UI-Miami: Final Word

UI-Miami: Final Word

CHAMPAIGN — Chuck Long didn’t stick around to see the goal posts at Memorial Stadium get torn down.

The former Iowa quarterback and his teammates hurried to the visiting locker room after Illinois beat the Hawkeyes 33-0 in Champaign during the 1983 season.

“They were a great football team, especially defensively,” said Long, who is back in Champaign-Urbana to call today’s game for the BTN. “That crowd was loud.”

Deafening is how Long described the atmosphere nearly 30 years ago.

“We had a hard time getting our cadences out there and that took our audible game away,” Long said. “We came off an impressive Ohio State victory at home the week before, so we were 3-0 and rolling going into Champaign. We were confident and feeling good. They just stuffed us.”

Long only completed 12 of 27 passes against Illinois during the lopsided defeat. It was the only time Long, who finished second to Bo Jackson in the 1985 Heisman Trophy voting, failed to complete at least half of his passes in a game at Iowa.

“It was such a drubbing, and we got out of there as fast as we could,” Long said. “They were salty on defense, and that really stood out.”

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The 50-year-old Long is living and working in Iowa now. He started a job in July in Cedar Rapids with Holmes Murphy and Associates as a business development associate for the risk management company.

Last fall was Long’s first year with the BTN after a 16-year college coaching career ended when he was fired as Kansas’ offensive coordinator after the 2011 season. He spent three unsuccessful seasons as the head coach at San Diego State (2006-08), which came after he honed a solid reputation for his offensive mind as an assistant at Iowa and Oklahoma.

This is the first Illinois game Long, who will team up with play-by-play announcer Eric Collins on today’s broadcast, will work this season.

Like most others, he’s anticipating an Illinois victory. A victory Illinois needs to have before Big Ten play arrives.

“This is a big game for them,” he said. “Anytime you can go 3-1 instead of 2-2, your bowl chances increase that much more. If you’re 2-2, now you have to split your conference games. That will be tough for Illinois to do. If you get to 3-1, now you can win three out of the eight. That’s obtainable for anybody.”

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Mike Svetina, Jonathan Brown, Jake Feldmeyer and Jon Davis are the Illinois captains for today.

This is the third time Brown was named a captain, which is voted on by the players each Thursday, and second time Davis is a captain.

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Illinois will switch up its uniform look, opting for an all-blue attire against the RedHawks. The Illini have worn orange jerseys, white pants and orange helmets in the first three games.

“The kids decided,” Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. “I talked to them, and they’ve been doing everything we’ve asked them to do. That honor council we have met, and they picked blue and blue.”

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Illinois held its customary walkthrough late Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium before having dinner at the Champaign Country Club and staying at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign. The optional team movie available for viewing on Friday night at the team hotel was “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”

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At the end of its walkthrough, the entire Illinois team met with various members of both the 1953 and 1963 Illinois teams that won Big Ten titles. Members of those teams will be honored during today’s game.

“I think it’s important that our kids get to see two Big Ten champs, one Rose Bowl champ and one that arguably should have been in the Rose Bowl,” Beckman said. “They were great teams.”

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Henry Dickinson (leg) is out for today’s game. And the rest of the season, Beckman said.

Beckman said Friday evening the linebacker — who missed last season with a broken leg and ankle and had yet to play in a game this season — had to undergo surgery again after he re-aggravated the injury.

He is the second Illinois player out for the season after center Tony Durkin hurt his shoulder during training camp.

Defensive tackle Teko Powell (foot) will join Dickinson on the sidelines. They are the only two players Illinois listed on its injury report this week, but Beckman said defensive tackle Vontrell Williams, who has not played this year because of a foot injury, is not expected to play against the RedHawks, either. Which means the depth at defensive tackle is a bit jarring.

““That’s a little bit of the concern,” Beckman said.

Expect Abe Cajuste, who did not play in the Washington game two weeks ago because of an ankle injury, Robbie Bain and Jarrod Clements to rotate in when starters Jake Howe and Austin Teitsma aren’t playing.

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No shocking losses to Ohio. Or Ball State.

Jim Delany and the Big Ten have held court against Jon Steinbrecher and the Mid-American Conference. At least through the first four weeks of the season, sporting a 9-1 record. The only blemish came when Northern Illinois beat Iowa 30-27 on Aug. 31. Today’s games featuring Illinois-Miami (Ohio) and Purdue-Northern Illinois are the last ones featuring the two conferences playing one another this regular season.

“We want to compete,” Steinbrecher said. “We had a little success at Northern Illinois and we’ve struggled at a couple other places this year, but I don’t think any of our athletes or coaches go in there expecting not to compete.”

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Dallas Hinkhouse and Christian DiLauro have not played in a game yet this season for Illinois.

Illinois moved both offensive linemen to the defensive line during the bye week, with Hinkhouse at defensive end and DiLauro at defensive tackle.

But Hinkhouse is back on the offensive line after the experiment last week.

“We wanted to see what they could do during the open week due to a little bit of a lack of depth inside and at defensive end,” Beckman said. “We’ve moved (Hinkhouse) back to offensive tackle. He’s suited to be an offensive tackle.”

DiLauro spent this week at practices working still with the defensive line. It seems he’ll stay there. For now.

“We’ll make a final decision as we progress into the Big Ten,” Beckman said.

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Tim Kynard started the week with a shaggy beard and showing signs of a much-needed haircut.

By the time the Illinois defensive end lines up against Miami (Ohio), his appearance will look more clean-cut — like it was in late July at Big Ten Media Days.

“It’s getting cut,” Kynard said with a laugh. “I didn’t want to change anything because we were winning.”

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It’s not a terribly big recruiting weekend for the Illini. One Class of 2014 commit, center Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East, is expected to attend. Allegretti, who was at the Washington game in Chicago two weeks ago, recently received an invitation to play next January in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He is the first Illinois recruit to get invited to the game since Justin Green played in the 2009 game.

Other key recruiting targets expected to attend include Class of 2014 offensive lineman JB Butler from Joliet Catholic, Class of 2015 quarterback Jack Beneventi from Benet Academy, Class of 2015 wide receiver Miles Boykin from New Lenox Providence Catholic and Class of 2015 athlete Jack Hockaday from Maroa-Forsyth.

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Both coaching staffs at Illinois and Miami will sport a special patch on their sleeves to raise awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy during today’s game. College coaches across the country will wear the patch, with 611 institutions taking part in the event. These are the highest figures for the program since its inception in 2008.

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