on as planned. And, if it does, they’re still hoping to piece together one of the more memorable seasons Illinois has seen in quite some time.