Fun With Football

Bill Cubit and his imaginative offense should have fans having more fun in Memorial Stadium again.

CHAMPAIGN – Is this fun or what?

No, seriously, if a football fan can't have fun watching coordinator Bill Cubit guide this Illinois offense, they're probably a miserable person.

Or somebody pulling for the team Cubit's piling yards up on.

Cubit and his boys continued the feel-good momentum in Saturday's surprising 45-17 win against Cincinatti, gaining 312 yards passing and 210 yards rushing.

The results were impressive, no denying that. But for me, the means were so much more exciting than the end. In other words, the how that leads to the what is just plain fun to watch.

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw 37 times, with 26 completions and four touchdowns. Yeah, that's the same amount of scoring passes the senior had all of last season. And he's spreading the wealth in the process.

Seven players, including two quarterbacks and two wide receivers (three if you count recent tailback convert Devin Church), ran the football. 11 different players, six wideouts, three tight ends and two tailbacks, caught at least one pass. The number of formations and personnel groupings and pre-snap realignments and play-to-play substitutions that led to all that? Too damn many to count.

You may say Cubit is a schemer, but he's not the only one believing right now. He's a confident man, with just the right amount of bravado and charisma to get his guys believing they're better than their guys. I contend his attitude has had a trickle-down effect, revitalizing Scheelhaase and the offense.

If you can make a play, Cubit will give you the ball. That leads, in my opinion, to confidence, poise, mutual respect and dignity. That's what this team needed in the worst way after falling off a cliff last season – self-respect and self-dignity.

Cubit has been like a huge, heartfelt pat on the back for these guys, many of who have spent their career fighting for tough yards and struggling to see rewards on the scoreboard.

That confidence was most evident on third down Saturday. Nine times out of 15 the Illini converted on the most important down in football.

Here's the best part – eight different players converted a first down or touchdown, further fueling the ‘we don't care who you are or what you've done, just go make the play' mentality.

Hey, look, I know it's been a long, long time since the Illini had an offense fans could fully trust and embrace. Two wins with a combined 87 points is giant step down the positive path, but I understand many want to see what will happen next week in Chicago against Washington and later in Big Ten play.

I get that. But right now, with all the stats and scoring and Scheelhaase and coolness and wins, all I can think is… Man, this is fun to watch. And then I wonder what's gonna happen next?

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