Illini Set to Take on Tough California Team

For the first time in nearly four years, University of Illinois fans are talking football at this time of the year. In recent years after a few games it was, "When does basketball season start?" With new Head Coach Ron Zook in town, things may be changing a bit.

Ron Zook is proud to be 2-0 right now. "I told the kids to enjoy these wins; they're hard to come by." It is true - just ask the Iowa Hawkeyes or Oklahoma Sooners. During the college football season a loss can keep a good team from winning a national title. I'm not saying Illinois is at that level, but with only 11 games - they all matter.

Right now Zook is really worried about his own team. He knows there're things that need to be corrected in order for them to beat a strong Cal team. "We need to get the little things corrected and learn how to play for 60 minutes now. When your emotional level gets down, you have to know it's a long game," Zook said.

The first two games junior quarterback Tim Brasic (Riverside-Brookfield High School) started a little slow, but after the second series he had a much better feel of the offense. Zook has also noticed this of his signal caller. However being a true road test on Saturday, if they fall behind against Cal, it may be a little tougher to come back.

Another area the Illini must improve each week will be its tackling, and they've done that the first two games. "Once again, tackling is an area we can improve on and it's getting better." In years past that was a weak point for Illinois, but you can see the improvement from week one to week two. Guys were rapping up better and San Jose State couldn't gain 20 yards rushing the entire first half.

The odds-makers see the Illini as a 21 point underdog, but with the new no huddle offense, a few new wrinkles, and a chip on their shoulder, this bunch is really starting to believe it can win. After all - Zook said, "Before you can win, you must know you can."


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