There’ll be no lightweight treatment for Illini’s Nathan Scheelhaase
By HErb Gould email@example.com September 10, 2012 9:36PM
Updated: October 12, 2012 6:20AM
Illinois’ quarterback situation remains as uncertain as third-year starter Nathan Scheelhaase’s sprained left ankle.
Coach Tim Beckman dismissed the notion that with an FCS opponent, Charleston Southern, coming to town Saturday (11 a.m., BTN), he’ll consider letting Scheelhaase’s ankle heal for another week.
``We’re going to play whoever’s ready to play,’’ Beckman said. ``We need to get better as a team. We don’t have any time to rest. We’re not even close to where we need to be right now. As a coaching staff, we need to play our players. That’s why they come play college football—to play on Saturday afternoon.’’
With Scheelhaase wearing a headset on the sideline, backups Reilly O’Toole and Miles Osei combined for three interceptions in Illinois’ 45-14 loss at Arizona State.
All three practiced Sunday night, Beckman said, adding that O’Toole and Osei had some encouraging moments in Tempe.
``The three turnovers are definitely things we can’t do and be successful,’’ Beckman said. ``But I thought Reilly made some crucial plays with his arms and his feet scrambling. I thought Miles did some things, too, with his feet, [but] made some unforced errors. We just aren’t consistent enough on offense. We don’t have that big hitter that we need to have.’’
One bright spot under the desert lights was redshirt freshman running back Josh Ferguson, who ran 14 times for 101 yards, including a 51-yard breakout play.
Sophomore Donovonn Young (65 yards on 12 carries) also made some plays, and true freshman Dami Ayoola (21 yards on seven carries) got his first college touches.
``I thought all three running backs ran well,’’ Beckman said, ``but Josh had some strikes there, and broke a long gainer for us.’’
On the rebound
As grim as things looked for the Illini against the Sun Devils, with the defense down and Scheelhaase out, Beckman said his team is resilient and will bounce back.
``We’re going to respond to it,’’ Beckman said. ``I know the seniors will have this team prepared this week.’’
If Illinois can take care of business in its three-game homestand, which also brings, Louisiana Tech and Penn State to Champaign, it will have a lot to play for.
Illini misreads, combined with Arizona State’s speed, meant a long night on defense.
``There were eye violations,’’ Beckman said. ``We didn’t stay with the men that we were supposed to be staying with. And the speed at which they were running plays is something that’s hard to practice. But they have to be able to perform. We have to have ownership in some of those mistakes.’’