Fighting Illini Hosting Hoosiers Saturday
Oct. 30, 2000
Illinois (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) have lost two in a row and four of five entering the Nov. 4 contest against Indiana (3-4, 2-2). The Illini are 3-1 at Memorial Stadium this season and hope to snap the modest two-game losing streak. In the 14-10 loss at Michigan State Saturday, the Illini offense was held to just three points and 286 yards in total offense. The lone Illini TD came when Bobby Jackson took an interception 39 yards for paydirt. J.J. Tubbs' 22-yard field goal, his first as an Illini, gave Illinois a 10-7 lead with 12:15 remaining in the game. MSU used Dawan Moss' second rushing TD of the game to retake the lead with 8:04 remaining, and following an Illini punt with 4:51 remaining in the game, was able to run out the clock with four first downs.
Antoinio Harris led the Illini with 123 yards rushing, but was held out of the end zone.
Illinois needs to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible this season. Besides Indiana on Nov. 4, remaining games are against Ohio State (Nov. 11) and at Northwestern (Nov. 18).
THE COACHES' CORNER
RON TURNER (15-27 in his fourth year at Illinois, 22-31 over -all) In his fourth year at the helm of the Fighting Illini Football program, head coach Ron Turner has Illinois geared toward one of the greatest turn-arounds in college football. He enters the Nov. 4 contest against Indiana with a 22-31 head coaching record, 15-27 at Illinois. The Illini have won nine of their last 14 games stretching back to 1999 and had a seven-game winning streak snapped Sept. 23 against Michigan.
Turner is 1-2 against Indiana as a head coach. Last year, the Hoosiers took a 34-31 overtime win over the Illini at Bloomington.
After sub-par seasons in 1997 and `98, Turner led the Illini to an 8-4 record and a 63-21 thumping of Virginia in the Micronpc.com Bowl. For his efforts, Turner finished fourth in the Associated Press's Coach of the Year voting.
Turner came to Illinois after a four-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears (1993-96). In 1992, he was the head coach for San Jose State where he turned in a 7-4 record and a second-place finish in the Big West Conference. Turner has served as an assistant at Stanford, Texas A&M, Southern California, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Arizona working mainly with quarterbacks and receivers during his 20-plus years in college coaching.
CAM CAMERON (13-28 in his 4th season as head coach at Indiana and at the college level) - Cam Cameron took over the head coaching duties at Indiana in 1997 and has posted a 13-28 record. Cameron worked in the NFL as an assistant coach with the Washington Redskins from 1994-96 and as an assistant at Michigan from 1984-93. Cameron is 2-1 vs. Illinois while at Indiana.
Illinois leads the all-time series 37-17-3, including a 24-7-1 margin at Champaign in a series that dates back to 1899. Illinois has won six of the last eight in the series, although the Hoosiers have take two of the last three. Looking back to 1981, the Illini have won 12 of 15. Illinois has won seven in a row in the series at Champaign, dating back to a 45-14 win by the Hoosiers in 1979. Last year, the Hoosiers outscored the Illini 20-3 in the fourth quarter to force overtime before winning on a 25-yard TD pass from Antwaan Randle El to Levron Williams.
Indiana head coach Cam Cameron was an assistant under Norv Turner, broth-er of Illinois head coach Ron Turner, with the Washington Redskins from 1994- 96. Indiana defensive line coach Ted Daisher was a graduate assistant at Illinois in 1979 under Gary Moeller. Daisher also was on the Cincinnati staff with Illini offensive line coach Harry Hiestand from 1989-92. Illini quarterbacks coach Craig Ver Steeg also was on the Cincinnati staff from 1990-92. Indiana offensive coordinator Hal Hunter was at Pittsburgh with Ron Turner from 1983- 84.
The University of Illinois roster lists five members from the state of Indiana, while Indiana also has five Illinois transplants. The Illini from the Hoosier state are senior tight end Josh Whitman from West Lafayette, junior defensive tackle Brandon Moore from Gary, sophomore cornerback Eugene Wilson from Merrillville, sophomore center James Brown from Pleasant Lake and sophomore cornerback Kendall McCroy from Peru. Moore attended Westside High School along with senior wide receiver O.J. Connor of Indiana. The most notable of the Hoosier Illinoisians is quarterback Antwaan Randle El from Riverdale, Ill. (Thorton High School). Among the others on the roster are: junior offensive guard Jay Cantwell from Glenview, Ill., redshirt-freshman cornerback Duane Stone from Evanston, Ill., redshirt-freshman defensive back Matt Mason from St. Charles, Ill. and true-freshman linebacker Steve Williams from Bolingbrook. Williams hails from the same high school as Illini tailback Antoineo Harris and linebacker Eric Garrett, while Stone attended Evanston Township High School along with Illinois freshman defensive tackle Clark Collins.
The Illinois offense put together an 18-play drive, elapsing 7:04 in the Illini's 31-0 win over Iowa to tie a school record for plays in an offensive drive, something only done for the fourth time in school history. The drive resulted in a touchdown for the Illini. Just two weeks later, the Illini match the record-high with another 18-play drive for 66 yards against Michigan State.
After a season without a defensive touchdown in 1999, the Illini are making a habit of turning turnovers into points. Twice in the last three games, the Illinois defense has taken an interception into the end zone. Junior, safety Bobby Jackson scored his first career touchdown following a 39- yard interc e p t i o n re t u rn against Michigan State, while senior linebacker Mondrian Long had a 7 5 - y a rd interception re t u rn for a touchdown in the Illini's blanking of Iowa 31-0.
LEAST LIKELY TO GET PENALIZED
One of the most tell-tale signs of a well-disciplined team is the amount of penalties charged. The latest NCAA rankings show Illinois as the least penal-ized team of the 114 squads in Division I football. The Illini lead the pack with only 34 penalties and 296 yards - Texas Tech and Louisville bring up the rear with 101 penalties for over 800 yards.
Illinois' 31-0 shutout over Iowa Oct. 14 was its first since a 7-0 victory over East Carolina Sept. 23, 1995 and the first in Big Ten play since a 34-0 win over Purdue on Oct. 13, 1990, a streak of 82 straight games.
Illinois' seven-game winning that was snapped against Michigan streak ranks among the best in school history.
ILLINI IN THE POLLS
After spending six weeks in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls, the Illini fell out of the Top-25 following four tough conference losses to Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State and Michigan State. The six-week stint was the longest for Illinois since 1990 when the team spent the entire sea-son in the rankings. The Illini entered the 2000 season with a Top-25 national ranking by both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll for the first time since prior to the 1995 season when they were rated No. 24. The Illini finished the 1999 season ranked 24th by the AP and 25th in the Coaches Top-25.
THIS KITT'S FOR REAL
No one can deny the impact quarterback Kurt Kittner made on the Illini in `99 with his 2,702 yards passing, school record 24 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. After his 15-touchdown, 57 percent completion performance in the last eight games, Kittner is on-track to continue his productivity of a year ago. Kittner has passed for 1,539 yards this season and has connected with five different receivers for TDs (11 different receivers in 1999), including six touchdown passes to sophomore flanker Greg Lewis and four to tight end Josh Whitman. The numbers also have earned him recognition as a All-America, Heisman Trophy and Davey O'Brien Award candidate.
Although the Illini's equal use of two tailbacks the past two years has kept the Illinois running backs from posting individual 1,000-yard seasons (last time 1997 Robert Holcombe, 1,253), the running game is more prosperous than ever. Junior Rocky Harvey and sophomore Antoineo Harris each posted 100- yard rushing games against Middle Tennessee and San Diego State, marking the first time in school history two Illinois tailbacks have had 100+ yards in back-to-back games. Each back has also posted a third 100-yard game, Harris with 123 yards against Michigan State and Harvey with 104 in the Illini's 31-0 win over Iowa. The per-formances prove that together they are one of the premier running back duos in college football. Combine the numbers of the tandem, 136.9 yards per game, (70.4 yards a game for Harris and 66.5 ypg for Harvey) and they would be ranked eighth in the nation and fourth in the Big Ten, according to this week's NCAA and conference stats. Harvey also broke into the Top-10 all-time rushing in the Illinois record books following his performance against the Hawkeyes. He has posted 1,944 yards in three years and needs only 250 to reach the Top-5. The two-tailback combo of Harvey and Steve Havard rushed for 1,564 yards in 1999 and the 2,082 yards rushing by the Illini team in was the most since 1978 when the squad ran for 2,186 yards.
TIGHT END PRODUCTION
Following his four-yard touchdown catch against Penn State, senior tight end Josh Whitman (7 career TDs) pulled to within two of the Illinois record for career touchdowns by a tight end. Lee Boeke, 1977-80, and Ken Dilger, 1991-94, both caught nine touchdown passes during their Illini career. The 2000 tight end corp is already on pace to be the most productive in the Turner era, having matched the six touchdowns caught in `99. The most touchdowns by a group of tight ends was eight in 1994. The 2000 group of Whitman and Brian Hodges (4 career TDs) account for 19 catches and 178 yards. Here are top-5 lists of all-time catch-es, yards and touchdowns by tight ends.
Eight true-freshmen have played on this Illini team in 2000, four players alone on the defensive line. In a conference where it is uncommon to see so many young faces on the defensive lines, four freshmen, Charles Gilstrap (DT), Clark Collins (DT), Derrick Strong, DE, and Jemari Perry, DE, have lined up and played signifi-cant time in key backup roles. The foursome have combined for 14 tackles and one sack in the three-game stretch. During this 2000 season, the Illini lost five d-linemen to a number of different factors (Karleton Thomas, DT, academics, Tim McGill, DE, academics, Shaheed Richardson, DT, transfer, Mike O'Brien, DE, injury, and Jeff Ruffin, DT, injury).
LARGE AND IN CHARGE
The starting Fighting Illini offensive line coached by Harry Hiestand is the largest in school history at a total of 1,540 pounds, or an average of 308 per player across the front line from tackle-to-tackle. The average of 308 pounds per player is larger than the starting offensive lines on 11 NFL teams, including last year's Super Bowl teams St. Louis and Tennessee. The five starting offensive line group (from left tackle to right tackle) of Marques Sullivan (6-5, 320), Jay Kulaga (6-5, 306), Luke Butkus (6-4, 287), Ray Redziniak (6-5, 297) and Tony Pashos (6-6, 330) average 6-foot-4.6-inches and 308 pounds per man.
ITS A FAMILY AFFAIR
WAKEFIELD TWICE NAMED BIG TEN DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
For his two pass deflection, six solo tackle, two sack perf o rmance in the Illini's 17-15 win over California and his eight-tackle, two-sack perf o rmance in the I l l i n i 's 31-0 blanking of Iowa, defensive end Fred Wakefield was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. The senior from Tuscola, Ill., now has eight sacks on the season and 14 tackles for loss which rank first in the Big Te n .
SULLIVAN NAMED TO PLAYBOY PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN TEAM
This fall, senior offensive tackle Marques Sullivan became the first Illini player in five years to earn the prestigious honor of preseason All-American by Playboy magazine. Athletes selected to the team traveled to the Playboy ranch in Arizona in May and were honored in the October football preview issue of Playboy. The last time an Illinois player earned these honors were by lineback-ers Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy in 1995.
YOUNG NAMED BUTKUS AWARD CANDIDATE
Senior linebacker Michael Young has been named to the preliminary list of can-didates for the Butkus Award, which honors the nation's top collegiate line-backer. He is making his first appearance on the list and is one of 10 players selected from the Big Ten Conference. The watch list will be trimmed to 10 semi-finalists on Oct. 19 and the three finalists will be announced on a national teleconference on Nov. 9. The winner will be announced Friday, Dec. 8 at the Hard Rock Live in Universal Studios.
ABDULLAH NAMED THORPE AWARD CANDIDATE
Junior safety Muhammad Abdullah was named among 40 players as a candidate for the 2000 Thorpe Award which honors the nation's top collegiate defensive back. Finalists will be invited to ESPN's College Football Award Show at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Where the winner will be announced Dec. 7.