Not many people are riding around on a golf cart at Camp Rantoul.
But Dave Beckman is the father of the Illinois coach, so his son probably doesn’t mind.
“It’s a time of year that I just really enjoy,” the elder Beckman said Friday evening as a guest on WDWS’ SportsTalk with Steve Kelly and Loren Tate. “I sat on a golf cart with my first grandson and watched my son coach a Big Ten team. I thank God every night that’s the way it’s going.”
Dave Beckman said he was proud of how his son handled an adverse first season at Illinois.
“He stood up and said how he felt,” Dave Beckman said. “People didn’t always agree, but they never do. We’d all like to win this year and win next year. Winning is what we’re all about, but it does take time to get your type of player.”
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Illinois will still stay at the Quarters Inn this weekend but won’t practice in Rantoul.
A scrimmage tonight at Memorial Stadium is on the docket, but it is closed to the public and media. Beckman has given Illinois an off day Sunday before the team wraps up its stay in Rantoul with a practice starting at 10:45 a.m. Monday.
“We’re going to treat it as close to a night football game,” Beckman said of tonight’s scrimmage slated to start at 7. “We’re going to have pregame meals and those types of things as if we were all traveling to a night football game.”
Illinois will treat the scrimmage like a real game, all the way down to going into the locker rooms at halftime. Beckman said the plan is for both the starters and backups to get in between 50 and 60 plays.
“We’ve taken our scrimmages this year and utilized them as game time,” Beckman said.
Coming out of halftime stronger is a point of emphasis for Beckman’s second Illini team. Hence the halftime part of tonight’s scrimmage.
“It’s something that’s got to be adapted and changed,” Beckman said. “It has not been successful here. We need to make sure we do better.”
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Nathan Scheelhaase (right ankle) was back taking his full allotment of reps with the quarterbacks Friday morning.
“Really, it was probably precautionary to keep him off (Thursday),” Beckman said. “But you know Nathan. You’ve got to kind of watch Nathan to make sure he isn’t overdoing it anytime. It was good to see him out there (Friday).”
Linebacker Jonathan Brown (concussion) had more reps in the morning practice and shed the green jersey of limited contact during the afternoon session.
“He got some more reps, but again it’s all the protocol of when you have a concussion,” Beckman said. “We’re going to make sure we follow that protocol.”
Beckman said he’d like Brown to take part in around 30 plays during tonight’s scrimmage.
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Michael Heitz is the utilityman of the offensive line if A.J. Ricker’s unit has to have one. The starting left guard has taken reps this month at center and right tackle.
“Just wherever they need me,” Heitz said. “It doesn’t really bother me. As long as I’m out there playing, that feels good to me.”
He has made 11 starts at left guard, nine starts at right tackle and none at center in his Illinois career. Center is his shakiest spot if he has to fill in for Alex Hill.
“Considering last week was my first time snapping, not too comfortable there,” Heitz said with a laugh. “Coach Ricker said to me the first day I was doing it, ‘Hey, just get the snap. I don’t care if you block somebody.’ We’re going from there.”