Coach Zook
Game 12: Illinois (3-8, 2-6) vs. Fresno State (7-4, 6-2)
DL Doug Pilcher has been a four-year starter for the Fighting Illini.  He and his classmates will participate in Senior Day ceremonies prior to Saturday's season finale with Fresno State.

DL Doug Pilcher has been a four-year starter for the Fighting Illini. He and his classmates will participate in Senior Day ceremonies prior to Saturday's season finale with Fresno State.

Nov. 30, 2009


Complete release in PDF format


FOR OPENERS

  • This Saturday's game against Fresno State marks the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
  • On the first offensive drive of the game, senior quarterback Juice Williams became the first Illini player and only the sixth in Big Ten history to surpass 10,000 yards of total offense. Williams had 349 total yards (season-high 282 passing and 67 rushing) in the game and now has 10,327 yards in his career.
  • Tight end/receiver Jeff Cumberland is nearing the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yardage as the senior has 983 career yards heading into his final college game.
  • Williams had his best game of the season, completing 21-of-34 passes (61.7 percent) for 282 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, plus he ran for 67 yards and another touchdown on the ground. With his 349 total yards today, Williams moved up to fifth on the Big Ten's career total yardage list, passing Iowa's Chuck long (10,254).
  • Illinois outgained the Cincinnati offense 476-420, marking just the second time this season the Bearcats were outgained (Fresno State on 9/26). UC entered the game with the third-best offense in the nation in terms of total yards (478 ypg).
  • Illinois' 2009 schedule is ranked by the NCAA as the 22nd-toughest in the nation and second most difficult in the Big Ten. Three of Illinois' opponents are ranked in the top-20 of this week's BCS standings. Illinois' opponents' record is 86-55. One team remains undefeated through 13 weeks as Cincinnati is 11-0.
  • The 2009 Illinois football schedule features eight teams that are bowl eligible this season -- Missouri, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Cincinnati and Fresno State.
  • The Illinois defense dominated the line of scrimmage against Minnesota, racking up seven sacks and eight tackles for loss, both season-highs. The seven sacks are the most by the Illini defense since it had seven at Indiana on 9/22/07. The defense followed up the Minnesota performance with another seven tackles for loss a week later against Northwestern.
  • Defensive end Clay Nurse had a career day against Minnesota with four sacks, for a loss of 28 yards, and seven total tackles, both career-highs. His four sacks tie him for the second most by an Illini in a single game behind only Simeon Rice's five sacks against Northwestern on 9/1/94, and are the most since Will Davis had four sacks against Indiana on 9/22/07.
  • The Illinois offense exploded for 851 combined total yards in its two wins over Michigan and Minneosta, including 500 total yards against the Wolverines. The Illini gained 406 of their 500 yards of offense against Michigan in the second half, marking the most yards gained by a UI team in the second half in recorded history, surpassing the old mark of 393 vs. Arkansas State in 2002. In addition, 312 of Illinois' 377 rushing yards against the Wolverines came in the second half, breaking the UI record for most rushing yards in any half in recorded history. The old mark was 255 in the first half at Minnesota on Nov. 3, 2007.
  • Bolstered by rushing performances of 384 yards against Illinois State on 9/12 and 377 yards against Michigan on Oct. 31, the Illini rank 25th in the nation and third in the Big Ten in rushing yardage per game (188.5).
  • Illinois running backs are averaging 5.6 yards per carry through 11 games. The quintet of Jason Ford (6.4), Mikel LeShoure (5.7), Troy Pollard (6.4), Justin Green (4.8) and Daniel Dufrene (4.7) have rushed for 1,481 yards on 264 carries.
  • Junior receiver Arrelious Benn now sits alone in fifth place on the Illinois career receptions list with 157 catches, needing three to pass John Wright Sr.'s 159 career catches. His career receiving yardage total of 2,160 ranks sixth all-time in the UI record book. Benn also moved into fourth place on the Illinois career all-purpose yards list with 3,526.
  • After four years of growing out his hair, senior tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, of Hawaiin descent, cut off 11 inches to donate to "Locks of Love," a non-profit which collects hair to make wigs for cancer patients.
  • Six true freshman have played for the Illini this year - Walter Aikens, Michael Buchanan, Justin Green, Terry Hawthorne, Hugh Thornton and Joelil Thrash. In addition, two transfers, Jarred Fayson and Aaron Gress, and 12 redshirt-freshmen, Jacob Charest, London Davis, Graham Pocic, Glenn Foster, Evan Frierson, Whitney Mercilus, Pat Nixon, Nate Palmer, Jack Ramsey, Tyler Sands, Justin Staples and Ashante Williams have made their Fighting Illini debuts this season.


FIVE ILLINI EARN ALL-BIG TEN HONORS

  • Jon Asamoah earned 2009 second-team All-Big Ten honors as voted by both the conference media and coaches. He is a four-year starter for the Illini on an offensive line that has twice led the Big Ten in rushing (2006, 2007) and once in passing (2008). In each of the past two seasons, the Illini offense has topped the 5,000-yard mark. He was named to the All-Big Ten honorable mention team in 2008.
  • Four other Illinois players -- WR Arrelious Benn, RB Mikel LeShoure, DE Clay Nurse and QB Juice Wiliams -- were selected to honorable mention All-Big Ten.


ASAMOAH CONTINUES STREAK OF SCHOLAR-ATHLETES

Jon Asamoah was recently named one of 16 recipients of post-graduate scholarships as part of this year's National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete class. He has a 3.82 GPA in community health, has three times earned Academic All-Big Ten honors and was an Academic All-District selection in 2008. Asamoah is the third Illini football player in as many years to earn the honor and become a finalist for the Campbell Trophy (Scholar-Athlete of the Year) -- Ryan McDonald, 2008; J Leman, 2007.


BENN THERE

  • Junior receiver Arrelious Benn ranks fifth on the Illinois career receptions list with 157, while his career receiving yardage total of 2,160 ranks sixth all-time in the UI record book.
  • Benn has 3,526 career all-purpose yards which ranks fourth in school history.
  • Benn ranks sixth on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 972 yards in his career. Next on this list is Chubby Phillips with 1,048 career kickoff return yards.
  • Benn isn't just a weapon in the passing and return games. On Oct. 31 against Michigan, Benn scored his first touchdown of the season on a three-yard run in the first quarter. For his career, Benn has 61 rushes for 280 yards (4.6 ypc) and three touchdowns.
  • Benn has made 34 career starts at Illinois, which is the third-most among Illini receivers in school history. With a start against Fresno State, Benn will tie two-time All-American David Williams in second place with 35 starts.
  • With five catches for 96 yards against Penn State on Oct. 3, Benn continued his stellar play against the Nittany Lions. In three games against PSU, Benn has 15 catches for 290 yards and three touchdowns, plus three kickoff returns for 147 yards and one touchdown.
  • Benn has caught a pass in 35 of his 36 career games. He had a streak of 25 consecutive games with a catch broken earlier this season, which at the time ranked seventh in the nation.
  • Last season, Benn broke the 1,000-yard mark receiving on 67 catches to lead the team and earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. It was the first 1,000-yard season for an Illini receiver since 2002. Benn recorded five 100-yard receiving games and averaged 15.7 yards per catch in 2008.


TURNING POINT

    Illinois went on a two-game winning streak, defeating Michigan (10/31) and Minnesota (11/7). The momentum behind those two wins can be pinned on one big play which served as a turning point.
  • True freshman Terry Hawthorne got his first career start at cornerback against Michigan two weeks ago and recorded a career-high six tackles, including a game-changing, touchdown-saving tackle at the one-yard line on the Wolverine's first drive of the third quarter. Hawthorne chased down UM receiver Roy Roundtree from behind, turning what would have been a 77-yard touchdown and a 20-7 Michigan lead, into a 76-yard pass play and a first-and-goal at the one-yard line.
  • Hawthorne's hustle sparked his teammates and the over 60,000 Illini faithful at Memorial Stadium as the Illinois defense followed up with a dramatic goalline stand, forcing Michigan to turn the ball over on downs after stopping four straight runs at the one-yard line.
  • On the ensuing UI possession, the Fighting Illini went 99 yards on six plays and took the lead for good after a 70-yard touchdown run by Mikel LeShoure made the score 14-13 in favor of the Orange and Blue. That scoring drive tied a school record for longest scoring drive, tying three other times in school history, and opened the floodgates for the Illinois offense to rattle off 24-more points to close out the game.
  • Since Hawthorne's chasedown of Roundtree, Illinois has exploded for 66 points and 757 yards of total offense in just six quarters of play.


JUICE PUTS SQUEEZE ON ILLINI RECORD BOOK

  • Illinois senior quarterback Juice Williams has a chance to leave the Illini program as the most productive signal caller in school history. He ...
    • Already holds the Illinois total offense records for a career (10,327) and season (3,892)
    • Ranks fifth in total offense in Big Ten history
    • Already holds the Illinois QB rushing records for a career (2,501), season (755) and game (174)
    • Ranks third in school history in passing yardage (7,826)
    • Is the Illinois career leader in starts by a quarterback with 43
    • Needs 45 rushing yards to move up to sixth on the Illinois career rushing list
    • Needs three touchdown passes to move to second on the UI list for career scoring strikes
  • Williams broke the Illinois career total offense record earlier this season against Penn State. On the first offensive drive of the game against Cincinnati, Williams became the first Illini player and only the sixth in Big Ten history to surpass 10,000 yards of total offense. Williams had 349 total yards (season-high 282 passing and 67 rushing) in the game and now has 10,327 yards in his career.
  • Williams had his best game of the season vs. Cincinnati, completing 21-of-34 passes (61.7 percent) for 282 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, plus he ran for 67 yards and another touchdown on the ground. With his 349 total yards today, Williams moved up to fifth on the Big Ten's career total yardage list, passing Iowa's Chuck long (10,254).
  • Williams threw the 51st, 52nd and 53rd touchdown passes of his career against the Bearcats. He threw two to sophomore wide receiver Fred Sykes, a 21-yarder in the first quarter and a seven-yarder in the fourth quarter, and 19-yarder to senior receiver Chris Duvalt in the second quarter. With one game remaining, Williams is two touchdown passes behind Jack Trudeau for second on the UI career list.
  • Williams' 67 rushing yards moved him past 2,500 yards for his career. He finished the game with 2,501 career yards on the ground and moved past Howard Griffith (2,485) for eighth on the UI career-rushing list. Williams is within striking distance of both Rashard Mendenhall (2,539) and Pierre Thomas (2,545) for sixth on the list with one game remaining.
  • Williams will finish his career third on Illinois' all-time passing list. He now has 7,826 career passing yards, and could pass the 8,000-yard career milestone with 174 passing yards.
  • Williams ranks second on the all-time Big Ten quarterback rushing list with his 2,501 career yards. Second is where Williams' will stay, however, as Antwaan Randle El's has the conference record of 3,895 rushing yards.
  • With his start at Purdue on Oct. 24, Williams became Illinois' all-time leader in starts by a quarterback. He now has 43 career starts, topping the old record of 39 by Kurt Kittner.
  • Last season, Juice Williams led the conference in both passing and total offense. His 324.3 total yard average was 82.3 yards better per game than the next league player.


HEALING ILLINI

  • Senior tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle) and sophomore tight end Hubie Graham (back/funeral) both returned to play against Cincinnati after missing the previous three games (Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern). Quarterback Juice Williams (ankle) was injured in the first quarter against Minnesota and missed the Northwestern game. He returned to start the contest vs. the Bearcats.
  • Junior receiver Jarred Fayson (knee) returned to the field against Minnesota, but had missed three games with his injury.
  • Senior safety Donsay Hardeman missed last weekend's game against Cincinnati as well as two full games (Purdue and Michigan) and nearly all of the Indiana game on Oct. 17 with a neck injury.
  • Earlier in the season, starters Arrelious Benn, Williams, Hoomanawanui and Garrett Edwards all missed significant time because of injuries. Benn missed most of the season-opener against Missouri with an ankle injury, part of the Michigan State game with a concussion and part of the Michigan game after aggravating his ankle injury. Williams missed nearly the entire Illinois State game after straining a quad on the first play of the game and the final three quarters of the Minnesota game. Hoomanawanui injured an ankle early in the Penn State game and has missed three full games and parts of two other games since then. Edwards missed the Indiana game with a neck injury before returning at Purdue.
  • Junior linebacker Martez Wilson will miss the remainder of the 2009 season with a herniated-disc neck injury. Wilson played in the season opener against Missouri, but sat out against Illinois State and Ohio State before having surgery to repair the injury on Sept. 28. He will spend the rest of the season recovering and helping lead the Illini from the sidelines.
  • Sophomore cornerback Miami Thomas suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason training camp.


JUICE JOINS ELITE ILLINI QBs

Juice Williams has led the Illini to 18 wins in his three-plus years as the starter under center at Illinois, which is fourth in school history. Kurt Kittner (1998-2001) holds the record with 24 wins, one ahead of Jack Trudeau's (1983-85) 23 victories.

  1. Kurt Kittner, 1998-2001 -- 24
  2. Jack Trudeau, 1983-85 -- 23
  3. Jason Verduzco, 1990-92 -- 19
  4. Juice Williams, 2006-09 -- 18
  5. Jeff George, 1988-89 -- 16
  6. Tony Eason, 1981-82 -- 14


BIG TEN LEADING RUSHERS

The Big Ten's career rushing leader entering the season was not a running back, it was Illini quarterback Juice Williams. Penn State running back Evan Royster is the conference's current career rushing leader, but Williams remains second with 2,501 yards rushing in his three-plus seasons as a quarterback, well ahead of third-place John Clay's total of 2,108 yards. Illini running back Daniel Dufrene ranks sixth with 1,213.

  1. Evan Royster, RB, Jr., Penn State -- 2,853
  2. Juice Williams, QB, Sr., Illinois -- 2,501
  3. John Clay, RB, So., Wisconsin -- 2,108
  4. Brandon Minor, RB, Sr., Michigan -- 1,658
  5. Terrelle Pryor, So., Ohio State -- 1,338
  6. Daniel Dufrene, RB, Sr., Illinois -- 1,213
  7. Brandon Saine, Jr., Ohio State -- 1,026
  8. Carlos Brown, Sr., Michigan -- 1,025
  9. Daniel Herron, So., Ohio State -- 997
  10. Ralph Bolden, So., Purdue -- 963
  11. Demetrius McCray, Sr., Indiana -- 962
  12. Duane Bennett, So., Minnesota -- 958
  13. Bryan Payton, Sr., Indiana -- 909
  14. Stephfon Green, So., Penn State -- 862
  15. Mike Kafka, Sr., Northwestern -- 857


THE ILLINI OFFENSE

  • The Illinois offense has posted two games with out committing a turnover -- vs. Michigan and Cincinnati, marking the first time Illinois has had two games in a season without offensive turnovers since the 1997 season (vs. No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 1 Ohio State).
  • Redshirt-freshman quarterback Jacob Charest filled in for the injured Juice Williams against Northwestern posting career bests in attempts (27) and completions (14) in his third collegiate game. However his best game came at Minnesota, when he threw for 185 yards on 10 of 19 passing and a touchdown. In three games, he is averaging 127 passing yards per game and has two touchdown passes and a rushing score on a 10-yard run vs. the Wildcats.
  • Benn's touchdown against the Gophers was his second of the season and his first through the air, as the other was a three-yard run against Michigan. Benn finished the game with three catches for 41 yards and one touchdown.
  • Illinois' 28 points in the first half against Minnesota were the most this year in the first two quarters of play and the most since scoring 28 in the first half against Indiana in 2008. The week before against Michigan, Illinois scored 31 points in the second half.
  • With first and second string tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui and Hubie Graham out with injuries in games against Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern, Jeff Cumberland and redshirt freshman London Davis both stepped up to fill the void. Originally a tight end who was converted to receiver in 2007, Cumberland has caught five passes for 113 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception from Williams vs. Minnesota. Davis, meanwhile, saw the first offensive action of his career against Michigan, catching a two-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for the first reception of his career.
  • Cumberland is nearing the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yardage as the senior has 983 career yards heading into this weekend's game against Fresno State.
  • Sophomore running back Mikel LeShoure posted career-high rushing totals in three straight games from Oct. 17-31, most recently a 21-carry, 150-yard effort against Michigan that included a career-long 70-yard TD run.
  • Illinois has two of the top-30 rushing totals in the NCAA this season. The Illini's 384 yards againt Illinois State on Sept. 12 is the 22nd-best total in the NCAA this season, while the 377 yards against Michigan is the 26th-highest in the country and is the highest total in the Big Ten during conference play.
  • Illinois had two rushers go over 100 yards against Michigan as Mikel LeShoure ran for a career-high 150 yards on 21 carries and Jason Ford racked up 128 yards on 12 carries. The Illini nearly had a third 100-yard rusher against the Wolverines, as Juice Williams ran for 97 yards on the ground. It marked the first time that two Illini went over 100-yards in the same game since Nov. 17, 2007, when Williams had 136 yards and Rashard Mendenhall had 12
  • against Northwestern.
  • Leshoure and Ford both had touchdown runs of over 70-yards against the Wolverines, as Leshoure broke loose for a 70-yard TD run in the third quarter and Ford for a 79-yard scoring run in the fourth. It marks the first time that Illinois has had two runs of 70+ yards in the same game since Oct. 21, 1944, when Buddy Young had runs of 92 yards and 82 yards against Pittsburgh.
  • Ford's 79-yard run against Michigan was the longest rush for an Illini since Rashard Mendenhall's 79-yard TD run against USC in the 2008 Rose Bowl and was the longest play from scrimmage for an Illini since Daniel Dufrene's 80-yard run against Ohio State on Nov. 10, 2007.
  • With 61 rushing yards against Illinois State on Sept. 12, senior running back Daniel Dufrene went over 1,000 yards for his career. He is the 35th player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone and currently sits at 1,213 yards, which ranks 29th on the UI career rushing list.
  • The Illinois offense racked up 548 total yards against Illinois State on Sept. 12, including 384 on the ground, the 22nd-highest single-game total in the nation this season, on 46 carries (8.3 ypc).
  • Jason Ford rushed for 137 yards against ISU, posting the second 100-yard game of his career.


DEFENSIVE NOTES

  • In three games this season, the Illini defense held their opponents to 50 rushing yards or fewer. Illinois State rushed for 44 yards rushing, Minnesota was held to 50 yards and Cincinnati had only 21 on the ground.
  • The Illini defense has only allowed 20 third-quarter points in the last six games. In the last eight games, it hasn't surrendered more than seven points in a third quarter.
  • True-freshman cornerback Terry Hawthorne recorded his first collegiate interception vs. the Gophers and returned it 44 yards for his first touchdown. It was Illinois' first interception since Tavon Wilson's second-half pick against Michigan State on Oct. 10. Hawthorne also recorded a career-best five solo tackles.
  • Hawthorne's interception return for touchdown was the first pick-six for an Illini since Derek Walker took one back 34 yards against Missouri Aug. 30, 2008.
  • Junior defensive end Clay Nurse ranks fifth in the Big Ten in sacks during conference play with 5.5 and is seventh in tackles for loss during league games with 9.0.
  • Defensive tackle Josh Brent had a career-best 1.5 sacks and also added 2.5 tackles for loss against the Gophers. He also forced and recovered a fumble in the first quarter, marking three forced fumble this season.
  • The Illinois defense has held the opposition without a second-half touchdown in three games this season. The Illini `D' shutout Michigan in the second half on Oct. 31 and allowed just a field goal in the second half at Purdue on Oct. 24. In the the Oct. 10 loss to Michigan State, the only points the Spartans got in the second half came on an interception return for touchdown.
  • The Illini defense forced three turnovers against the Wolverines on Oct. 31, the most this season for Illinois against an FBS team. The Orange and Blue also collected three turnovers against Illinois State on Sept. 12.
  • Linebacker Ian Thomas leads the team and ranks 10th in the Big Ten with 7.7 tackles per game. He tied his career-high with eight solo tackles against Michigan and had a TFL, a fumble recovery a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry against the Wolverines. He followed that up with a team-high 10 tackles against Minnesota.
  • Corey Liuget had a career-best 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks against Michigan in addition to recovering a fumble in the second half.
  • Cornerback Tavon Wilson set a career high in tackles with 13 stops against Michigan State and also recorded his first career interception with a pick in the third quarter.
  • The Illini defense recorded seven passes broken up against Michigan State, marking the best pass defense effort since the 11 PBUs against Wisconsin in 2007.
  • Illinois held Ohio State to 82 passing yards in the Sept. 26 matchup, marking the first time since last year's game against the Buckeyes (49 yards) that an opposing team has been held under 100 yards passing. OSU had 0 passing yards in first half.
  • Russell Ellington had a 79-yard interception return against Illinois State on Sept. 12, marking the longest non-scoring interception return in school history. He also had a career-high eight tackles and two passes broken up.


THE SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Junior punter Anthony Santella had a career-game against Michigan on Oct. 31, punting four times for a career-best average of 47.8 yards with one downed inside the 20 and a career-long 65-yarder. In the last six games, Santella is averaging 43.2 per punt on 39 punts, with 11 punts over 50 yards and 11 downed inside the 20.
  • For the season, Santella is averaging a career-best 41.5 yards per kick this year and already has a career-highs with 11 punts of 50+ yards (previous high was seven) and 19 punts fair caught (previous high was 12). He also could establish a new career high for punts inside the 20 (has 15, career high is 17).
  • Sophomore kick-off specialist Derek Dimke had four touchbacks vs. the Wolverines on Oct. 31, the most of his career. For the season he has 10 touchbacks and is averaging 64.3 yards per kickoff.
  • Dimke assumed field goal and extra point duties in addition to kicking off after hitting a 30-yard field goal and his second PAT against Northwestern. He now is a perfect 4-for-4 in field goal attempts and 5-of-5 in extra point attempts. At Indiana, Dimke recovered the first fumble of his career after Nate Bussey forced the ball loose on an Indiana kickoff return.
  • Arrelious Benn ranks sixth on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 972 yards in his career. Next on this list is Chubby Phillips with 1,048 career kickoff return yards.
  • Sophomore Matt Eller kicked the 19th field goal of his career with his 23-yarder against Michigan in the fourth quarter. Eller ranks 10th on the Illinois all-time field goals list.
  • Illinois has had several different players line-up deep for kickoff returns this season, including receivers Arrelious Benn and A.J. Jenkins, running backs Troy Pollard and Justin Green and defensive back Terry Hawthorne. Benn ranks fifth in the Big Ten in kick return average at 26.7 yards per return. On punt returns, receivers Jarred Fayson and Jack Ramsey have both lined-up as return men.


TEAM NOTES

  • The 38-13 victory over Michigan on Oct. 31, combined with last year's 45-20 Illini win in Ann Arbor, marked the first time Illinois has beaten Michigan in back-to-back seasons since 1957 and 1958. It also marked the first time Illinois topped the Wolverines at Memorial Stadium since 1983.
  • Illinois' 35-32 win at Minnesota marked two straight for Illini. It was the first time the Illini have posted back-to-back wins since beating Eastern Illinois and Louisiana-Lafayette in September of last season and the first time they've won back-to-back Big Ten games since beating Ohio State and Northwestern to close out the 2007 Rose Bowl season.
  • Ron Zook became only the third coach in school history to beat Michigan two or more times in their career. Robert Zuppke (29 years, 1913-41) defeated the Wolverines nine times and Ray Eliot (18 years, 1942-59) had eight victories over UM. Illini quarterback Juice Williams is only the second quarterback in modern history (since 1946 when starters were recorded in Illinois archives) to beat Michigan twice. In 1951 and '52, Tom O'Connell engineered wins over the Wolverines.
  • Illinois sold out two of its five home games so far this season, Oct. 3 against Penn State and Oct. 10 against Michigan State. With those two sellouts, Illinois has now had 10 sellouts in the last three seasons. Illinois' average home attendance of 61,746 this season ranks 29th in the nation and Memorial Stadium has been filled to 98.2 percent of its capacity this season, which ranks 27th in the nation.
  • Student season tickets sold out for the Illinois football season this year, marking the second straight season that all 10,000 student tickets sold out.
  • The win over Illinois State on Sept. 12 was Illinois' 12th straight home-opening win. Illinois is now 82-33-5 all-time in home openers. The victory over Illinois State improved Illinois to 11-0 all-time against the other public universities in the state. The Illini are 3-0 against ISU and Northern Illinois, 2-0 against Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois and 1-0 against Western Illinois. All but one of those 11 meetings have come since 1985 (Illinois played ISU in 1944).
  • Attendance for the Sept. 12 home-opener was 62,347, the best home-opening crowd since 1995 vs. Michigan.


KING OF THE HOUSE

  • Last season, Juice Williams accomplished a feat unprecedented in history. In three games during 2008 (Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota), he set stadium records in total offense.
  • Williams passed for 451 yards and rushed for 10 against Missouri on Aug. 30 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo., eclipsing the 456 yards posted by Rams quarterback Marc Bulger against the New York Jets in 2004. Others that Williams surpassed include Kansas State's Michael Bishop, who had 442 total yards in the 1998 Big 12 championship game, and Tommy Corwin, who had 453 for DeSmet in a high school state title game in 2005. Williams managed to surpass Bulger's best day despite being sacked five times by Missouri for a loss of 42 yards. In college, sacks count against a quarterback's rushing yards but in the NFL they don't.
  • Williams compiled 431 yards of total offense at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 4 to set the stadium record. One week later on Oct. 11 against Minnesota, Williams threw for 462 yards and rushed for another 41, making his 503 total yards an Illinois Memorial Stadium record.
  • Based on research collected by Division I SIDs, there are no other current players who own stadium records in more than one venue, much less three.


HOOMANAWANUI HONORING HIS POLYNESIAN DESCENT

  • Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, while growing up in Bloomington, Ill., lived much of the Hawaiian heritage passed down by his father, Isy. Isy came to the States to play football at Illinois State then stayed to raise his family.
  • When Michael came to Illinois, he began many of the traditions carried on by Polynesian and Samoan football players. He entered his freshman year with clean-cut short hair, but then began to grow it out to the long black mane that can be seen out the backs of football helmets. This tradition dates back to Samoan warriors to signify battle. It also is very noticeable to the public in the stands and draws attention to their heritage. However, this week, Hoomanawanui cut 11 inches off his mane to give to "Locks of Love".
  • Hoomanamwanui also got two tattoos, called Aumakua, which means "protectors." His family's protectors are the shark and the turtle, two images that have been passed down for centuries and are now tattoos on Michael's arms and shoulders.
  • Michael also can be seen on campus wearing what looks to be a brightly adorned skirt. However, it is called a kikepa and is traditional dress for men in Hawaii.


TEAM CAPTAINS

HEADLINES