Beckman fills hole in a snap

By BOB ASMUSSEN

CHAMPAIGN — That didn’t take long.

Two days after an unexpected departure on his staff, Tim Beckman filled the position Thursday, hiring A.J. Ricker as his offensive line coach. Ricker started immediately, working Thursday’s afternoon practice.

The former Missouri center joined the Illini after a brief stay at Middle Tennessee State. He spent the 2011-12 seasons on Bill Cubit’s Western Michigan staff. Cubit is Illinois’ new offensive coordinator.

“The first thing is, he’s a good person, and he fits into the family well,” Beckman said. “He’s got the background of being with Coach Cubit, so he can hit the field running. He’s got the terminology. He’s got all that stuff.”

The Texas native is the former head coach at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind. He started his coaching career in 2006 as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan.

Beckman said Ricker was a coach he was interested in before hiring Jim Bridge, who left this week for Purdue.

“It’s really a better situation, to be honest with you,” Beckman said. “Some of the terminology that was used prior to wasn’t the same terminology that Coach Cubit used. Four years of football with Bill Cubit. That makes it simple.”

Ricker was a standout offensive lineman at Missouri, setting a school record with 47 consecutive starts. He was an All-Big 12 pick as a senior and a second-team choice his junior year. Ricker signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears and spent time in NFL Europe and in the Arena Football League.

Ricker’s Texas ties will help Illinois with recruiting, Beckman said.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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JimOATSfan wrote on March 08, 2013 at 5:03 am

I consider this an upgrade over Jim Bridge, only because AJ Ricker has been tied to the offensive line-hip of Bill Cubit for the last 2 years.  This maximizes the potential impact of these two men to transform the offense.

There is always a good chance they encouraged Jim Bridge to move to a place where he has already worked with the coaches there, and made sure he had a job before the reach-out to bring AJ Ricker aboard was finalized.

I'd like to see an analysis done to the number of Illini who went on the play on the o-line in the NFL. We've had some serious long term players along the o-line in the last decade.  Must be at least a dozen guys.

effinghamillini wrote on March 08, 2013 at 6:03 am

Probably a good thing to have coach Cubit's OL coach here.  It's going to give him some comfort.

Speaking of Cubit, how can the Illini run a passing game with Scheelhaase?  I've watched his Western Michigan teams, and they have a vertical passing game.  I really think O'Toole is the guy next year.

Our receivers are not great, but they're adequate.  Make them run good routes and bench them when they drop the ball, and this offense can move the ball.  The O-Line just needs to give O'Toole some time to throw downfield.

Let's be optimistic!

TheChiefLives wrote on March 08, 2013 at 7:03 am

I agree.  Scheelhaase is not only a run-first qb, when he snaps the ball on a passing play, he already knows who he is throwing it to.  He doesn't even look for alternate receivers.

But alas, he is the best option we have.  He was playing hurt a large portion of last year, and I think he proved to be our best option.  As Jeremy Warner said, "A 75% Nathan Scheelhaase was better than O'Toole at 100%."

Reilly seemed like he was scared of his own shadow.  He seems content to be the bridesmaid, and not challenge for the starting job.  I hope that changes between now and Camp Rantucky.  The kid just needs confidence, and if he could challenge Nathan and possibly win the job, I think he'd be excellent in Cubit's offense.

namber wrote on March 08, 2013 at 8:03 am

I am not sure we ever saw ROT's ability.  He is not mobile and behind the worst offensive line in college football.  As far as the line was that a talent problem or a Butkus problem?

tonyjb37 wrote on March 09, 2013 at 11:03 am
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with all of these MAC hires were just another MAC team. we are gonna suck forever! timmy needs to learn from Urban and Nick by far the best two coaches to ever coach college football period. take a page out of their coaching philosophy handbook.

OKOMIS wrote on March 09, 2013 at 2:03 pm

 not for nothing… and certainly not defending Beckman… but you do know where Saban (Toledo) and Meyer (Bowling Green) came from?? Or do you…

jjohnson wrote on March 09, 2013 at 5:03 pm

. . . or Woody Hayes, or Parshegian, or Schembechler? or to switch sports, Groce?

OKOMIS wrote on March 09, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I know…. We could go on for a while… It kills me.. people have EVERY right to be disappointed in Beckman so far.. but what’s the knock coming from the MAC..