The Illinois Fighting Illini finished 7-6 under Ron Zook in 2011.
A major area for improvement is on the defensive side of the ball. Despite losing Corey Liuget and Martez Wilson to the NFL, the Fighting Illini do return a fair amount of talent on defense.
In the Big Ten, the Fighting Illini will need to be stout against the run. They will also need to be blanket-like in the secondary, especially with the signing of Russell Wilson with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Illinois is probably not set to contend this season, but several players could take another step forward.
Here are the seven best players on the Illinois' defense: