At Friday's morning practice, the players wore full pads and there was full contact for the first time. Temperatures were about as cool as at any time during the history of Camp Rantoul.
Here's more from beat writer Bob Asmussen, who will provide midday updates all week from Camp Rantoul:
— The shuffling continues on the Illinois offensive line. While Hugh Thornton and Graham Pocic continued to play left tackle and left guard, respectively, Alex Hill worked with the first unit at right guard. And Michael Heitz, who had been playing guard during most of training camp, was moved back to his original right tackle position. "We talk about it every night," Beckman said. "We've got to get the five best out there." Beckman said the lineup is far from set. The competition continues the remaining three weeks before the opener against Western Michigan.
— The offensive line isn't the only place there there is some experimenting. Beckman had Jonathan Brown and Houston Bates switch linebacker positions Friday morning. Brown worked at the WILL and Bates moved to the MIKE. "It's always being aware of the scheme," Beckman said.
— What did Beckman think of the first practice in full pads? "Not bad," Beckman said. "I thought they competed. We put them in some situations. A big thing for us is red zone. We challenged them with that there at the end." The defense won once and the offense won once.
— Beckman's penchant for competitions extended to the cold tubs outside the locker room. Players tried to see who could throw Gatorade bottles from the cold tubs into a trash can. And the prize for the winning team? "Ice cream," Beckman said. The winners of Beckman's team competitions are always rewarded with some kind of food, "Yeah, they're football players," Beckman said.
— The first two-a-day is scheduled for Saturday. The morning practice will be in full pads, with the afternoon session in shells. The afternoon practice will start with 30 minutes of special teams work.