In addition to appearing on this week’s Champaign Room Podcast we have a Q&A with the home site of The Champaign Room. This week we have Trevor Vallese from the Champaign Room stopping by to answer questions about Saturday’s Cannon battle in Champaign.
T-Mill: Last season Illinois had more yards rushing against Purdue than it had int he previous four B1G games. Purdue gave up 400 yards on the ground last week. How excited is Ke'Shawn Vaughn right now?
Trevor: I'm not sure Vaughn is the right guy to get excited. He was sat in favor of Kendrick Foster and rookie Reggie Corbin last week at Nebraska and both backs performed well. Vaughn was clearly pissed about the benching; he took to Twitter immediately after the game and simply tweeted "3," which was the number of touches he received. But I'm sure the entire Illini backfield is salivating at the chance to face the Purdue secondary.
T-Mill: Illinois is a bit of a deceptive 1-3 after losses to three very good teams. What did you see in those games that was encouraging?
Trevor: The Nebraska game was much more encouraging than either North Carolina or Western Michigan. The Illini were able to hang with a top 15 team on the road for three quarters and I really thought, if not for a few questionable calls, they could've pulled the upset. I was disappointed at how much this team looked like last year's team following the Western Michigan debacle, so I guess the most encouraging thing I've seen this season is the team's ability to rebound even thought it hasn't translated into wins yet.
T-Mill: Purdue is an absolute mess at offensive tackle at the moment. Defensively, who takes advantage of this?
Trevor: The whole defensive line? Seriously though, Illinois' DL is not one to mess with. They have three potential NFL players and Dawune Smoot is a projected top 10 overall pick right now. Aided by the likes of Rob Bain, Carroll Phillips, Chunky Clements and Gimel President, this Illinois D-line is one of the best in the conference and should be able to take ample advantage of a depleted Purdue O-line.
T-Mill: I saw your tweet about Mikey Dudek in a wheelchair being your second best receiver. Is that true right now?
Trevor: Yes, unfortunately. Malik Turner has been everything fans thought he could be and more, which is great to see. But after Turner there are slim pickings. Guys aren't running their routes correctly, there are dropped passes that should be caught, etc. Some criticism of the passing offense has been shouldered by QB Wes Lunt, but a lot of the blame should go to a weak WR unit.
T-Mill: Let's talk stadium renovations. You just announced a nine figure renovation. What does it include and where can we get some of it? How is it different from the most recent renovation?
Trevor: Josh Whitman announced a $132 million renovation on Monday to the south end zone of Memorial Stadium, which will include more seating, brand new practice facilities and offices and a whole lot more. It was an exciting announcement given that in the past several years Illinois has also installed a new scoreboard and PA system in the football stadium as well as a total rebuild of the basketball arena. It won't be completed until 2020, but these latest renovations will hopefully put more of a bow on past year's renovations as well as some added fan excitement.
T-Mill: Is it too much to ask that if Illinois wins, they win by enough to get Hazell fired? We're in football hell over here.
Trevor: Believe me when I say this, I feel your pain. I really do. I know exactly where you're at right now as a program because Illinois was there not too long ago. Then we made a home run hire for AD who then turned around and hired Lovie Smith his first day on the job. I'm not sure how large of a deficit it will take for Hazell to be dismissed before the team gets on the bus back to West Lafayette, but I'm sure Illinois will be happy to oblige. I've got the Illini winning big, 38-21.