Tate: Illini run fade route

Tate: Illini run fade route

MADISON, Wis. — It dawned, in the land of the Badger, as a cool, overcast day ... perfect for an upset.
Sometimes they come in bunches.
Hopes grew as Indiana outplayed Michigan State and led 27-17, while the Northwestern Wildcats had Penn State reeling 28-17, both games in the fourth quarter.
But these contests are 60 minutes long. Favored Michigan State and Penn State teams prevailed with strong finishes. And so did Wisconsin later on, grabbing its first lead against Illinois, 10-7, on Kyle French’s career-long 46-yard field goal with 5:53 left in the third quarter.
When the fourth quarter rolled around, and the crazy Badger fans started jumping up and down, it was all downhill. The Illini weren’t up to the task, falling 31-14 in a lopsided finish.
Like you folks at home, all of us in Camp Randall Stadium could feel it coming. Illinoisans might point to a scary moment late in the third period, when the players kneeled while UI cornerback Terry Hawthorne lay motionless after a fierce sideline tackle on 227-pound Badger fullback Derek Watt. Hawthorne gave thumbs up before being removed in an ambulance and, after tests, was able to join the team on the flight home.
But the loss of Hawthorne wasn’t the problem. It almost seemed as though the Illini, now losers of eight consecutive Big Ten games, were looking for a reason to crumble.
“I’m proud of the first half,” coach Tim Beckman said, “but when something (adversity) occurs, we have to react in a positive way. If we shank a punt, we have to respond. We can’t let it snowball.”

Downward spiral
And that’s what happened. Suddenly, the Illini were on roller skates taking themselves backward.
Illini special teams disintegrated, first with a flubbed 10-yard punt by Justin DuVernois before the quarter turn and later in permitting a 26-yard punt return by brilliant receiver Jared Abbrederis.
That’s more punt return yards on one fourth-quarter play than the Illini have in six games. The Illini treat returns on booted balls as though they’re illegal, starting last week’s game with a muffed punt that got Penn State rolling.
Defensively, linebacker Jonathan Brown was back in form (nine tackles) and end Michael Buchanan knocked down consecutive Joel Stave passes in the second quarter. But in that devastating fourth quarter, the Illini sent up a white flag in allowing Wisconsin to go 59 yards twice, first on six plays and then on two. What appeared to be a revived UI defense simply evaporated, the Badgers rattling off 177 yards in their final four possessions.
Nathan Scheelhaase, who directed the ever-scrambling UI attack with extemporaneous moves throughout — plays didn’t always come off as called — produced 80 of his 178 aerial yards to post the UI’s second TD. But the game was beyond redemption, and Badger fans started celebrating their 20th consecutive home triumph early.

Stuck in neutral
In the postgame news conference, running back Donovonn Young pointed his finger at statistics showing him with a 1.2 average on four carries and Josh Ferguson a 1.6 average on seven carries. Neither could get started, and it was useless to try.
“We aren’t getting much movement up front,” Young understated. “We just have to depend on each other and keep our spirits up. We can’t hold onto the negatives. We wanted to prove something today, but we didn’t finish it.”
Oh, by the way, the defense gets much of the credit for the UI’s second-quarter TD. Steve Hull intercepted Stave’s errant pass and returned it 17 yards to the Badger 28. Scheelhaase, launching one of his few downfield passes, hit Ferguson for 23 and then scored on a 5-yard run.
Then the defense gave it back when Wisconsin called a screen pass on an Illini blitz, the perfect call that released James White down the sideline for a tying 62-yard scamper.
Illinois’ final TD came after the score had reached 24-7. Referring to the scrambling nature of Scheelhaase’s play, Beckman said:
“Nathan is getting a lot of pressure. He is trying to make the most of those situations. He doesn’t always have time to go to the next key, and he just tucks and goes.”
Except for two misdirection keepers that fooled the Badgers for 29 and 24 yards, Illinois had no ground game whatsoever. On the other 30 rushes, Illinois netted 53 yards. Illinois is simply being outmuscled up front by the likes of Penn State and Wisconsin, and it faces a similar test next Saturday at Michigan.

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports


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peterborich wrote on October 07, 2012 at 11:10 am

If I had to coach the remnants of Ron Zook's program, I would be chewing tobacco, smoking and pounding six-packs on the sidelines.  Please give Coach Beckman the chance to build this program....

illiniearl wrote on October 07, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I agree!

OKOMIS wrote on October 07, 2012 at 1:10 pm

It’s debatable if Beckman was the right guy to pick..( I personally hope and think he will succeed) but I can see the argument.. there is NO sane or rational argument that Zook should have been retained.. there really isn’t a rational reason he wasn’t dismissed 2 years earlier.. 

And the tobacco?? I’m sure he regrets it and knows it was stupid.. but people are grasping for things to throw at him

DaisyJ wrote on October 07, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Grasping, on the tobacco, no, he should have been ejected upon discovery. What was he thinking.

He should be suspended by the U of I for the next game. This is not just another person chewing.

It is an NCAA violation.


crackerman wrote on October 07, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I too agree..

allendan wrote on October 07, 2012 at 6:10 pm

The chewing tobacco offense is the least of our concerns. If we suspend Beckman for that, we'll be even more of a laughingstock in the B1G Ten than we already are. I am still wholly unconvinced Beckman is the answer for the program, but I am convinced that the chewing tobacco issue is a smoke screen.

On the positive side, I was at Camp Randall for the game and I thought the Illini played the best they have played all season for the first 2 1/2 quarters, especially considering the competition and the road environment. But, they just crumbled under the burden of a defense trying to carry an offense that can't move the ball consistently.  The defense seemed to finally be gaining some confidence in the scheme but was clearly worn down in the 4th quarter.

Another road game at the Big House next week will likely be another loss--not sure I see another victory on the horizon at this point--but I did feel like Wisconsin was the most we actually competed this season--Charleston Southern excepted, of course because they were just flat out awful!


DaisyJ wrote on October 07, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Actually, the U of I should sit him one game. It is a discovered violation that is serious. Do you realize  if a player is discovered he is EJECTED. And I think the coach also goes. You do not understand the college rules. This was more than just stupid.

DaisyJ wrote on October 07, 2012 at 8:10 pm

From NCAA rules...Rule 1 , Article 14,,, automatic DISQUALIFICATION for tobacco use. For the coach to have done this is not just an uh-oh... This is serious and Thomas needs to sit him this week. PERIOD...

OrlandoIllini wrote on October 07, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I saw the game on DVR after returning from the Gator/LSU game.

The one I attended reminded me of the game days during Mike White's years... overflow attendance, deafing endless cheering, exciting play from top athletes who were well coached.

The one I saw on the DVR wasn't like that at all, and wouldn't have been even if I had been a Badger fan watching it... though the Badgers were certainly better coached than the Illini.

My most recent experience in the Swamp really reinforced how woeful Illini football has become in a lackluster Big Ten conference.

Look at the players the Illini have, then subtract those leaving after this season and add the class of 2013. Is there any reason to expect better results in 2013? 2014? 2015?

If there there is a re-birth under this or any coach, it will probably be 5 years or more in the future. And frankly, it does not appear probable at all... unless the UofI spends big bucks to get a big-time staff who can recruit and coach. We haven't had that since Mackovic, and he took the first plane out of town after realizing the school's lack of commitment to field a top-notch program. 

Fortunately one of our daughters and her husband are Gator grads. It allows me to cheer for a winning version of the Orange and Blue.

Illini basketball, I think, will be much improved from 2011, 2010, 2009. et cetera.

peterborich wrote on October 08, 2012 at 7:10 am

For All You Zook Supporters/Beckman Haters . . .  ..



Some unrealistic and shortsighted Illinois football fans are calling for first-year coach Tim Beckman's ouster, arguing that he isn't equipped to build a competitive team in the Big Ten.

But longtime recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network cautions Illini fans to be patient, that it will take at least two or three years to recruit the caliber of talent necessary to produce a winning program.

"Beckman and his staff are doing all they can," Lemming said. "But they are paying the price for the last two years of Ron Zook's bad recruiting. Remember, Illinois ranked 12th in the Big Ten two years ago and 11th last year. It will take a while. Fans have to be patient.

"The staff is hard working, aggressive and personable. But there is a lack of talent on the roster. Illinois needs athletes. They need playmakers and difference-makers on both sides of the ball. On defense, they have no speed to the ball."

Lemming said Illinois desperately needs more Aaron Baileys. Bailey, who quarterbacked Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship last year, is committed to Illinois. He is a dual threat quarterback with the speed and athleticism that Illinois lacks in its option offense this season.

"They need a Laquon Treadwell, who could be a difference-maker at wide receiver," said Lemming, referring to the uncommitted Crete-Monee star who ranks among the top two or three prospects at his position in the country."

Lemming said Peoria Richwoods running back Kendrick Foster, who is committed to Illinois, could be the biggest surprise in the incoming recruiting class. But Illinois needs help at tight end and is looking for depth in the offensive line and playmakers everywhere on defense.

But will Beckman and his staff be given enough time to do what has to be done? Some crazed members of Illini Nation are calling for Beckman to be fired after this season, insisting that athletic director Mike Thomas made a big mistake in picking Beckman as his first major hire.

"He (Thomas) has no choice," Lemming said. "They have to give him (Beckman) four years if they want a winner. If they get rid of him after two or three years, who would want to take the job? He could turn the program around in four years."

In the meantime, Beckman and his staff continue to recruit Illinois and Ohio and the St. Louis area in an aggressive manner.

Illinois has offered some of the leading underclass prospects in the Midwest, including cornerback Parrker Westphal of Bolingbrook, tight end Nic Weishar of Marist, 6-foot-4, 215-pound tight end Daniel Helm of Chatham Glenwood, 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive tackle Kyle Trout of Lancaster, Ohio, 5-foot-10, 207-pound, 6-foot-6, 225-pound tight end Ethan Wolf of Minster, Ohio, and running back Markel Smith of Vianney High School in
Kirkwood, Missouri.

They were among 25 of the top prospects in Illinois, Ohio and the St. Louis area who met with Lemming prior to the Illinois/Penn State game in Champaign.

Two sophomores to watch are 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back Dre Brown of De Kalb and 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back Dyrrah Christion of Kankakee. Brown is averaging more than nine yards per carry for a 1-6 team.

Two other Chicago area products who are impressing college recruiters are 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior tackle Logan Plantz of Providence, whose father played at Gordon Tech and Notre Dame, and 6-foot-9, 295-pound junior tackle Denzel Ward of Hales Franciscan.

Again, Lemming cautioned, the key word in Ward's recruiting is patience. He once aspired to be a basketball player, then changed his mind. This is his first year of football. He is a cousin to football stars Jordan Diamond, Robert Gregory and Jeff Allen is related to basketball star Jabari Parker. His mother played basketball at Auburn.

"He has unlimited potential," Lemming said. "He could weigh 330 pounds and look thin. He is a good athlete but he is raw."

Ward was ruled eligible after transferring from Julian. His football resume amounts to four games. Hales Franciscan coach Randall Townsel said Michigan is probably the only school that has evaluated his film. Ward was offered a scholarship by Purdue after attending a camp. Illinois also has expressed interest.

"Michigan has been to our school and watched film," Townsel said. "They are very impressed. They have invited Denzel to attend a football game at Michigan."

Three other players of note are 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior defensive end Jonathan Bonner of Parkway Central High School in St. Louis, 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior wide receiver/defensive back Ray Wingo of St. Louis University High in St. Louis and 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior linebacker Gelen Robinson of Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana.

Robinson is the son of former Purdue and NBA star Glenn Robinson. His brother plays basketball at Michigan. Bonner's father played at Kansas and his uncle played at Notre Dame. His cousin, former Proviso East star Sergio Brown, played at Notre Dame and currently plays for the Indianapolis Colts. Wingo has an offer from Arkansas.

Tags: Big Ten, Illini, University of Illinois, Tom Lemming, Tim Beckman

tonyjb37 wrote on October 08, 2012 at 9:10 am
Profile Picture

Suspend Beckman NOW!!! Stressed or not there is no excuse for NCAA violations. The terrible laughable play of whatever this is on the field every week is the coaches fault, plain and simple. Lots of teams have brand new coaching staffs and they are winning football games and not just winning but dominating their opponents.  Coaches are the most vital, most important part of any sports team. A great coach is someone that comes in and wins with what he has right away. And teams with great coaching get better week after week. The culture of the UI football program needs to change from sissified to manly, tough, mean, violent, relentless, fast. We have never had a man to coach this football team.

zyoungbl wrote on October 08, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Beckman is overmatched in every facet of the game.  It's his job to prepare a competitive gameplan and he doesn't seem to have one any given week.  I'm tired of hearing how we're injured or outmuscled.  Great programs don't make excuses.  They make plays.  We are far from being great but there is no reason we can't be good year in and year out.  The team has ZERO heart and I highly doubt they believe in Beckman's system.  When you go for a mid-major coach you get mid-major results.  This is an embarrassment to the University and it's fans.  I feel sorry for the players who have to run out there and play under this system and for the media who must try to spin a positive story on such a hot piece of garbage like this.  I have ZERO faith in this team and the staff and I'm tired of waiting for things to turn around.  We are the University of Illinois.  We deserve better. 

OKOMIS wrote on October 08, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Well if your tired after 6 games with tobacco Tim you must have been in a comma after 6 years with the guy Florida spit out.... so either get over it, lay down take a nap or drink some 5 hour energy… Beckman will get at least 3 years…..

jimbo2009 wrote on October 08, 2012 at 3:10 pm

So our star recruit QB is really just another RB playing the QB position?  That hasn't worked here in 10 years!  Go back to the 80s and 90s and recruit a QB that can throw the ball down the field and win games!

billbtri5 wrote on October 08, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Illini played well and with passion for the first half but the only offense was the qback..others need to step up and start playing...coaches need to have backs curl out and be there as secondary targets to counter the pass rush that they know is the problem..Wisconsin looked beatable...