By all indications, the Fighting Illini are back on track.
Since beating Indiana 41-20 on October 8, 2011 to start 6-0 and rise to No. 16 in the AP Poll, the Illini had lost 16 of 19 games heading into this season.
The historic slump resulted in Ron Zook’s ousting after the 2011 regular season and things only seemed to get worse in Tim Beckman’s first season as the Illini went winless in the B1G and finished 2-10 overall.
More changes were made to the coaching staff in what has become a recurring theme for the last several years. Especially at offensive coordinator, where former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit became the fifth Illini coach in the last six seasons to hold the position.
Cubit replaced co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Chris Beatty while Billy Gonzales was moved to wide receivers.
Having two offensive coordinators proved to be a disaster as the Illini ranked last in the B1G in points (16.7) and total offense (296.7). Cubit looked to jump-start an offense that looked more futile with each passing week while quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was out.
Through two games in 2013, the Illini have surprised many. The offense has thrived under just one offensive coordinator, scoring 87 total points, and made astounding leaps in the national offensive rankings, including the categories of passing offense, passing efficiency, scoring, and total offense.
It’s still too early in the season to fully judge the Illini’s progress. Another big test awaits in Chicago at Soldier Field with the Washington Huskies on Saturday. The game will mark only the second time the Illini have played at Soldier Field.
But after seeing what they’ve done in two weeks, the Illini appear to be heading back in the right direction, and having just one offensive coordinator has a lot to do with it.