Biggest Questions Facing Illini

The trek to Rantoul is a few weeks away. So as we get close, countless stories will be written regarding the keys for this year's teams, most important players, most important game, etc. So let's beat them to the punch. That said, we give you Illinois Football 09.

Most Important Game: This one is kind of obvious, but so much rides on the first one. Illinois will not necessarily be an underdog this time, the first time in awhile. And awaiting among the first five games are ones against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State. Starting 1-0 will mean so much.

Most Important Game II: OK, that one was so obvious, let's pick another one. How about Michigan State? Stay with me here -- by the time the game comes around, Illinois probably will be anything from 3-1 to 1-3. If it is the former, 4-1 and maybe it's off to the BCS. But 1-4 could be disastrous. If they are 2-2 coming in, it means either over .500 or under heading on a two-game road trip. Big, big game.

Most Important Player: Two many obvious ones here -- Juice, Tez, Brent if he returns, etc. So let me give you another one, my personal favorite, Jarred Fayson. Here is why -- Illinois has had a great, great receiver for two years in Arrelious Benn. But nobody to go with him. At least not another great one. And teams have really concentrated on stopping him. But if they had to pick which great receiver to cover, Juice will have more wide open guys. That would be huge.

Most Important Player II: Jack Ramsey. Sorry, I can't help myself. I love this receiving corps and I think Ramsey will be a star.

Most Important Player III!: OK, OK, a defensive guy. Tez is obvious, but I'll take Donsay Hardeman. Sure hope he can play. The defense needs playmakers, hitters. He is both.

Guys who could have a big year: Either Ford or LeShoure. Just a hunch that one will be over 1,000 yards. Remember, Mike Schultz loves to run the football, so look for it on the ground. Also Benn with far less double coverage than the past two seasons. And two tandems -- Brent/Liguet and Thomas/Hicks. I think d-tackle and cornerback are real strengths.

All Conference types?: Jon Asamoah, Michael Hoomanawanaui, Benn, Liguet, Brent, Eller.

Keep and eye on: Jacob Charest. Just a hunch.

Best opposting player: Terrelle Pryor. I just think the guy is a beast.

Biggest concern: Pass rush. With Jerry Brown not making grades, where do they turn. Can you say blitz packages?

Best Day: The day I arrive in Rantoul for a week!

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