Nov. 11, 2013
Beckman Press Conference: Video | Quotes
Monday Interviews: OC Cubit | DC Banks | LB Brown | WR Hull | LB Monheim | QB Scheelhaase
OHIO STATE GAME PROMOTIONS
Honor Our Military Day - In honor of Veterans Day, military shoutouts and photos will be shown during game
Illini Walk - 8:30 starting at First and Kirby through Street Fest area
Illini Street Fest - 8:30-11 am on First St. west of Memorial Stadium (Free admission, food, games & more)
Tons O'Fun Band Concert - Live performance at Street Fest
Opening Kick: The Illini (3-6 overall, 0-5 B1G Leaders) will look to upset No. 3 Ohio State (9-0, 5-0) for their first Big Ten win this Saturday at Memorial Stadium (11 a.m. CT, ESPN).
Rivalry Run: Saturday's game marks the first of three straight rivalry trophy games to end the season. The Illini and Buckeyes will play for the "Illibuck," a wooden turtle, on Saturday. The next week, Illinois and Purdue will square off for the "Cannon" in West Lafayette. Finally, on Nov. 30, in-state rivals Illinois and Northwestern will close out 2013 by battling for the Land of Lincoln trophy at Memorial Stadium.
Brown an All-America Candidate: Senior LB and All-America candidate Jonathan Brown leads the Big Ten and ranks 20th nationally in tackles per game (9.8). Brown, who was named to Phil Steele's midseason All-America third team, also ranks fifth in the conference in TFLs per game (1.17). He is one of only two players in the nation currently averaging over 9.5 tackles per game with at least 10.0 TFLs.
Offensive Improvement: The revamped Illinois offense, directed by new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, has made huge improvements from 2012. The Illini have jumped at least 55 spots in the national rankings from last year to this year in long scrimmage plays, first downs, passing offense, total offense, passing efficiency, turnovers lost and scoring offense, with the biggest turnaround a 92-place jump in plays ot 20+ yards.
| ILLINOIS' OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT IN 2013
|Category||2012 (Final Nat'l Rk)||2013 (Current Nat'l Rk)||Difference|
|Scrim. plays of 20+ yd||34 (122)||51 (30)||+92
|First Downs (per game)||16.4 (120)||23.7 (34)||+86
|Passing Offense (ypg)||138.83 (107)||288.9 (23)||+84
|Total Offense (ypg)||296.67 (119)||425.3 (63)||+63|
|Passing Efficiency||113.42 (102)||143.01 (41)||+61|
|Turnovers lost||30 (107)||14 (49)||+58|
|Scoring Offense (ppg)||16.67 (119)||29.7 (63)||+56|
Scheelhaase Having Big Year: Senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase has thrived in Cubit's system, leading the Big Ten and ranking in the top 25 nationally in completions per game (22.1 cpg, 15th) and passing yards per game (268.9 ypg, 22nd), and ranking second in the conference and 23rd nationally in total offense (285.7 ypg).
Career Day: Scheelhaase had a career-high 495 yards of total offense at Indiana (450 passing, 45 rushing), the third-best total in school history behind only Dave Wilson (585 yards at Ohio State, 11/8/80) and Juice Williams (503 yards vs. Minnesota, 10/11/08).
Squeezing Juice? Scheehaase has 9,662 career yards of total offense. He needs to average 311 yards per game over the final three regular season games to break Juice Williams' school record of 10,594 total yards.
Home at WR: Senior wide reciever Steve Hull, who spent the last three years as a starting safety, exploded for 224 yards receiving at Indiana. It was the second-best single-game total in school history and made him one of only three players in UI history to record 200+ receiving yards in a game.
Ferguson a Dual Threat: Sophomore RB Josh Ferguson ranks second in the nation in receiving yards per game by a running back, averaging 53.7 yards per game (483 yards on 37 receptions, 13.1 ypc). He leads the Illini in rushing yards (485) and touchdowns (8), is second on the team in receiving yards (483), and ranks seventh in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (111.7).
600 is a Serious Number: In 124 years of football, Illinois has had 600-plus total yards in a game 11 times. Two of those 11 times have come this season (612 at Indiana and 601 vs. Miami [Ohio]). Coming into the year, Illinois had not reached 600 yards of total offense since 2007 (655 yards at Minnesota on 11/3/07).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
QB Nathan Scheelhaase needs 338 total yards to become the second player in school history to amass 10,000 yards of total offense. He needs to average 311 yards per game through the final three games to break Juice Williams' Illinois total yardage school record (10,594).
Scheelhaase needs one TD pass to become the fourth player in Illinois history to throw 50 career touchdowns.
Scheelhaase needs 284 passing yards to reach 8,000 for his career and 322 passing yards to pass Juice Williams and move into third place on the Illinois career passing yardage list.
Scheelhaase needs 54 rushing yards to become the 16th Illini to rush for 2,000 yards in a career (2nd QB).
RB Josh Ferguson needs 21 receiving yards to break Kameno Bell's single-season school record for receiving yards by a running back (503). Currently third on the list, Ferguson needs 13 yards to pass Darrell Smith (495 yards) for second place.
LB Jonathan Brown needs one tackle for loss to tie Fred Wakefield for third place on the UI career TFLs list.
THE BATTLE FOR THE ILLIBUCK
This week, Illinois and Ohio State will play for the coveted Illibuck trophy, one of Illinois' three trophy games. Ohio State leads the "Illibuck" series with a 61-23-2 mark.
"Illibuck" is - or was - a turtle, destined for long life, it was hoped. But the wear and tear of traveling between Champaign-Urbana and Columbus was too much, even for a hardy marine reptile. "Illibuck" died in the spring of 1927 and his successor is now a wooden replica. Members of two junior honorary societies, Bucket and Dipper of Ohio State and Atius-Sachem of Illinois, annually meet at halftime of the Fighting Illini-Buckeye game to present the "Illibuck" trophy to the previous year's winning school.
Illinois last took the "Illibuck" with a 28-21 win at Columbus in 2007, but Ohio State took it back with a 30-20 win in Champaign in 2008 and retained it the last four years with a 30-0 win at Ohio Stadium in 2009, a 24-13 win at Memorial Stadium in 2010, a 17-7 win in Champaign in 2011 and a 52-22 win at Columbus last year.
OHIO STATE SERIES NOTES
The Last Meeting
November 3, 2012
This weekend's game between Illinois and Ohio State will mark the 100th meeting between the two teams, dating back to 1902. OSU holds the series lead, 65-30-4, and also leads in Columbus, 35-12-0. The Illini's last win over OSU was in Columbus in 2007, when Juice Williams
led Illinois to a 28-21 win over the top-ranked Buckeyes.
Illinois' last five wins in the series have come in Columbus. The last time the Illini defeated the Buckeyes in Champaign was a 10-7 win in 1991. Since then, OSU has won nine straight over the Illini at Memorial Stadium.
Illinois has fared relatively well against Buckeyes recently, posting a 9-14 record against OSU dating back to 1988. Only Michigan has more victories over Ohio State during the span, posting a 12-12-1 record vs. OSU.
This will be Illinois coach Tim Beckman's
fourth head-to-head meeting with Ohio State. He is 0-3, losing to the Buckeyes 27-22 in 2011 and 38-0 in 2009 while at Toledo, and then 52-22 last year with Illinois.
Beckman considers Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to be one of his mentors in the coaching profession, as Beckman worked as Meyer's defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Bowling Green from 1998-2004. The duo led the Falcons to two bowl games, a MAC East division title and a standing in the final national rankings in 2003. Saturday will mark the second meeting between the two as head coaches.
Beckman was the cornerbacks coach on the Ohio State coaching staff from 2005-06 under Jim Tressel, helping the Buckeyes to the 2006 Fiesta Bowl and the 2007 BCS National Championship Game. The Buckeyes were 22-3 during Beckman's tenure in Columbus, as he coached six All-Big Ten defensive backs and five future NFL players.
Beckman is a native of Berea, Ohio, and is a 1988 graduate of the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio. He was a two-year letter-winner at defensive back from 1984-87.
Illini tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh
is a 2006 Ohio State graduate. As an undergraduate student, Golesh got his start in the coaching business by spending two-and-a-half years aiding the Buckeyes' defensive coaches. Illinois running backs coach Tim Salem
spent four seasons on the Ohio State staff, serving as quarterbacks coach from 1997-99 and as QB/wide recievers coach in 2000. Additionally, Illini director of football game analysis George Anasis
is a 2004 Ohio State graduate and worked as a student video assistant for the Buckeyes from 2003-05.
Illinois has 18 players on its roster from the state of Ohio, more than any other state except Illinois, including the following 11 players who have seen regular time on the field in 2013: sophomore DB V'Angelo Bentley
(Cleveland/Glenville), junior OL Simon Cvijanovic
(Cleveland/Benedictine), freshman DB Caleb Day
(Hilliard/Darby), senior OL Jake Feldmeyer
(Centerville/Centerville), sophomore WR Justin Hardee
(Cleveland/Glenville), senior WR6 Steve Hull
(Cincinnati/Sycamore), senior DL Tim Kynard
(Toledo/St. John's), sophomore LB Mason Monheim
(Orrville/Orrville), freshman OL Austin Schmidt
(Galena/Olentangy), redshirt freshman OL Joe Spencer
(Mason/Mason) and sophomore LB Mike Svetina
HIGHLIGHTS AGAINST THE BUCKEYES
Illinois' last win over the Buckeyes in 2007 marked the first time the Illini beat a top-ranked team since 1956. The victory ended OSU's 29-game regular-season winning streak and 21-game Big Ten win streak. The Buckeyes currently own a 21-game winning streak.
Junior holder Tim Russell showed his versatility in last year's loss at the Horseshoe, converting a pair of two-point conversions late in the game. He connected with Matt LaCosse on a two-point pass in the final seconds of the third quarter, Russell's first career points, and ran it in for two after mishandling the snap on Illinois' final touchdown. He has since recorded three more two-point conversions via pass, giving him five for his career.
Sixth-year senior OL Corey Lewis completed his storybook comeback in last year's game at Ohio State, taking the field for his first game action since Dec. 5, 2009, a string of 34 consecutive games missed because of five surgeries on three knee injuries. Lewis played 25 snaps in the game, entering on Illinois' second offensive drive of the game. He has played in every game since (12 games), including starts at RT in every game this season.
LB Jonathan Brown was a wrecking ball against the Buckeyes in 2011, recording 17 tackles - which still stands as his career high - while recording 2.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. He missed year's game due to injury.
QB Nathan Scheelhaase had his first career reception against Ohio State in 2010, hauling in a 23-yard pass from WR Jarred Fayson. Scheelhaase also ran for a three-yard touchdown in that game. For his career, he is averaging 157.0 yards of total offense per game in three meetings with the Buckeyes.
FS Steve Hull had six tackles against the Buckeyes in 2011.
TE Evan Wilson caught a three-yard touchdown pass in the 2011 game against the Buckeyes.
ILLINOIS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
Illinois faces its third Associated Press top-25 opponent of the season on Saturday as Ohio State is ranked No. 3 in this week's AP, Coaches and BCS polls.
The Illini are 0-2 against AP-ranked teams this season, falling to #19 Washington at Soldier Field on Sept. 14 and 56-32 to #25 Wisconsin on Oct. 19.
The Illini have lost seven straight and 16 of their last 17 against foes ranked in the AP poll since beating No. 1 Ohio State 28-21 on Nov. 10, 2007. The lone win during that span came on Sept. 17, 2011, over No. 22/18 Arizona State, 17-14. Illinois has lost its last three home games against ranked foes since beating ASU at Memorial Stadium.
In 2010, the Illini defeated a Northwestern team that was ranked No. 25 in the coaches poll, 48-27, at Wrigley Field. However, the Wildcats were not ranked in the AP poll at the time.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman is 0-8 against AP-ranked ranked opponents in his 4+ years as a head coach.
WHOSE HOUSE? SCHEEL-HOUSE
Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase completed a career-high 38-of-57 passes for a career-high 450 yards last week at Indiana. It marked the fifth-best passing yardage total in school history and the third-most completions in a game in UI history. It also was the second straight week that Scheelhaase set career highs in completions and attempts as the previous week, at Penn State, he completed 33-of-52 passes.
Scheelhaase has thrived in the past two games, totaling 771 yards on 71-of-109 passing with three touchdowns after throwing for only 487 yards and no touchdowns on 46-of-74 passes in Illinois' first three Big Ten games.
Scheelhaase has blown past his 2012 season totals for passing yards, touchdown passes, 20-plus-yard pass plays, 30+ pass plays and 50+ pass plays, while improving his passing efficiency by nearly 50 points. Take a look at his 2013 numbers versus his numbers last season:
| Scheelhaase Passing 2012 vs. 2013|
Scheelhaase has found great success on first down, completing 107-of-145 (73.8 percent) passes on first down for 1,375 yards and seven touchdowns for a 163.9 passing efficiency rating. He ranks fourth in the nation in first-down completion percentage among QBs with 80 or more first-down attempts, and has 16 plays of 25-plus yards on first down, seventh-most in FBS.
Scheelhaase has 21 first-half plays of 25-plus-yards, tied for third-most in FBS with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Oregon's Marcus Mariota and behind only Baylor's Bryce Petty (27) and Clemson's Tajh Boyd (22).
Scheelhaase is one of three players in the nation with over 7,500 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards. He is 10th among active FBS players in career total yards with 9,662.
Scheelhaase ranks second on the Illinois career completions list (687) and also ranks fourth in career passing efficiency (129.6), career touchdown passes (49), career attempts (1,106) and career passing yardage (7,716). See page 13 to track Scheelhaase's ascent up several UI career lists.
Scheelhaase set a school record for TD passes in a quarter with four in the second quarter against Miami (Ohio). He tossed a career-high five TDs against the RedHawks, all in the first half, one more than he had all of last season. Those five TDs in a half tied the Illinois record shared by Dave Wilson and Tom O'Connell.
Scheelhaase threw for 340 yards in the first half of the season-opener against Southern Illinois, marking the most ever for an Illini in the first half and the most in any half since Juice Williams totaled 347 passing yards in the second half against Minnesota on Oct. 11, 2008.
After starting the first nine games this season, Scheelhaase now has 45 career starts under his belt, the third-most in the nation by a quarterback behind only Georgia's Aaron Murray (50) and Troy's Corey Robinson (46).
Scheelhaase led Illinois to bowl victories in each his first two seasons (2010 Texas Bowl and 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl), making him one of only two QBs in Big Ten history to start and lead their teams to bowl wins during both his freshman and sophomore seasons (Brooks Bollinger, Wisconsin). After missing a bowl in 2012, Scheelhaase is looking to end his UI career with a third bowl win, something no Illini QB has done previously.
Scheelhaase has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District first team this fall, adding to his already long list of off-the-field accolades. He completed his bachelor's degree in 3.5 years and is currently on track to graduate with his master's degree in recreation, sport and tourism in December 2013. He is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2010-12) and was a 2012 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
All-America candidate Jonathan Brown had a monster game at Indiana, racking up seven tackles, 2.0 TFLs, one sack, one interception returned 16 yards to set up an Illini score, and one other pass break-up. The interception was the third of Brown's career.
Brown continues to lead the Big Ten with 88 tackles and ranks 20th in the nation at 9.8 tackles per game. He is trying to become the first Illini to lead the conference in tackles since Brit Miller in 2008.
Brown has a team-high 10.5 TFLs this season, ranking fifth in the Big Ten, and giving him 41.0 TFLs in his career. That total ranks fourth on the UI career TFLs list, just one TFL behind Fred Wakefield for third place.
Brown is a member of preseason watch lists for the Butkus Award, Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy. Last season, he was one of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which goes annually to the nation's top linebacker and is named after Illinois legend Dick Butkus. Take a look at how Brown stacks up against the Big Ten's top LBs:
|Big Ten Linebacker Comparison (Through Week 11)
|Name, School||G||Tackles||TPG (NR)||TFL||TFL/G (NR)||Sacks||QBH||PD||FF|
|Brown, ILL||9||88||9.8 (20)|| 10.5||1.17 (41)|| 4.0||2||4||1
|Borland, WIS||8||70||8.8 (46)||5.5||0.69 (-)||4.0||3||2||0|
|Hitchens, Iowa||10|| 87||8.7 (49)|| 10.0||1.00 (83)|| 2.0||1|| 1||1|
|Shazier, OSU||9||73||8.1 (85)||12.0||1.33 (21)||4.0||5||1||2|
|Morris, Iowa||10||81||8.1 (83)||10.0||1.00 (83)||5.0||0||5||1|
|Allen, MSU||9||57||6.3 (-)||11.0||1.22 (31)||5.0||7||1||0
|Bullough, MSU||9||52||5.8 (-)||6.5||0.72 (-)||1.0||9||2||1
Brown forced his first fumble of the season against Michigan State, saving a touchdown by jarring the ball loose as MSU QB Connor Cook reached for the end zone.
Brown had a monster game at Nebraska, racking up a game-high 13 tackles and tying his career high with 4.0 TFLs, tied for the third-most TFLs in a game by an FBS player this season.
Over the last two years, Brown has put up monster numbers when healthy. He was leading the Illini with 59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2012 before having his season cut short by a shoulder injury. That followed a breakout 2011 season, when he earned All-Big Ten honors with 108 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He ranked sixth in the nation in TFLs per game (1.63) and led the Big Ten in TFLs per game during conference play (2.07) in 2011.
LINEBACKER U: NOT WHERE YOU THINK IT IS
Like many Illini teams over the years, the 2013 Illini defense is led by its linebacking corps. This year, senior Jonathan Brown, a 2012 Butkus Award semifinalist, and sophomore Mason Monheim, a 2012 Freshman All-American key the attack. Brown has piled up 255 tackles, 39.5 TFLs and 12.5 sacks over the last two-plus seasons, while Monheim became the first true-freshman ever to lead the Illini in tackles and led all Big Ten freshmen with 86 stops last season. Not surprisingly, the duo is 1-2 on the team in tackles so far this season as Brown is averaging a Big Ten-best 9.8 stops per game, 20th-best in FBS, and Monheim ranks seventh in the Big Ten with 8.2 tackles per game.
Illinois' history at the linebacker position is up there with any program in the nation. It begins with football legend Ray Nitschke, who donned the Orange and Blue from 1955-57, and the greatest linebacker in football history, Dick Butkus, who was a two-time All-American and led the Fighting Illini to a 1964 Rose Bowl win over Washington. The Orange and Blue boast two Butkus Award winners, Dana Howard in 1994 and Kevin Hardy in 1995, and several first-team All-Americans like Darrick Brownlow (1990), Simeon Rice (1994 & `95) and J Leman (2007), in addition to Butkus, Howard and Hardy. Illinois linebacker lore also includes multi-year NFL players Scott Studwell, Danny Clark, Martez Wilson and Nate Bussey.
FERGUSON A DUAL THREAT
Sophomore running back Josh Ferguson is having a breakout season for the Illini. He ranks second in the nation in average receiving yards by a running back (53.7 ypg) and also leads the Illini in rushing yards (485) and touchdowns (eight total: four receiving & four rushing).
Ferguson needs just 21 receiving yards to break Kameno Bell's Illinois record for most receiving yards in a season by a running back (503).
Ferguson is averaging 111.7 scrimmage yards per game (53.7 rushing, 53.9 receiving), which ranks 50th nationally and seventh in the Big Ten.
He is one of just six FBS players with both a 100-yard rushing game (114 at Nebraska) and a 100-yard receiving game (103 yards vs. Southern Illinois) this season.
Ferguson has three career 100-yard games, two rushing and one receiving. He ran for 114 yards on 19 carries (6.0 ypc) at Nebraska on Oct. 5 and also ran for 101 yards at Arizona State on Sept. 8, 2012. His 100-yard receiving game came in the 2013 season opener against Southern Illinois, when he had four catches for 103 yards.
In 2012, Ferguson led all Big Ten freshmen in all-purpose yards per game (90.7).
FORMER ILLINI IN SPACE
Former Illini defensive back and current NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins is in the middle of his first space flight. Hopkins and crewmates Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, at 3:58 p.m. CT on Sept. 25, and arrived at the International Space Station six hours later. Hopkins will remain on board as a flight engineer on Expedition 37/Expedition 38, which is scheduled to end with the Soyuz landing in March 2014. During its time on the station, the crew will conduct science experiments and maintenance.
Each week, Hopkins sends the team a video from the International Space Station congratulating the previous week's special teams player of the game and giving the team a message for the upcoming game.
Hopkins played for coach John Mackovic at Illinois, helping the Fighting Illini reach four straight bowl games from 1988-91. He started his career as a walk-on and by the time he was a senior, he was a team captain. He graduated from Illinois in 1991 with a degree in aerospace engineering and earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering from Stanford in 1992. A colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Hopkins was selected in July 2009 as one of 14 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class. More on Hopkins and his mission can be found at www.nasa.gov/station and on Twitter @AstroIllini.
COREY LEWIS: THE COMEBACK KID
Senior OT Corey Lewis is one the feel-good stories in college football. After missing more than two-and-half years (34 games) recovering from three ACL tears and five different knee surgeries, Lewis saw his first game action in over 1,000 days at Ohio State on Nov. 3, 2012, and played in the season's final four games. With a bachelor's degree in communication already in hand and a sixth year of NCAA eligibility granted, Lewis made his first career start in the 2013 season-opener against Southern Illinois, more than five years after first setting foot on campus, and has started every game since, playing a huge role in Illinois' offensive resurgence. The icing on the cake for Lewis came at Indiana, when he pounced on a loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown, his first career points.
Complete Illinois-Ohio State Game Notes