August 2013 Archives
Thursday was move-in day for thousands of University of Illinois students, but the Illini football team continued to prepare for its season-opener against Southern Illinois. With only nine days until kickoff, Illinois has fully moved into game-week style practices, fine-tuning its game plan for the Salukis.
Illinois moved to the grass practice fields on the east side of Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, as temperatures rose to the mid-80s. The team continued to install and fine-tune the Southern Illinois game plan in a workout that lasted nearly two hours.
After eight days in Rantoul, the Illini returned to Champaign Tuesday for the remainder of training camp. They conducted a final set of special teams and position meetings at Camp Rantoul before busing back to campus and treating the day's practice as an 11 a.m. game.
Following Monday's double practice, which included a scrimmage, Illinois had a single afternoon session on Tuesday. The team once again worked on special teams for a good portion of the early segment of practice before splitting up into individual position drills. Then they came back together for the team period.
After moving to Camp Rantoul late Sunday, the Illini hit the practice fields off U.S. Route 45 at 9 a.m. Monday. Illinois worked extensively on special teams fundamentals for the first portion of practice, then moved into individual drills, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and team sections.
The Fighting Illini passed the halfway point of the four split practices on a warmer, humid Wednesday. After two days of wearing only helmets, the team strapped on shoulder pads for the first time on Wednesday. The Orange team had the quick turnaround after practicing on Tuesday evening, while Blue waited until Wednesday afternoon. Thursday will be the last day of the split practices and the team will go in full pads for the first time on Friday morning.
Fighting Illini football coach Tim Beckman made the rounds at ESPN Headquarters on Thursday, doing nine interviews in three hours as part of the Big Ten "car wash" in Bristol, Conn, over the last two days.
The day started off with a hitch, as dense fog at Champaign's Willard Airport pushed our flight to Hartford back an hour. After landing and making the short trip from Hartford to Bristol, Coach Beckman, his wife Kim and daughter Lindsay, arrived at ESPN at 11:45, about 45 minutes after the scheduled start of the "car wash" schedule. That meant we had some catching up to do.