Big Ten gives Leman award

PARKRIDGE – Illinois linebacker J Leman, who had 22 tackles in Saturday's loss to Northwestern, today was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

It marks the second time this season the Champaign Central product has won the award.

Former Illini in the NFL

Here's how ex-Illini players and coaches fared in Sunday's games:

Catching up with ...

Each Sunday, contributor Dan Petty will offer five questions to a current NFL player or coach with Illinois ties. This week: Baltimore offensive lineman Tony Pashos.

'Blunder' seals another Illini loss

EVANSTON – One play summed it all up. For the game. And for the season.

Midway through the fourth quarter down 24-16, Illinois forced a Northwestern punt. E.B. Halsey dropped back to catch Slade Larscheid's boot.

Leman, Illini lament another loss

EVANSTON – Another big day of tackling people didn't make Illinois linebacker J Leman feel any better about a loss, Illinois' seventh in a row.

"People have gotten on me recently, said that maybe I'd been a little too short with them around the office," Leman said. "It's because I'm trying to win a game in the fourth quarter. It gets on your nerves when you can't win a game in the fourth quarter."

Upon further review

Pat Fitzgerald has got a clue. And an aggressive mentality. His onside kick to start the second half was brilliant, setting up the Wildcats for a 10-0 second half. The win will be a good building block for Fitzgerald's program. The question is whether he can recruit the quality of players he needs to take the next step.

– Illinois needs major reconstruction of its special teams. The punting was an issue all season, and the returns weren't at a Big Ten winning level. Special teams guru Ron Zook will burn the midnight oil coming up with a plan, and changes in personnel, during the spring and summer.

Tate: No passing grade here

EVANSTON – Ron Zook has all kinds of receivers with experience.

There is Mattoon's Kyle Hudson, who shows 61 catches in two seasons. There are DaJuan Warren and Jody Ellis, frequent starters converted from other positions. There is Derrick McPhearson, who arrived in 2005 with glowing credentials. There is early-season standout Jacob Willis. There is Frank Lenti Jr., son of the Chicago Mount Carmel coach.

A weekly chat with Bob Asmussen

Today's guest: running back Pierre Thomas.

On Bo

We asked Bob Asmussen, who covers college football for The News-Gazette, for his thoughts on Bo Schembechler:

Asmussen: It's time to give out<br>hardware

You already know who is going to win the big award. Barring a six-interception ugfest in a 70-0 loss today against Michigan, Troy Smith is going to take home the Heisman Trophy.

Might as well not even bring anybody else to New York for the ceremony. It will be just like the Oscars when Tom Hanks is nominated. The other four are window dressing. It's a slam dunk (except for that blechy "Cast Away").