Look for Illini QB Aaron Bailey to play bigger role
BY STEVE GREENBERG Staff Reporter September 27, 2013 10:22PM
Aaron Bailey has run the football but has yet to throw a pass in his freshman season for the Illini. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
MIAMI (OHIO) AT ILLINOIS
The facts: 11 a.m., BTN, 560-AM.
The records: Illinois 2-1, Miami 0-3.
The line: Illinois by 25.
Updated: October 29, 2013 6:15AM
Five things I don’t want to know yet about Saturday’s Illinois-Miami (Ohio) game in Champaign but am afraid I already do:
1. Miami (0-3), owner of the least-productive offense (149.3 yards per game) in the country, will set a new season high in points. Of course, all it’ll take is 15 to do that — or fewer than half the 34 Southern Illinois scored on the Illini.
2. Illini true freshman quarterback Aaron Bailey will throw his first pass. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has an expanded package of plays for Bailey, who thus far has only run the ball. Bailey might also get a chance to do something less conventional (catch the ball?) via a trick play.
“He’s such a great kid,” Cubit said. “Whatever I give him [to run], it’s always, ‘Thanks, Coach, I appreciate you putting a little more in there.’ ”
3. An Illini cornerback will intercept a pass for the first time. These guys have gotten smoked through three games, for the most part. One of them — V’Angelo Bentley, Eaton Spence, Darius Mosely, Jaylen Dunlap — will make a big play.
Coach Tim Beckman doesn’t have anyone on his staff dedicated to working with the cornerbacks, by the way. Beckman does that himself. He loves true freshmen Mosely and Dunlap, but it might do more for the confidence of the defense if Bentley or Spence has a moment in the sun.
4. For a change, there will be a handful of chunk plays between the tackles for Illinois running backs Josh Ferguson and Donnovon Young. Miami’s defensive front is subpar. The same could be said about the Illini’s run-blocking to date, but the O-line’s sheer size will be a factor in this matchup.
5. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will have a bounce-back performance. The senior completed only 36 percent of his throws in the loss to Washington last time out. Look for him to be back at around 70 percent against a defense that doesn’t rush the passer well.