Can't Wait For Saturday | Ward inherits awards candidates in return engagement at Illinois

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Greetings from "Can't Wait For Saturday," your morning morsel of college football, courtesy of longtime Illini beat writer, AP Top 25 voter and Heisman state rep Bob Asmusssen. He'll give you his views each day on the game he loves.


Throughout training camp and leading up to the Sept. 2 opener against Toledo, Illinois has routinely made its assistant coaches available to the media.

On Tuesday, running backs coach Thad Ward was one of the interviewees along with secondary coach Antonio Fenelus.

Ward is in his second stint at Illinois after serving earlier on Lovie Smith's staff. (Remember "Littyville"? That came in part because of Ward.)

Ward returns to a much different situation at Illinois. The program is coming off its first winning season in a decade.

The running game is expected to be a big part of the team's offense in 2023.

Two of Ward's guys — Reggie Love III and Josh McCray — are on the Doak Walker Award watch list. The honor goes to the nation's top running back.

"I'm happy for them," Ward said. "But we have to do the work now."