Counting the days

CHAMPAIGN – The helmets and pads have been put away. The fancy sleds and not-so-fancy garbage cans are set aside until August.

Sorry, Ron Turner, but your friends at the NCAA won't help you out this spring. Fifteen practices is all you get. Take it or leave it.

Tate: UI offense not smoke and mirrors

Is this a mirage?

When the real games begin next September, will Illini fans recognize an offensive unit that was near-perfect in blitzing the second-teamers to the tune of 41-6 through the first two 12-minute quarters Saturday?

If you don't believe, why not?

Morton catches on at the corner

   CHAMPAIGN  The celebration dance wasn''t anything spectacular, but it felt good to Christian Morton.

   After learning a new position most of the spring, the Illinois quarterback-turned-cornerback looked like a natural Saturday afternoon when he intercepted a Dustin Ward pass and took it 39 yards for a Blue team touchdown in the first quarter of the Illini''s Orange and Blue spring game at Memorial Stadium.

McGaffigan, Illini tough it out

Jennifer McGaffigan, playing at No. 1 singles, defeated Wisconsin's April Gabler 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to lead the Illini to a 6-1 Big Ten women's victory Saturday against the Badgers in Madison, Wis.

McGaffigan, ranked 98th in the nation among singles players, teamed with No. 2 singles winner Eldina Fazlic to beat Wisconsin's Linde Mues and Vanessa Rauh 8-4 at No. 3 doubles.

Pride of Tuscola has no idea when an NFL team will call his name

Everywhere Robbin McPheron turns, she finds NFL Draft experts.

They tell her what they read on the Internet or found in a magazine. They give predictions and projections.

Tuscola is full of Mel Kiper Jr. wannabes these days, and they're speculating about McPheron's son – one of the town's favorite sons – Fred Wakefield.

Illini ride bumpy road to tennis success

URBANA – Illinois' 10th-ranked men's tennis team ran roughshod over Wisconsin on Saturday at the Atkins Center.

Its top-ranked doubles team ran into an ambush.

On a day when the Illini blanked the Badgers 7-0 to run their record Big Ten winning streak to 52 matches, the one blip came from a startling source.

Patience a virtue for Cox

URBANA – Marla Cox will have to wait on her third-place plaque from the Illini Spring Classic.

Being the proper host, Illinois women's golf coach Paula Smith presented the one on hand Saturday at Stone Creek Golf Club to a Notre Dame duo that also came in third. Smith then promised to order two more.

Illinois first team clicks in all phases

CHAMPAIGN – Over at Iowa on Saturday, the No. 1 offense scored 35 points.

At Michigan, the first string hit 21 points. Same thing at Indiana.

Spring game scores don't really matter. Unless your last game was a blowout loss, one that cost your team a bowl game.

Illini edge 12th-ranked Hawkeyes

URBANA – Some would call it cockiness.

Members of the Illinois women's softball team prefer to look at their attitude as one of confidence.

The 17-member squad – made up entirely of freshmen – believes it can beat anybody.

UI scrimmage statistics

Blue 48, Orange 6