Nov. 18, 2013
Beckman Press Conference: Video | Quotes
Monday Interviews: OC Cubit | DC Banks | QB Scheelhaase | DB Petty
Opening Kick: Illinois (3-7 overall, 0-6 B1G Leaders) and Purdue (1-9 overall, 0-6 B1G Leaders) both will be seeking their first Big Ten win this Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. (Noon ET/11 a.m. CT, BTN).
Rivalry Run: Saturday's game marks the second of three straight rivalry trophy games to end the season. The Illini and Boilermakers will play for the "Cannon" on Saturday. Last week, Ohio State won the "Illibuck" trophy in the 100th meeting between the two teams. Next week, in-state rivals Illinois and Northwestern will close out 2013 by battling for the Land of Lincoln trophy at Memorial Stadium.
Scheelhaase Saving His Best for Last: Senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase has thrived in offensive coordinator Bill Cubit's system, leading the Big Ten and ranking in the top 25 nationally in total offense (290.5 ypg, 22nd), passing yards per game (270.8, 22nd) and completions per game (23.2 cpg, 13th). Scheelhaase also ranks second in the conference in points responsible for (128).
Squeezing Juice? Scheehaase has 9,996 career yards of total offense, which ranks second all-time at Illinois and 10th in Big Ten history. He needs to average 299 yards per game over the final two games to break Juice Williams' school record of 10,594 total yards.
Nathan, So Hot Right Now: Scheelhaase has thrived in the past three games, totaling 1,059 yards on 104-of-159 passing (65.4 percent) with five touchdowns after throwing for only 487 yards and no touchdowns on 46-of-74 passes (62.2 percent) in Illinois' first three Big Ten games.
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 49 spots in the national rankings from last year to this year in long scrimmage plays, first downs, passing offense, total offense, scoring offense, passing efficiency, and turnovers lost, with the biggest turnaround a 91-place jump in plays of 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)||55 (31)||+91
|First Downs (per game)||16.4 (120)||23.7 (31)||+89
|Passing Offense (ypg)||138.83 (107)||288.8 (25)||+82
|Total Offense (ypg)||296.67 (119)||424.8 (56)||+63|
|Scoring Offense (ppg)||16.67 (119)||30.2 (59)||+60|
|Passing Efficiency||113.42 (102)||139.92 (44)||+58|
|Turnovers lost||30 (107)||16 (58)||+49|
Brown an All-America Candidate: Senior LB and All-America candidate Jonathan Brown leads the Big Ten and ranks 29th nationally in tackles per game (9.4). Brown, who was named to Phil Steele's midseason All-America third team, also ranks fourth in the conference in TFLs per game (1.15).
Bentley Shines in Return Game: Sophomore DB/KR/PR V'Angelo Bentley is the first player in 124 years of Illinois football history to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same season. He had a 67-yard punt return for TD againt Ohio State last week, and a school-record 100-yard kick return TD against Southern Illinois in the season-opener.
Home at WR: Senior wide receiver 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. He followed that up with 105 yards on eight catches against Ohio State. In the last two games, Hull has 17 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
Ferguson a Dual Threat: Sophomore RB Josh Ferguson ranks second in the nation in receiving yards per game by a running back, averaging 49.8 yards per game (498 yards on 43 receptions, 11.6 ypc). He leads the Illini in rushing yards (554) and touchdowns (9), is second on the team in receiving yards (498), and ranks ninth in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (111.7).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
QB Nathan Scheelhaase needs four total yards to become the second player in school history and 10th player in Big Ten history to amass 10,000 yards of total offense.
Scheelhaase needs to average 299 yards per game through the final two games to break Juice Williams' total yardage school record (10,594).
Scheelhaase is 27 snaps shy of becoming the Illinois all-time leader in career plays. He has been in on 1,747 plays, behind only Juice Williams' UI record of 1,773.
Scheelhaase needs eight rushing yards to become the 16th Illini to rush for 2,000 yards in a career (2nd QB).
Scheelhaase needs 292 passing yards to become the eighth Illini QB to throw for 3,000 yards in a season.
RB Josh Ferguson needs six receiving yards to break Kameno Bell's single-season school record for receiving yards by a running back (503). Currently second on the list, Ferguson has 498 receiving yards out of the backfield this season.
Ferguson needs 82 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for his career. He would join Scheelhaase (1,992) and junior RB Donovonn Young (1,374) as career 1,000-yard rushers on the current squad.
BATTLE FOR THE CANNON
This week, Illinois and Purdue will play for the coveted "Cannon." Purdue leads the traditional trophy series by a 32-26-2 mark.
The "Cannon," more accurately known as the Purdue Cannon, made its first trip to Champaign-Urbana in 1905 when a group of Purdue students brought it to fire after a Boilermaker victory. Purdue won the game, 29-0, but the Cannon was never fired. Illinois student Quincy Hall found the Cannon hidden near the old Illinois Field. Hall and a group of Delta Upsilon brothers confiscated the Cannon and held it until 1943, when they donated it as a symbol of the UI-Purdue rivalry. Tomahawk Service and Leadership honorary at Purdue and Illini Pride of Illinois maintain the trophy when the respective school has won it. The Cannon was last fired Nov. 4, 2001, at the Illinois football complex following the victory, but is no longer functional.
PURDUE SERIES NOTES
Saturday's game marks the 89th meeting between the Illini and Boilers, dating back to 1890. The series with Purdue is the oldest in Illinois' 122-year history. Purdue was one of two teams that Illinois played in its inaugural year of college football (the other was Illinois Wesleyan).
Illinois leads the overall series 42-40-6 but Purdue holds a 21-19-4 margin in games played in West Lafayette. The Boilers have won the last four, and five of the last six, played at Ross-Ade Stadium, dating back to 1998. In the overall series, Purdue has won seven of the last eight meetings and 10 of the last 13, dating back to 1994.
In the last matchup in West Lafayette, the Boilers grabbed a 21-14 victory in 2011, upsetting the No. 23 Fighting Illini. Purdue led 21-0 at halftime and recovered an on-side kick by the Illini with 54 seconds remaining to salt away the victory.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman has a 1-2 record versus the Boilers, 0-1 as the Illini's leader and 1-1 at Toledo. Beckman's Rockets dropped a 52-36 defeat in West Lafayette in 2009 before upsetting the Boilers 31-20 at Ross-Ade Stadium in 2010. Beckman and Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell both coached in the Mid-American Conference in 2011, with Beckman at Toledo and Hazell at Kent State, but the teams did not face each other that season.
HIGHLIGHTS AGAINST THE BOILERMAKERS
The Last Meeting
November 17, 2012
In three career games against Purdue, QB Nathan Scheelhaase
has completed 60-of-93 passes (64.5 percent) for 572 yards and four touchdowns. He also has rushed for 216 yards and two TDs against the Boilers, including a 118-yard game in 2010 and 76 yards on the ground in 2012. He had 313 total yards (195 passing, 118 rushing) and a then-career high four touchdown passes in the 2010 win over Purdue. His 80-percent completion percentage (16-of-20) and 227.9 QB rating from the 2010 game both remain career highs. In his career, Scheelhaase is averaging 262.7 total yards (190.7 passing, 72.0 rushing) against the Boilers.
LB Jonathan Brown
shared the Illini lead with eight tackles in the 2010 game and added 11 tackles and a half-TFL in 2011, giving him 19 tackles and 1.5 TFLs in his career against Purdue. He missed last year's game against Purdue with an injury.
PK Taylor Zalewski
made a career-long 54-yard field goal, the third-longest in school history, in the 2012 game against Purdue.
LB Mason Monheim
and STAR Mike Svetina
each had seven tackles and one TFL against Purdue in 2012.
CB Eaton Spence
recorded his first career sack and TFL against Purdue in 2012.
WR Justin Hardee
tied a career high with five catches against Purdue in 2012.
WHOSE HOUSE? SCHEEL-HOUSE
Senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase surpassed the 8,000 career passing yard barrier with 288 yards passing against Ohio State on Saturday. He now has 8,004 career passing yards for his career, and needs 34 more passing yards to surpass Juice Williams for third on Illinois' all-time passing list.
He is the only active player in the nation with over 8,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards. He is 10th among active FBS players in career total yards with 9,996.
Scheelhaase is four yards of total offense away from becoming the 10th player in Big Ten history and second player in school history with 10,000 career yards of total offense. He needs to average 299 yards of total offense per game over the last two games to become Illinois' career total offense leader.
He also is eight yards shy of becoming the second quarterback in school history with 2,000 career rushing yards (Juice Williams; 2,557 yards; 2006-09).
Scheelhaase connected on his 50th career touchdown pass on Saturday, a 19-yard strike to former roommate Steve Hull in the second quarter. He is the fourth player in school history to record at least 50 career touchdown passes. After another TD pass in the second half, Scheelhaase has 51 career TD passes and 17 scoring strikes this season, equaling his career-high set in 2010.
Scheelhaase ranks second on the Illinois career completions list (720), third in career attempts (1,156) and fourth in career passing efficiency (129.12), career touchdown passes (51) and career passing yardage (8,004). See page 13 to track Scheelhaase's ascent up several UI career lists.
Scheelhaase completed a career-high 38-of-57 passes for a career-high 450 yards at Indiana on Nov. 9. It marked the fifth-best passing yardage total in school history and the third-most completions in a game in UI history.
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)
Scheelhaase has blown past his 2012 season totals in virtually every passing category, while improving his completion percentage by nearly five points and his passing efficiency by nearly 35 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 120-of-165 (72.7 percent) passes on first down for 1,483 yards and eight touchdowns and a 158.17 passing efficiency rating. He ranks sixth in the nation in first-down completion percentage among QBs with 100 or more first-down attempts, and has 16 plays of 25-plus yards on first down, ninth-most in FBS.
Scheelhaase has 21 first-half plays of 25-plus-yards, tied for fifth-most in FBS with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and behind only Baylor's Bryce Petty (31), Clemson's Tajh Boyd (25), Oregon's Marcus Mariota (24) and San Jose State's David Fales (22).
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 10 games this season, Scheelhaase now has 46 career starts under his belt, the third-most in the nation by a quarterback behind only Georgia's Aaron Murray (51) and Troy's Corey Robinson (47).
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).
Scheelhaase has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District first team and a finalist for the prestigous Wuerffel Award 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 continues to lead the Big Ten with 94 tackles and ranks 29th in the nation at 9.4 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 11.5 TFLs this season, ranking fourth in the Big Ten, and giving him 42.0 TFLs in his career. That total ties him for third on the UI career TFLs list with Illini great Fred Wakefield.
Brown was 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 12)
|Name, School||G||Tackles||TPG (NR)||TFL||TFL/G (NR)||Sacks||QBH||PD||FF|
|Brown, ILL||10||88||9.4 (29)|| 11.5||1.15 (32)|| 4.0||2||4||1
|Shazier, OSU||10||88||8.9 (42)||14.5||1.45 (9)||4.5||5||1||3|
|Borland, WIS||9||80||8.9 (44)||7.0||0.78 (-)||4.0||4||2||0|
|Hitchens, Iowa||10|| 87||8.7 (50)|| 10.0||1.00 (81)|| 2.0||1|| 1||1|
|Morris, Iowa||10||81||8.1 (81)||10.0||1.00 (81)||5.0||0||5||1|
|Allen, MSU||10||62||6.2 (-)||11.5||1.15 (32)||5.0||7||1||0
|Bullough, MSU||10||61||6.1 (-)||7.0||0.70 (-)||1.0||10||2||1
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 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 huge 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.
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 (49.8 ypg) and also leads the Illini in rushing yards (554) and touchdowns (nine total: five rushing and four receiving).
Ferguson needs just six receiving yards to break Kameno Bell's Illinois record for most receiving yards in a season by a running back (503).
Ferguson is averaging 105.2 scrimmage yards per game (55.4 rushing, 49.8 receiving), which ranks 50th nationally and eighth 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.
Complete Illinois-Purdue Game Notes