Scheelhaase isn't only injured Illini who's improving
CHAMPAIGN — It was tough for Nathan Scheelhaase to sit and watch his team get handled in Week 2 at Arizona State. Illinois' injured quarterback had an easier go of it Saturday while watching his team take care of business against Charleston Southern.
"We win 44-0, that's what matters," Scheelhaase said Tuesday. "Obviously, I want to help any way I can. Last week and the week before I wasn't on the field, so I helped out in different ways. You deal with it. Injuries are a part of the game, and you just do what you can to get back."
Scheelhaase continues to rehab the left ankle he injured in the season opener against Western Michigan and said he's further along this week than he was a week ago. He's confident he can return for Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech.
"That's what I plan to do. This is as good a team as we've seen, watching them on tape. They're a good team, so I definitely want to be back out there helping out," he said. "Obviously, I want to be as healthy as possible, but (I've) been focusing on La. Tech. We've got a good team ahead of us, and that needs to be the main focus."
In Scheelhaase's absence Saturday, backup Reilly O'Toole enjoyed a record-breaking day, setting the program record for completion percentage (83.9 percent). O'Toole hit on 26 of 31 passes for 333 yards and five touchdowns.
"I think everybody was kind of worried; they didn't know where his head was at," Scheelhaase said of O'Toole. "Like I told you guys last week, he's a confident guy that knows he can play ball and to see him go out there and break records was awesome. He executed better than any quarterback has in the history of the University of Illinois, so it was a pretty cool thing to see."
After the game, Illinois coach Tim Beckman shot down any notion of a quarterback controversy, saying Scheelhaase would be the starter when he was healthy enough to play.
Scheelhaase expects that to be Saturday and said he won't have any apprehension when he returns to the field.
"People get injured every week in college football. They're going to try to target the quarterback regardless," Scheelhaase said. "You've got to go out there being a team, a great team, and that's what we're trying to do. We're not worried about whether they're trying to target an ankle, we're trying to win."
Injury update. Center Graham Pocic (knee) and linebacker Houston Bates (leg), who missed the Charleston Southern game, wore purple jerseys reserved for injured players at Tuesday's practice. Receiver Darius Millines and kicker Nick Immekus, who both left Saturday's game with injuries, were also in purple.
Safety Supo Sanni, who has not played at all this season while recovering from a knee injury, was in a green jersey, reserved for players who have limited participation in practice. Sanni had been wearing purple all season.
Running back Josh Ferguson, who missed the previous game with a concussion, participated fully in Tuesday's workout.