Only 102 days remain until the kickoff of the 2013 Fighting Illini football season, and Fighting Illini fans can anticipate another interesting season of Illinois football.
The Fighting Illini begin 2013 with an in-state matchup against the Southern Illinois Salukis (cough cough, my alma mater). Fans have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season including the "Chicago Homecoming" game at Soldier Field as well as their first trip to Lincoln to face the Cornhuskers since 1985.
Second-year coach Tim Beckman has many obstacles facing him and the team in 2013, including a very tough schedule. Here we look at Tim Beckman's biggest challenges for 2013.
The 2012 Fighting Illini offense was, well...abysmal. The Illini were 121 overall in total offense with only 3,560 offensive yards.
To put that into perspective, the best overall offense in college football was Baylor, with nearly twice as many yards at 7,439.
Only Temple, Maryland and Massachusetts had less positive yardage than the Illini. Hm, maybe I can get on board with Maryland moving to the Big Ten.
The Illini have a new offensive coordinator in Mark Cubit, who was most recently the head coach at Western Michigan.
Perhaps Tim Beckman's biggest weakness is that his only experience with the Big Ten is his brief stint as the cornerbacks coach at Ohio State in 2005-06. His only head coaching experience is his three years with Toledo.
In no way am I saying that Beckman is incapable of success in the Big Ten. However, he does have a lot to learn. His offensive coordinator is also without Big Ten coaching experience, although Cubit does have more experience overall, including being the offensive coordinator at Missouri, Rutgers and Stanford.
The Illini have a tough schedule in 2013. Only Indiana and Miami (OH) had losing records in 2012, and all were better than the 2012 Illini...and all of this year's opponents who they played in 2012 beat the Illini.
Their only evenly matched game comes on the road at Indiana.
Beckman is already on the "hot seat" after one year, and he could be in danger of losing his job if things don't improve soon.
However, don't let last year's 2-10 record give the impression that Beckman is not doing positive things for the Illini. Beckman's players have excelled in the classroom, with 42 players posting a grade point average of 3.0 or better in fall 2012.
Beckman is also doing a good job of gaining support throughout Chicago for the Illini. Beckman has gone on record to say that he wants to practice in Chicago every year, which would be a great idea in order to generate support and awareness for the Illini throughout Chicago.