Illini WRs coach Mike Bellamy: Illini 'not executing when we need to execute'

Illini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner chats with Illinois wide receivers coach Mike Bellamy about the Illini wideouts' struggles to produce

Do you watch the Penn State film or do you burn it and forget about it?

Mike Bellamy: “I watched it with Geronimo (Allison) and we watch some things because I think it's important to learn from it but you want to move on to the next opportunity. You can learn from some of your mistakes, but ultimately, you want to get it out of your head. We did that. Coach Cubit was adamant about it. Some of the guys we watched it who are perfectionists and wanted to learn from it.”

What is the biggest issue with your wide receiver group right now?

Bellamy: “I think we’re just not producing when the opportunities are there and not executing when we need to execute. When your number is called, you have to be able to make a play. You can’t just rely on one guy. You can’t have a great quarterback and a good offensive line that’s protecting him and not make a play. You can’t have an excuse of Josh not being in or Mikey or Josh not playing. That’s always an opportunity for the next guy to step up. That’s how I look at it. There’s no excuses. The next guy has to step up and be able to make plays.”

Geronimo Allison is getting a lot of focus from opposing teams. What can he or you guys do to get him open when teams are keying on him so much?

Bellamy: “I think Coach Cubit has a plan.You put him in different positions to be successful. You can’t just allow him to be a lame duck, sitting out there with no help. You move him around. You prepare him better. That’s what we did today, watched a lot of film, sat in the room and talked about different ways of getting off and not panicking. That’s the thing about it. You can’t flinch. When things don’t go your way, you have to realize that those other guys on the other side are also on scholarship and there to stop you. He has to prepare better. Again, it’s an 11-man game. You have to be out there and others have to contribute as well.”

A lot has been made of the drops. I think it’s 46 this season. But getting open against press man coverage with two deep safeties also is an issue. What’s the bigger concern: is it the physicality of getting open or the mentality of these drops?

Bellamy: “I think that comes with the territory. The territory is you have to be someone who runs, gets open, realize that there’s another guy on the side that’s trying to stop you, and then you have to catch the ball. So all those things have to be addressed. All those things have to be talked about in the meetings. But we just have to emphasize the little things, and the little things will take care of themselves once we start focusing on them. The drops are the drops, there’s no doubt about it. But not being able to get open, that comes with the responsibility of being a wide receiver as well. We just have to keep getting better. You can’t say, ‘Just get it out of your head,’ because it’s something that’s there. You just got to go for the next one, and the next time the ball is there, you  got to over-emphasize and over-concentrate on the ball.”

Yeah, and it’s not like you guys don’t work on the JUGS machine, right? I think it’s what 25 after each practice?

Bellamy: “Yeah, you get on the JUGS machine. You come up with different drills where you concentrate on catching the ball. If they drop a ball, no matter what drill it is, they got to do up-downs or push ups. It’s not one of those punishment things, but it’s more or less one of the things that’s important to understand that you have to focus and you have to concentrate on your responsibilities.”

Purdue coming up this week. You guys are trying to get to a bowl game. Purdue is feeling good after beating Nebraska and they have some playmakers in that secondary. What’s the biggest task for the offense to get some confidence?

Bellamy: “Again, we’re going right into what they do best which is man coverage. It’s another challenge where if you’re looking to play major college football and you dream about playing Big Ten football, you dream about man-on-man and may the best man win. So we’re going to be prepared. We’re going to make sure we have a plan to execute. We’ll be ready to go on Saturday. I don’t think we’re taking Purdue lightly. I’m pretty sure they’re going to be fired up. We got to go in there like we’re trying to win another game to get to our goal at the end of the season.”

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