Illinois football’s Cubit: ‘I don’t think anybody can stop us’
BY STEVE GREENBERG Staff Reporter March 6, 2014 9:31PM
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 14: Aaron Bailey #15 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies at Soldier Field on September 14, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Washington defeated Illinois 34-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: March 6, 2014 11:10PM
Bill Cubit has been as sick as a dog of late with the sort of winter cold that can knock the upbeat attitude right out of a guy. Out of most guys, that is.
But not Cubit. Illinois’ 60-year-old offensive coordinator is a couple of cough drops short of downright giddy as the Illini continue to roll through their opening week of spring practices.
Of course, we’re talking about Cubit here, a guy who has given off nothing but positive vibes since arriving in Champaign before last season. Plus, who knows? It’s possible all those cough drops have impaired his judgment just a tiny bit.
But how could any Illini fan not get all geeked up over comments like this?
“I don’t think anybody can stop us,” Cubit said.
Let him elaborate.
“Last year,” he said, “we talked about going from worst to first in total offense in the [Big Ten]. We didn’t accomplish that; we got to fifth. But I think we’ve got a chance to be the best offense in the conference.”
Talk about a mouthful. Illinois has waved goodbye to its all-time leader in total offense, four-year starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. The top four wide receivers from last season, including explosive playmaker Steve Hull, are gone, as is right tackle Corey Lewis.
“There’s a lot of holes out there right now,” Cubit allowed.
The offensive line, with four starters back, should be a strong suit. Guard Teddy Karras and left tackle Simon Cvijanovic both appear ready to ascend to a higher level of performance.
Wide receiver remains the biggest offseason issue to sort out.
That doesn’t address Question No. 1 for most followers of the program: Who’s going to start at quarterback?
Wes Lunt, a former starter at Oklahoma State, is the likely frontrunner. Senior Reilly O’Toole is getting an honest share of first-team reps though and Cubit continues to insist O’Toole has a chance to win the competition. Aaron Bailey, who was used almost exclusively as a runner as a freshman in 2013, is legitimately in the mix, too.
“To be honest with you, the quarterbacks don’t worry me one bit,” Cubit said. “I told them, ‘Whoever is quarterback here is going to be a candidate for All-American because of the way the style of offense is.’ ”