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Cubit relishes Illini’s reclamation projec

CHAMPAIGN – Bill Cubit says he enjoys a reclamation project, and has made much of his career as a football coach out of them.

“I enjoy seeing kids who maybe have not been successful and giving them a plan and all the sudden they’re successful,” the new Illinois offensive coordinator said Wednesday, two days after being hired. “That’s kind of been my whole career.”

The former Western Michigan head coach takes over an offense at Illinois where not much went right last season. The Illini were 2-10 (0-8 in the Big Ten), lost their last eight games and scored 16.7 points a game, last in the conference.

Cubit said he has met with some of his players, including his quarterbacks. His message? You don’t want to live through that again.

“Hey look, you went through that last year, it’s gone, it’s over, but you know, you never want to go back,” he said. “So how do you go to the next level? You’ve got to give every ounce of your energy.”

Cubit still is figuring out what kind of offense he’ll run but expects to be more balanced than the generally pass-heavy teams he had at Western Michigan. He sees promise in Illinois’ running backs, who include Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson. They combined for 883 yards on 206 carries last season.

Cubit also likes the no-huddle offense he used with the Broncos, something Illinois fans often saw under former coach Ron Zook. It could be summer before Cubit chooses a starting quarterback between Nathan Scheelhaase and Reilly O’Toole. Both started games last fall.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman hired Cubit to take over the offensive after co-coordinator Chris Beatty was fired. Billy Gonzales, who shared the coordinator duties, will coach wide receivers.

The Broncos fired Cubit after they finished 4-8 last season.

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