All eyes on Illini offense, quarterbacks as Fall Camp begins

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Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 8:08 PM CDT
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CHAMPAIGN (25 News Now) - The college football season has arrived as the Fighting Illini kicked off fall camp Saturday.

As the first game approaches, all eyes will be on the Illini offense with a new offensive coordinator and a quarterback competition.

Barry Lunney Jr. was brought in as the new offensive coordinator this season, replacing Tony Petersen. Lunney is quickly making a positive impression on the team.

“I just love how much Coach Lunney is bringing to our offense,” Alex Palczewski, Illinois senior offensive lineman, said. “You know, like every single meeting just talking with him. It’s truly, it’s awesome knowing I have an offensive coordinator who understands what he has.”

“Our offensive coordinator, man that dude’s a confident guy you know,” Casey Washington, Illinois junior wide receiver, said.

Lunney brings an up-tempo offense to Illinois. You won’t see many huddles, things will be moving fast, and the players, they’re ready for it.

“It is very tough,” said Palczewski. “Obviously, last year we were in a huddle offense a little bit slower but this is what I’m used to. I love this up-tempo offense.”

“I think more than anything he’s an aggressive play caller and you’re out there playing faster and the tempo is a little sped up now and you got to adapt to that but we ran it good in the offseason so we’ll be alright,” said Washington.

Now, who will be running that offense is another question. A quarterback battle is underway. Returning man Art Sitkowski battling Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito for the starting job, but that decision isn’t one head coach Bret Bielema is making right away.

“I think someone has to separate himself over a period of time,” said Bielema. “I don’t think it’s a one-day evaluation and promotion it’s something we’ll keep into effect.”

But so far, both QBs are making good impressions with very different personalities.

“Art’s one of those guys that’s kind of like Lou Holtz,” Washington said. “He’s going to be a hall of fame coach I’m calling it now. So, he had us out there, on time and ready to go.”

“Tommy’s my boy. He’s really confident. You know, he’s got that Jersey swag. He just gets out there and lets it rip,” Washington added.

Bielema says a decision on who will be the starting QB may not be made until game week when the Illini take on Wyoming.

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