Illinois Fighting Illini 2021 team preview

Sep 25, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, United States; Illinois Fighting Illini running back Jakari Norwood (3) tries to cross the line during the second half against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue wins 13-9. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Statistics 2021:

  • 20.7 points per game
  • 43.16% on the third down
  • 168.2 passing yards per game, 7 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 14 sacks allowed
  • 1,123 rushing yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 187.2 rushing yards per game, 6 touchdowns

Illinois HC Bret Bielema looks to build the Illinois offense the same way he designed Wisconsin: run first, physics up front and passing play when needed.

The Fighting Illini have totaled 244 rush attempts over six games, averaging nearly 41 attempts per game. The running game is run by red-shirted sophomore Chase Brown and freshman Josh McCray, though the stance runs deep with red-shirted freshman Reggie Love and senior Mike Epstein (healthy) which also contribute.

The pass attack, on the other hand, is not to be feared. Senior Brandon Peters has started the last three games after Rutgers transfer Artur Sitkowski started the season as a senior quarterback.

Unlike a Michigan team who can run the ball efficiently and hit down on throws, Peters isn’t a quarterback who should give Leonhard plenty of fits. It will start and end on the field for the Fighting Illini offensive.

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