Illini football notebook
CHAMPAIGN – If you look in the Illinois press packet this week, you'll notice that Josh Brent is listed as the starting defensive tackle. Just as he was listed the first two weeks.
But Brent hasn't played a down this season for the Illini.
"Josh has had some issues," Illinois coach Ron Zook said.
Zook was asked about Brent's status during his Tuesday news conference.
"It's one of those things that it's a wait and see," Zook said.
Brent was in uniform at practice Tuesday.
Open season. Zook said the players are looking forward to having Sept. 20 off. It's the first open date during Zook's three-plus seasons at Illinois.
"I'm kind of excited about it for them," Zook said.
"They feel that open date. They know they can lay it on the line in every aspect."
The team will practice next week but will take a few days off.
"They can relax the following weekend," Zook said. "It's a positive thing. It's a mental thing. You'd like to have it maybe a week or two later, but it is when it is and we'll take it."
A good look. Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Michael Desormeaux gained 1,141 rushing yards in 2007 and had 146 yards in the 2008 opener against Southern Mississippi.
To mimic Desormeaux in practice, Zook said, the scout team offense is being run by freshman Jack Ramsey. Ramsey was a quarterback at Chicago Simeon before converting to receiver at Illinois.
"Jack's a pretty quick guy," Zook said. "There are a lot of similarities to the things that they do and the things that we do. We're more concerned about our guys getting used to getting hold and tackling guys."
Staying put. After considering an early departure for Champaign-Urbana, which would have included a prac-tice in Rantoul, Louisiana-Lafayette decided to leave Friday.
The team considered the early move because of the threat of Hurricane Ike. But that storm is pushing to the west of Lafayette and shouldn't hinder the team's ability to make its preplanned trip.
The Ragin' Cajuns already have had their season disrupted by Hurricane Gustav, which cost them some practices but no games.
"They've had some issues with the weather and the hurricane stuff," Zook said. "Not only do you have it where your practices get screwed up, but most of their football team is from Louisiana. They've got their families to be worried about."
During his time at Florida, Zook dealt with hurricanes. During one storm, Zook saw a player outside the meeting who said he was watching his hometown get destroyed.
"It's an unsettling experience," Zook said. "But the one thing about it, in the last few years, at least it won't be the first one."
Zook wants to play the game. Rescheduling would be difficult for both schools.
"No, no, no," Zook said. "We don't want to cancel the game."