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2010 Preview: Illinois Links!

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Ron Zook's hope for a savior (via <a href="">The Chicago Tribune</a>).
Ron Zook's hope for a savior (via The Chicago Tribune).

It is once again time.  For you Rock M veterans out there, you know that, once we're within earshot of the upcoming Mizzou football season, we spend a week previewing each FBS opponent on the schedule ... and we are officially within earshot of the 2010 season.  First up, as always (well, until next year anyway): Illinois.  Today we'll walk through what's gone on in Champaign since the end of the 2009 season and what the main storylines have been.  Tomorrow, we dig into the numbers. To the links!

2009 Summary

We at Rock M Nation tended not to believe the Illinois hype last offseason, but we still didn't predict a 3-9 season.  And we REALLY didn't predict Ron Zook keeping his job after a 3-9 season.

New Coordinators

Illinois' offseason took shape a lot like the 1999-00 offseason did for Larry Smith at Mizzou -- you're allowed to stay, but you have to more or less revamp your staff.  A Petrino brother comes to town to run the offense, a Brohm brother comes in to teach the quarterbacks, and K-State defensive coordinator Vic Koenning was brought on to lead the defense despite, you know, the fact that K-State's defense wasn't very good last year.  He was a solid defensive coach at Clemson, and he can't be blamed for not being able to do much in his first year with a relatively untalented group of players at K-State (thanks again, Ron Prince), but it was still not quite as impressive as the offensive hires.

Spring Practice Links

With new coordinators and a new quarterback, Zook had to treat this spring like a building experience ... even if he might not have much time to do any building.  Zook should be commended for not pulling a Ron Prince and signing 22 JUCO players to try to save the sinking ship.  If this is indeed his final season, he will leave his successor with a reasonably decent situation for building.

Scheelhaase is The Man

Former Mizzou target Nathan Scheelhaase has officially been named starting QB for Illinois in 2010.  Again, that means good things for 2011-13, but that could make 2010 that much more difficult.  (Then again, it could mean good things for Illinois against Mizzou, just judging by how past QB newcomers have fared in this series recently.)

Eddie McGee Has a Blog!

Eddie McGee has a blog!  Not sure if there's any other explanation needed.