CHAMPAIGN — Nathan Scheelhaase has started 27 straight games at quarterback for Illinois. But after an injury to his left ankle forced the fourth-year junior to leave Saturday's season opener against Western Michigan, that streak might not extend into Saturday's game at Arizona State.
"We practiced on Sunday night. He was out there, definitely not full-go," Illinois coach Tim Beckman said Monday. "I know Nathan's going to do whatever he can to be there Saturday."
Beckman said Scheelhaase would not play if he could not participate in practice this week. He didn't offer any details on the severity of the injury, other than saying it is not a high-ankle sprain.
"I've found that when you're not ready and prepared come Saturday if you haven't practiced, you're just going to have a hard time performing on Saturday," Beckman said. "We're going to see how that thing progresses. I just got done seeing him. He looks better and better, at least smiling."
Scheelhaase completed 11 of 18 passes for 126 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Saturday's 24-7 win against Western Michigan. He picked up 21 yards and a touchdown on the ground before leaving in the third quarter.
If Scheelhaase can't play Saturday, the Illini will turn to sophomore Reilly O'Toole, with Miles Osei serving as the backup.
"I think Reilly's very capable of doing what we need to do to be successful. I think Miles is, too," Beckman said. "We're going to build a scheme to help them be successful."
The decision whether Scheelhaase can play will be a group effort with Beckman, Scheelhaase, the athletic training staff and co-offensive coordinators Chris Beatty and Billy Gonzales.
"I want him healthy, and we're going to make that decision based on what's best," Beckman said. "Does he have to be 100 percent? He's got to be healthy enough where he can be successful in what we're asking him to do."
Warm wishes to Prosch. Beckman began his Monday news conference by expressing his condolences to former Illinois fullback Jay Prosch, whose mother Iris died Monday after a battle with cancer.
Prosch, a native of Mobile, Ala., transferred to Auburn in January to be close to his mother. The NCAA granted Prosch a waiver to play at Auburn immediately because of his mother's condition.
"Jay was a part of this program and a part of a lot of these players' lives; he's got a lot of friends here," Beckman said. "I want to send the best to Jay and his family in this time. We're here for him, and we know what he's going through, and we wish him the best."
Prosch, who started for two years at Illinois, started for Auburn on Saturday in a 26-19 loss to Clemson.
Rocket man. Beckman spent part of his Saturday night watching his former team, Toledo, in its season opener against Arizona. The Rockets fell 24-17 in overtime.
"I watched the Rockets for about a half, then I got real tired," he said. "I thought Coach (Matt) Campbell and the Rockets had a chance. They played pretty good. I got a chance to see that."
Saturday was also the first day college coaches could call high school juniors.
"You can imagine what I was doing," Beckman said. "I wasn't watching much football."
Preparing for heat. Saturday's forecast high temperature in Tempe, Ariz., is 102 degrees. The Illini already are taking the necessary steps in preparation for playing in the heat.
"We've been attacking that for the last three weeks," Beckman said. "Our players walk into their meetings and they've got their Gatorade bottles, and if they don't finish those Gatorade bottles, then we make sure that they finish them during each meeting that we have. We are constantly pushing hydration for them."