LIVE! Illini-La. Tech
CHAMPAIGN - If Arizona State's 45-14 win against Illinois was embarrassing, what was this?
Worrisome, for one.
Louisiana Tech shamed Illinois in a 52-24 win tonight. Memorial Stadium has seen its share of poor performances. This one is right up there.
Illinois (2-2) committed six turnovers and appeared lost, particularly on defense. Louisiana Tech (3-0) quarterback Colby Cameron threw for 284 yards and four touchdowns before sitting out much of the fourth quarter. The 52 points were the most scored by an Illini opponent at Memorial Stadium since the final game of the 2009 season (Fresno State 53, Illinois 52). The WAC visitor was a mismatch for the Big Ten host.
Not only that, but the Illini have a full-fledged quarterback controversy. Nathan Scheelhaase was intercepted and fumbled before he gave way to Reilly O'Toole in the second quarter. Miles Osei also played. O'Toole was 19-for-25 for 120 yards. Returning from an ankle injury, Scheelhaase started well - 6-for-6 at one point - and finished 8-for-11 for 85 yards.
Illinois opens the Big Ten season next Saturday against Penn State. Given the early results around the Big Ten, perhaps it will get easier from here. But the early results in the Tim Beckman era are cause for concern.
HQ Live Report - Louisiana Tech 45, Illinois 17 - End of third quarter
Third-quarter star: Clock operator. If he makes this a running clock.
Third-quarter goat: Illini coaching staff. Twice in the past three games, the opponent has appeared to be the better-prepared team. Louisiana Tech has been the aggressor, in both its performance and its play-calling. Tonight is even more embarrassing than the nationally televised blowout at Arizona State. Once could be a fluke. Twice and it's a pattern.
What we're thinking: Illinois football fans should be worried. While Tim Beckman often has lamented a lack of depth on the roster, the starters on defense might be as talented as he will have at Illinois. And his defense is getting run off its own field.
By the numbers
4:27 - Remained when Louisiana Tech recovered a touchdown in the end zone - and when Illini fans began heading to the exits
0 - Turnovers for Louisiana Tech in the second half
1 - Turnover for Illinois in the second half, when a bouncing punt glanced off the leg of Justin Green
10,000 - Estimated number of fans still remaining in Memorial Stadium
156 - Yards receiving by Quinton Patton, the first-quarter star that is the entire game's star
11/6/10 - Date of the last game when an opponent scored more than 40 points against Illinois (Michigan 67, Illinois 65 3OT)
Back at the horn.
HQ Live Report - Louisiana Tech 21, Illinois 17 - Halftime
Second-quarter star: Donovonn Young. From the first possession, when he trucked a Louisiana Tech defender in the open field, to his 1-yard touchdown run, the native Texan is running like his touches depend on it. The sophomore has a team-high 10 rushes for 41 yards and a TD.
Second-quarter goat: Louisiana Tech special teams. The Bulldogs had built a comfy 21-7 lead and held all of the momentum before muffing a punt inside its own 20-yard line. Illinois recovered the fumble, which led to a field goal.
What we're thinking: Someone dipped the football in a bucket of butter. Five turnovers were the story - two by Louisiana Tech, three by Illinois. In three-plus games, the Illini have created nine turnovers while losing eight. We will learn (or ask, at least) after the game if the quarterback shuffling was a result of Nathan Scheelhaase's two turnovers in the first half.
By the numbers
3 - Quarterbacks used by Tim Beckman, fueling the notion there is a quarterback controversy at Illinois
3 - Superheroes on the field during the Marching Illini's halftime performance (Batman, Superman and Spiderman)
3 - Tackles by promising freshman Mason Monheim, including a shoestring takedown that forced a punt
32-for-38 - Reilly O'Toole's passing numbers over the past six quarters
10-0 - Lead for Notre Dame against Michigan in the third quarter
1 - Loren Tate rooting for Michigan, a rare event
Back for the fourth.
HQ Live Report - Louisiana Tech 21, Illinois 7 - End of first quarter
First-quarter star: Quinton Patton. Whether it was racing through the secondary with a 40-yard reception or snagging a bullet from Colby Cameron on the sideline, the Biletnikoff candidate put on a wide-receiving clinic.
First-quarter goat: Illinois secondary. While the Illini defense was solid on the previous series, forcing a fumble, the Bulldogs' two touchdowns came too easy. The first one took only 2:32 and ended with a 27-yard touchdown pass over the top. The next series included another 27-yard completion over the defense. Louisiana Tech's no-huddle offense and varied play calls had the Illini on their heels.
What we're thinking: Wasn't that a helmet-to-helmet collision that jarred the ball from Josh Ferguson's grip? Maybe we got a bad look at the replay. Either way, the fumble stopped a promising drive from the Illini, who were nearing the Louisiana Tech 20-yard line. It also marked the first time Illinois has lost a fumble this season - and only the second fumble in three-plus games.
By the numbers
4 - Touchdown receptions this season by Ryan Lankford, including a twisting, turning 18-yard catch from Nathan Scheelhaase tonight
100 - Percent was the completion percentage by Scheelhaase on the first two drives (6-for-6)
6-for-7 - Scheelhaase's passing numbers after an interception by Louisiana Tech's Solomon Randle
57 - Degrees at kickoff, with a northwest breeze of 7 mph
1 - Top-25 basketball recruit in Memorial Stadium; Xavier Rathan-Mayes arrived here about 10 minutes prior to kickoff; Rathan-Mayes is rested, too, having caught a nap back at his family's hotel this afternoon
10 - At least, Bulldogs on the sideline waving their arms between plays to emphasize the hurry-up, no-huddle offense
2 - Games Illinois has trailed after the first quarter (Arizona State)
10 - Yards onto the field, where Tim Beckman stood while challenging a call that gave Louisiana Tech its third touchdown
1 - Notebook in front of Loren Tate; the detail with which our legend chronicles every game is remarkable
Back at halftime.
Louisiana Tech at Illinois — Kickoff
The Illini captains for today: Ryan Lankford, Hugh Thornton, Terry Hawthorne and Tommy Davis.
LA Tech won the coin toss and elected to defer. Illinois will receiver heading north.
Here are some predictions from the folks in the press box who cover the team:
Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune picks Illinois 38-35
Herb Gould from the Chicago Sun-Times picked LA Tech 42-38
Jeremy Werner from ConnectFM picked Illinois 28-27
David Mercer of the Associated Press says LA Tech 31-28
Paul Klee picked LA Tech 31-21
Temperatures are expected to dip into the low to mid 40s tonight. That’s really cold for the handful of folks who made the trip from Louisiana.
Klee will take over from here, offering updates at the end of each quarter. Tight deadline tonight.
Louisiana Tech at Illinois — 15 minutes before kickoff
Just spoke with former All-American linebacker J Leman. Man, does that guy have some energy. J loves Jonathan Brown. He also love the potential of freshman Mason Monheim.
J, the Champaign Central product, deemed Illinois the real Linebacker U, with respect to Penn State, because of Nitschke, Butkus, Howard, Hardy, Holocek and said that even though he was listed as a defensive end, Simeon Rice was really an outside linebacker. J didn’t mention himself, but he’s certainly in that same company.
I forgot to mention earlier that Josh Ferguson is good to go tonight after missing last week with a concussion.
Gene Honda just announced Nathan Scheelhaase as the starting quarterback, so that mystery is gone.
Just visited with Illinois AD Mike Thomas in the press box. He stopped by News-Gazette row. He and Klee were going on and on about that new quarterback of their beloved Denver Broncos.
The Marching Illini are ready. While the band performs, take a look at some things to watch for tonight’s game here.
Louisiana Tech at Illinois — 45 minutes before kickoff.
So, Klee says he “beat” me in basketball. Here’s what really happened. It was at Jim Rossow’s house, Memorial Day weekend about five years ago. I had been there a few hours and may or may not have consumed a 12 pack by the time Klee showed up. We were playing a H-O-R-S-E tournament and stone-sober Paul Klee made a few shots and he quick-shot me and won.
Now, he talks about how good he was at Denver Christian and all that jazz. And he actually was a really good point guard — pass first. How do I know? Because he has old newspaper articles in his top desk drawer as proof. I don’t doubt that he was good, but I’ve got 5 inches and about 50 pounds on Klee. I could handle him. I’ve never actually seen him play before. A few times I’ve invited him to play in intramural and pickup games, but he’s declined. Rossow plays. Klee doesn’t.
He does kick my butt on the golf course, though.
Sorry, I had to get that out.
Back to football. The Illini are on the field going through warm-ups. Scheelhaase is out there and looks ready to go. Darius Millines is out for tonight’s game. So is Evan Wilson. Graham Pocic is a gametime decision. I don’t expect him to start. Houston Bates is dressed.
Supo Sanni is in uniform for the first time this season. I’ll keep an eye out to see who else may or may not be playing.
Illinois is wearing the blue tops with blue pants and orange helmets. Tim Beckman is superstitious. They won’t change until they lose.
Louisiana Tech at Illinois — 60 minutes before kickoff
Good evening, folks, Marcus Jackson herefrom Sunny Memorial Stadium.
Big-time tailgate going on outside here tonight. I have a feeling the fans have been looking forward to the late kick so they can enkoy themselves. I’d be interested to see how many actually make their way inside the stadium.
Walked past the Assembly Hall and I saw John Groce playing bags and tossing the football around with Xavier Rathan-Mayes and the rest of the Illini. Those guys know how to entertain.
About the football game, there is still one tonight, despite all the excitement of the highly touted guard visiting the Illini basketball program this weekend.
This should be a fun one. Not really sure what to expect. Louisiana Tech has scored a boatload of points this season but Houston and Rice aren’t exactly world beaters. LA Tech doesn’t stop anyone from scoring either.
As for the Illini, they get quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase back tonight. Keep an eye on how the junior is moving around on that tender left ankle that kept hin out of the last two games.
Paul Klee is here, too. If anything happens with Rathan-Mayes, he’ll be all over it. I’ll also address that story he told during his chat the other day about “beating” me in basketball.
While we await kickoff, take a look at my chat with the very personable Ryan Lankford. He’s got a famous God father.
We'll be back in a few minutes.