LIVE! UI-Charleston Southern
CHAMPAIGN – All in one tidy Saturday, Tim Beckman's Illini recovered and prepared.
Illinois rolled past Charleston Southern 44-0 in another lightly attended game at Memorial Stadium.
The win followed a concerning 45-14 loss at Arizona State and in advance of a dangerous matchup with Louisiana Tech next week.
Aside from the attendance – announced at 45,369 but considerably smaller than that – just about everything went right for Illinois (2-1).
Quarterback Reilly O'Toole bounced back from a nervous performance at Arizona State and finished 26-for-31 with 333 yards passing. The sophomore threw five touchdown passes, including a pair to Ryan Lankford. It was the first time an Illinois quarterback has thrown five touchdowns since Juice Williams against Missouri in 2008. O'Toole's 83.9 completion percentage established a school record.
Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (ankle) didn't play. Neither did Graham Pocic (knee), Josh Ferguson (concussion) or Houston Bates (lower body injury).
Charleston Southern (0-3) has lost 16 straight games and faces the Shorter Hawks next Saturday. Illinois improved to 12-0 against FCS opponents.
HQ Live Report - Illinois 37, Charleston Southern 0 - End of third quarter
-Minnesota 28, Western Michigan 17. Third quarter.
-Ohio State 20, Cal 14. Third quarter.
-Nebraska 28, Arkansas State 10. Third quarter.
-Purdue 40, Eastern Michigan 9. Third quarter.
-The basketball contingent - players, coaches, Kendrick Nunn - has left the building.
-O'Toole continues his efficient ways. Expecting to see Miles Osei in the final quarter.
-Fans are attempting to do the wave. The gaps in the
-Wideout Darius Millines is on the sideline with his left arm in a sling.
-Charleston Southern just endured one of the worst offensive series we've seen in a while. "Three penalties and a flubbed punt!" as Tate put it.
-Every fan in here could have brought three friends... and you'd have Ohio State's attendance today (105,232).
-Illinois' defense gained a bit of redemption and is working toward its first shutout since 2007 (Illinois 21, Western Illinois 0).
-Ashante Williams has a team-high seven tackles. Still digging Mason Monheim's performance, too (five tackles, 1.5 TFL, interception).
Back to wrap it up.
HQ Live Report - Illinois 20, Charleston Southern 0 - Halftime
-Efficient-if-conservative first half from Reilly O'Toole, who looked far more comfortable in central Illinois' sunshine than Tempe's bright lights. The sophomore's only mistake was a red-zone interception - we call that a "Cutler" - against a superb line of 15-of-18 for 150 yards and two TDs. Great to see him bounce back.
-Mike Thomas and John Groce were down by the north end zone having a conversation about basketball recruiting.
-Large gathering of Boy Scouts in the east stands for today's game. Hope you saw our cover photo of the Scouts in the News-Gazette today.
-Dami Ayoola's second-effort, 28-yard touchdown run got Loren Tate all fired up. That ended a 57-yard scoring drive for the Illini.
-Scary Louisiana Tech plays Rice tonight before traveling to this fine building next weekend.
-Did you know the Marching Illini hold a 7 a.m. practice on game day? It's true. No wonder they're so good.
-We've decided today's crowd is slightly bigger than the Western Michigan game. Maybe 25,000-30,000 in the seats.
-Look forward to listening to fellow USANA associate J Leman on the DVR when this one's over.
-Charleston Southern quarterback Briar Van Brunt had 63 yards rushing, most on a long run in the second quarter. That was their highlight - along with a hefty payday I'll write about in Sunday's News-Gazette.
-Ryan Lankford with a big first half - seven catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Back in a few.
HQ Live Report - Illinois 13, Charleston Southern 0 - End of first quarter
Basketball writer and football sub Paul Klee taking over the Live Report from here on out.
-Illinois captains for the coin toss: Donovonn Young, Eddie Viliunas, Michael Buchanan and Tommy Davis.
-The attendance today is incredible - and not in a good way. It's roughly the same as the opener, with no hurricane remnants to blame. Tate just asked if you could fit all of these fans into the Assembly Hall. The legend thinks it's been 40-something years since fan interest was this low.
-On that note, 2013 basketball prospect Kendrick Nunn arrived here at Memorial Stadium about 20 minutes before kickoff today. For Illinois, Nunn's official visit has gone as well it could without a verbal commitment.
-Illinois basketball's reunion started last night with a dinner at the Colonnades Club, where John Groce spoke to former Illini. It continued this morning with a pregame social. Stephen Bardo and Robert Archibald are down on the field hanging out with the current players.
-We'll have a Sunday feature on Rayvonte Rice in tomorrow's News-Gazette. Some quality insight in there from Kareem Richardson, who recruited Rice to Drake and now is an assistant at Louisville. He's recruited all levels of players, and "Mid-major, high-major, whatever you want to call it, he (Rice) scores on people," Richardson said. Agreed.
-Jack Ramsey was getting checked out by trainers after he came up limping following a pass-interference call.
-Couple of unusual decisions from Illinois, attempting a 2-point conversion with a 6-0 score and hunting a first down on 4th-and-4 from the 19. The Illini did pick up the first down, however.
-J Leman's wearing a white shirt, red tie, his hair flowing in the breeze.
-Reilly O'Toole couldn't have been much more efficient to start: 9-for-9 for 61 yards and two touchdowns to Ryan Lankford.
-The defensive stud so far: Mason Monheim, the freshman linebacker. He's got three tackles and an interception while filling in for Houston Bates.
-Brilliant weather. Let's have 8 more weeks of this.
Back at halftime.
Charleston Southern at Illinois — 15 minutes before kickoff
Just spoke with Jeni Thomas. The wife of Illinois Athletic director Mike Thomas says the family has finally moved into their new home in Urbana. Jenny says the Thomases had lived temporarily in four different places before settling into their new digs.
No one else has been injured since we last spoke. Stay tuned.
I made the rounds to get some predictions for you from the people who cover the team. Everyone picked Illinois:
Colleen Kane from the Chicago Tribune says 42-7
Fletcher Page from Scout.com says 40-10
Our Paul Klee said 37-3
Jeremy Werner from ConnectFM says 41-7
Mark Tupper of the Decatur Herald and Review says 51-6
David Mercer from The Associated Press says 24-7
Tate predicts the ball will be kicked at 11:01 a.m.
I’m going with the home team 56-7
Klee is going to take over from here. Surely he’ll update you on Kendrick Nunn, who is on campus this weekend.
Charleston Southern at Illinois — 30 minutes before kickoff
Add linebacker Houston Bates to your list of sidelined Illini.
Beckman just got in the middle of the team and did some yelling and such to fire them up. The coach might have to suit up, considering all the injured bodies. The athletic trainers are earning their paychecks.
I was just talking to Tate and we’re both in agreement that aside from the two throws he forced while under pressure last week, Miles Osei looked pretty good at Arizona State. I guess Jay Cutler looked good the other night — except for those four throws he forced that were caught by Packers defenders. But, I’m interested to see how Osei bounces back when he gets in there today.
Pocic is walking around with a big black brace on his left knee. Apparently he rolled up on it in practice this week. The center had started 28 straight games.
The volleyball team just made it 2-0 on the weekend, sweeping Central Florida 25-17, 25-15, 25-12 down in Austin, Texas. They play Cincinnati tonight.
We’ll be back with predictions from the experts in the booth.
Charleston Southern at Illinois — 45 minutes before kickoff.
We’re back. Paul is here. So is Loren. I’m lucky.
Tim Beckman was on the field a little while ago, riling up the couple dozen students who showed up early to their seats. Like Mike Thomas said, he makes caffeine nervous.
The Illini are on the field warming up dressed in their blue pants, blue tops and familiar orange helmets with the new blue facemasks. It’s amazing how much of a difference that little tweaks makes. Still waiting to see the Illini unveil the blue helmets.
Nathan Scheelhaase is on the field, dressed with the rest of the team going through warm-ups. He won’t play unless of an extreme emergency today.
Charleston Southern is here, too. They stayed in Bloomington-Normal last night. Coach Jay Mills played a couple of years at Illinois State and was an assistant on Bloomington central Catholic’s Class 2A state championship team in 1982.
The Buccaneers have lost 15 in a row. Expect that to extend to 16 today, even with all the UI starters sitting this one out.
Steve Hull and Supo Sanni are on the field in their blue jersey with orange shirts. The safeties have had a rough go of it with the injuries in the last couple of years.
Darius Millines, who injured his ankle in the ASU game, is dressed and going through warm-ups.
More pregame reading:
— Five keys to today’s game here.
— Urbana quarterback Cameron Mammen accounted for eight touchdowns and 433 yards of total offense for the Tigers last night — In the first half! Urbana beat Springfield Lanphier 74-26. Mammen is visiting Illinois State today. Read about his epic game here.
We'll be back in a bit.
Charleston Southern at Illinois — 1 hour before kickoff
Good morning. Marcus Jackson joining you from the Memorial Stadium on a beautiful Saturday morning for college football. Paul Klee, the basketball guy, will join us at kickoff.
Made my way to the stadium a couple hours before kickoff and the tailgate situation was in much better shape than it was here two weeks ago. Not great, but there were bodies out enjoying themselves. I’ve been told to expect between 40,000 and 45,000 people here today. That would be a great turnout, considering the opponent and Illinois’ performance last week in the desert.
I’ve never felt as insignificant in my life as I did this morning when riding the elevator up to the press box. I was speaking with former All-American linebacker J Leman and in walked former All-American quarterback Kurt Kittner. Too bad for the Illini those guys can’t suit up today. J is working the game for BTN as the color analyst. Kittner is the analyst for the Illini Sports Network.
Illinois’ current quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase won’t play today. The junior is nursing an ankle injury suffered in the season opener against Western Michigan. This will be the second consecutive game Scheelhaase has missed. Sophomore Reilly O’Toole will once again get the start.
Center Graham Pocic has a knee injury and also won't play today. Neither will Josh Ferguson.
Here’s some pregame reading to get your ready for the game:
— Sports editor Jim Rossow takes a look around the Big Ten here.
— Joliet Catholic product Josh Ferguson, who won't play today because of a concussion suffered in the Arizona State game, talks about his big game last week and his legendary high school program here.
— Here’s a look at the five true freshmen who have suited up for the Illini this season.
— Oh, and the volleyball team pulled a big-time upset at No. 6 Texas last night.
We’ll be back with more in a little bit.