How the Illini are trying to be more like Florida State

How the Illini are trying to be more like Florida State
July 29, 2014, 2:45 pm
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Vinnie Duber

Everyone wants to be like the best.

But the Illini are taking that a bit more to heart this offseason, trying to figure out a way in which they can be like defending national champion Florida State.

Of course, this is in a specific realm: turnovers, particularly interceptions.

The Seminoles were the nation's leader in interceptions last season, with the defense picking off opposing quarterbacks 26 times. Florida State's +17 turnover ratio ranked third in the nation.

It's one area where Tim Beckman said his team needs to improve if it's going to win more games. The Illini were dead last in the country last season with only three interceptions. Illinois had a -10 turnover ratio.

[MORE BIG TEN: Illini's Beckman responds to pressure, defends improvement]

Beckman thinks some of that secondary play will improve with a more experienced group this year. It's all part of a drastic improvement needed on that side of the ball.

“We have to play better, there’s no question about that," Beckman said Monday at Big Ten Media Day. "And that’s tackling, that’s breaking on the football. If you look at takeaways, the turnover ratio, who was (one of the best) in the country? Well, Florida State, and they just happened to win the national championship. Those are things that we’ve got to get better at doing, and that’s intercepting the football because we only had three interceptions last year.

"I think it does have a little bit to do with youth, but I think it also has something to do with playing together. And now the corners and the safeties know one another because they have played together. And they do understand fits, the linebackers understand fits better. So I expect us to be much better on defense.”