August 2013 Archives

Gameday Central | Training Camp Central

Exactly one week from the season-opener against Southern Illinois, the Fighting Illini got a sneak peek at what the logistics of a game day at Memorial Stadium will be like. The players suited up in game uniform and took the field for a mock scrimmage of about 50 plays. After the scrimmage, the Marching Illini band and Illinettes dance team played some of their game day tunes, much to the enjoyment of the team. All the classics were played, such as "Illinois Loyalty," "Oskee Wow Wow," "War Chant," "Seven Nation Army," "William Tell Overture," and much more. Led by running back Donovonn Young, the team even showed off some dance moves for the band. 

Training Camp Central

Interviews: Beckman | O'Toole | Monheim

I have to start off today's Training Camp update with the video that took Illini Nation by storm on Friday morning featuring junior quarterback Reilly O'Toole trying to get the football office excited because it's GAME DAY! The video was the brainchild of football graduate assistant Nubis Padhye and, in addition to O'Toole, also features incredible acting from football GA Patrick Embleton, offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, Coach Beckman and tight ends coach Alex Golesh, assistant director of player personnel Matt Sinclar and Padhye himself. Oscar nominations coming? I have no doubts. 

Here's the video, which had over 25,000 views in its first 3 days (count had to be reset on 8/28): 

Training Camp Day 18 Notes & Links

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practice 8-22-13.JPGPost-Practice Interviews: Beckman | Barr | Cajuste

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.

Training Camp Day 17: Almost Game Week

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Post-Practice Interviews: Beckman | Cubit | Lankford

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.

Training Camp Day 16: Back in Champaign

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Training Camp Central

Tuesday videos: Beckman | Banks | Cubit | Kynard

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.

photo 2_8.19.13.JPGTraining Camp Central

Post-Practice Interviews: Beckman | Brown | Scheelhaase

The Fighting Illini held their final practice at Camp Rantoul on Monday. After nine practices in eight days, the team will return to Champaign on Tuesday where they'll finish training camp and start preparation for the August 31 season-opener against Southern Illinois. 


The Fighting Illini got a much needed, and much deserved day off on Sunday. After a closed scrimmage at Memorial Stadium Saturday night, the Illini returned to Rantoul and enjoyed a relaxing Sunday afternoon at the Hap Parker Family Aquatic Center, which is adjacent to the Camp Rantoul practice fields. Some of the players let loose on the water slides and diving boards, while others watched and lounged in the lagoon area of the pool. 

FreezePops-Pickles.jpgTraining Camp Central | Beckman AM | Beckman PM

The Fighting Illini held their 14th training camp practice Friday morning, the front-end of their third two-a-day this week at Camp Rantoul. As has been the case after the first of each two-a-day session, the players enjoyed freeze pops and pickles, along with the usual Gatorade, while taking their ice baths right after practice. 

Why freeze pops and pickles? According to Illinois director of sports nutrition Chelsea Zenner, it's important for the players to replenish their bodies with carbs and sodium within 30 minutes of the end of practice. Needless to say, they've been a hit with the players.

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Post-Practice Interivews: Coach Beckman | OC Cubit | LB Brown

The Illini held their fourth practice in 40 hours on Thursday morning, after going on Tuesday night, twice on Wednesday and then taking the Camp Rantoul fields at 9 a.m. today. The team wore shorts and shoulder pads and did a lot of situational work - two-minute drill, third downs, red zone, etc. - on a beautiful, mid-70s day in Rantoul. 

"We've had 9 practices in 24 hours," Beckman said after Thursday morning's practice. "That's the grind we've been talking about. They've practiced like pros and have had a great mindset. You have to do what you need to do to get ready for the next one. Now they'll get a little bit of a break since they don't have practice until tomorrow morning." 

IMG_6068.JPGPhoto Gallery | Training Camp Central

The Illini had some guests on hand for Wednesday's two-a-day at Camp Rantoul. The Big Ten Network preseason tour bus rolled in to town for the morning practice, which was in full pads. Then for the evening workout, which was in shorts and shoulder pads, several Rantoul tailgaters the Rantoul Falcons youth football team were on hand. 

Training Camp Day 9 Notes & Links

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Beckman Post-Practice Interview | Training Camp Central

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.

Training Camp Day 8: First Day in Rantoul

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Photo Gallery | Training Camp Central

Interviews: Beckman AM | Beckman PM | OC Cubit | RB Young

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. 

Training Camp Day 7: Media & Fan Appreciation Day

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Illinois had its first day without practice during fall camp on Sunday, but they didn't have a complete day off. Coaches and players took part in media day activities and got to meet and mingle with Illini fans during the annual Fan Appreciation Day festivities.


Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany paid a visit to Saturday morning's practice in Champaign. Delany spoke to the team in the Memorial Stadium squad room, where he was presented with an Illinois helmet and #25 jersey in honor of his 25 years as B1G commissioner, before taking in practice with Big Ten chief communications officer Diane Dietz, Illinois executive senior associate AD Jason Lener and former Illinois AD Ron Guenther, who is now a consultant for the Big Ten. Delany also did a few interviews, including one with Illini Productions, during the sixth stop of his 12-stop conference tour during training camp. Full recaps and photos from each visit can be found on the Big Ten Blog at bigten.org. 


Two big firsts took place on Friday at practice No. 5 of Training Camp. After four days of split-squad workouts, the Illini practiced together as a full unit for the first time this season. They also wore full pads for the first time, which means you could finally hear the sound of pad popping, particularly in the much anticipated "Gauntlet" drill. Needless to say, the coaches and players were fired up about their first opportunity to strap on the pads and do some hitting.  

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The Fighting Illini held their fourth and final split-squad practice Thursday on an unseasonably cool, overcast day on the Memorial Stadium grass fields. Dressed in shorts and shells for the second straight day, the blue team had a quick turnaround with a morning workout right after going Wednesday night, while the orange squad was on the field for Thursday's evening session. 

Coach Beckman was pleased with what the split-squad practices accomplished. "Reps, teaching the young kids as fast as we could, building camaraderie among their group and then seeing them come together tomorrow," Beckman said of the split practices. "It's what we've done and it's been successful."

The Illini take the field as a full team for the first time tomorrow and will also be in full pads for the first time this training camp. Look for video of the always intense "gauntlet" drill sometime tomorrow afternoon. 

Training Camp Day 3 Links & Notes

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Training Camp Central | Buy 2013 Football Tickets

Post-Practice Interviews: 

Coach Beckman | DC Banks | OL Coach Ricker | LB Monheim

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.

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Post-Practice Interviews:
The Fighting Illini had their second of four split-squad sessions on Tuesday, with the "blue" team practicing at 8:30 a.m. and the "orange" squad taking the grass practice fields next to Memorial Stadium at 4:25 pm on a cool, overcast day in Champaign. With a large group of freshmen and newcomers, the Illini coaching staff continued go through the basics and take advantage of the extra reps the split-squad practices provide. The third of four split practices will take place on Wednesday, the last day before the team can wear full pads, with the order flipping so the orange goes in the morning and the blue in the afternoon.

IMG_5792.JPGTraining Camp Central | Photo Gallery

Post-Practice Interviews: 
Coach Beckman | OC Cubit | LB Brown | QB Lunt

The Fighting Illini opened fall training camp on Monday with split-squad practices on the grass practice fields just east of Memorial Stadium. The "orange" team opened things up with a spirited two-hour session at 8:30 a.m., while the "blue" team took the field at 4:25 p.m. and wrapped up at about 6:15. It was perfect weather, with clear skies and temperatures in the 70s for the morning practice and a hint of clouds and a cool breeze for the evening workout. 


Photo Gallery | ESPN.com Chat

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.