Running on full tank

CHAMPAIGN – Watch the Illinois running backs a few minutes in practice, and you realize there isn't a whole lot of dawdling going on.

Nobody taking breathers. Nobody slurping extra water. Nobody chatting with his buddy, the lineman.

Tate: Potential there; wins must follow

Without addressing the question of the day – how many football games the Illini will win in 1999 – it is evident we'll see several distinct areas of improvement when Ron Turner's third team hosts Arkansas State on Saturday.

Count them:

Badger sounding like a broken record

They don't show a lot of Wisconsin Badger games where he's from, but Herschel Walker knows as much about Ron Dayne as any Big Ten defensive coordinator.

He's had his eye on the guy since the fall of 1996, when the beefy Badger had the nerve to break his 16-year-old NCAA freshman rushing record.

Third year a key one for Turner

In his third year as Illinois football coach, Mike White led the team to its first bowl game in 19 seasons.

In his third year as Illinois football coach, John Mackovic helped his team share the Big Ten title.

In his third year as Illinois football coach, Gary Moeller went 2-8-1 and got fired.

So, Ron Turner, what's it going to be?

Illinois shows gains in alumni match

CHAMPAIGN – She's the one freshman on the Illinois volleyball roster without a scholarship. And under other circumstances, she'd be up in Ann Arbor, Mich., right now preparing to play against the Illini.

News and notes from Friday's practice

TACKLE TIME: Defensive tackle Mike McGee is ready for a big senior season. The Illinois coaches are counting on it.

Eleventh on the team in tackles last season, McGee is part of what he thinks will be an improved line.

Illini have a field day

CHAMPAIGN – A record crowd, a lot of offense and a win against a 1998 NCAA tournament team.

Can't be a better way to christen a new stadium than the way Illinois' women's soccer team and its fans went about it under the lights Friday night.

Tate: Turner puts Illini stock in Kittner

If arm strength is critical for a quarterback, experts agree that poise, foot dexterity and the instinct to make something out of nothing are doubly so.

In settling on Kurt Kittner, Illini coach Ron Turner is banking on the sophomore's ability to develop in the latter areas ... banking on a still-learning soph to survive short-term bumps to become the long-range answer.

UI goalie Bessette still part of the club

CHAMPAIGN – When Amy Bessette sticks her head out of Illinois' goal tonight, she'll see 120 yards of freshly mowed Kentucky bluegrass, several hundred fans in the stands and teammates running around in snazzy new uniforms.

It's a far cry from the Illinois women's soccer scene she experienced when she first arrived on campus.

Former Illini won't be traveling coach

MILWAUKEE – Sorry, fellow alumni, but you'll have to take on the Illinois volleyball varsity this year without Laura Farina.

Understandable if you're not happy about it. After all, the 1989 second-team All-American played no small role last year in the unprecedented upset. With the former Laura Bush contributing six kills and eight digs, the ex-Illini knocked off the current Illini for the first time in the 13 tries.

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