Offensive line an area of strength for Illinois in 2020, Lovie Smith says
To be good in the B1G offensively, you have to be good at the offensive line position. Lovie Smith believes that will actually be a strength at Illinois this season.
Coming into the season, Illinois’ offensive line was lauded as one of the top returning units in the B1G West. With Kendrick Green, Alex Palczewski and Doug Kramer all returning, the Illini have the experience up front needed to be successful in the league. And now they’ve got a returning starter at quarterback in Brandon Peters — something else the program has lacked recently — which should provide the offensive with some cohesiveness.
On Wednesday, though, Smith couldn’t stop talking about how excited he is about the guys up front.
” I could talk everyday about our offensive line. Love the guys. Trust in them. Believe in them,” Smith said, according to Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer. “If you’re a defensive lineman, you have to be ready to go because they’re going to be ready to go every day.”
Illinois’ offensive line did a solid job of paving running lanes for backs in 2019, but still ranked ninth in the B1G with a 144.5 yards per game average. At times, the Illini were able to run the football at will, piling up 242 yards against Purdue, 221 against Nebraska, 207 against Akron and 204 against Rutgers. Other times, they couldn’t move the ball at all.
The Fighting Illini were held to less than 100 yards on the ground in four B1G contests in 2019, including a season-low 14 yards in the season-finale loss to Northwestern.
If Illinois is more consistent at the line of scrimmage this fall, it will have the opportunity to have a strong season in the B1G West. Clearly, Smith has faith that can happen.