Big Plays Highlight Two-Hour Scrimmage
Illini gridders go live in front of 1,000 fans in Rantoul - 8/22/98
The Fighting Illini conducted a two-hour live scrimmage this evening at Bill Walsh Field at Rantoul High School in front of more than 1,000 spectators. The night was full of big plays such as freshman Rocky Harvey busting loose for 45 yards and scoring two plays later on a three-yard burst. Freshman quarterback Kurt Kittner hit tight end Brian Hodges for 37 yards and later found George McDonald-Ashford for a 30-yard strike. Senior starting quarterback Mark Hoekstra connected on a 35-yard TD pass to Hodges on the evening's final series and also hooked up with Lenny Willis for a 30-yard completion. Newcomer Connie Moore also looked sharp in his first scrimmage, as did freshman punter Steve Fitts, who boomed 51 and 52-yard punts and averaged 45-50 yards per punt all evening. Fans were also treated to a bigger and quicker defense with safety Bobby Jackson, linebackers Michael Young and Danny Clark and defensive tackle Garrett Johnson drawing raves from the assembled crowd and media members. There were no injuries to report coming out of the scrimmage.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RON TURNER:
"It (the fans) was a great turnout and I was happy to see it. That's what we needed to find out, once the lights came on, the coaches came off the field and there were people in the stands, who is going to do the right things and make plays. Tonight, we had some players do some good things that they hadn't been doing in camp and we had some players do some things negatively that they hadn't done at all during camp. I want to find out that stuff now before we go to Washington State. It was a great environment. Rocky Harvey, Kurt Kittner and Brian Hodges made some plays offensively. On defense, Jeff Weisse, Bobby Jackson, the linebackers and the entire secondary stepped up and made some plays. Steve Fitts punted just like he has kicked throughout camp. We have some athletes, our offense has to raise its level of expectation. Connie Moore has that ability and made some plays tonight. We need to play with the confidence that we have some athletes and some playmakers and come out with a little swagger. Our offense came out like a boxer that was trying to feel a guy out for four or five rounds before deciding it could take the opponent and fight. We need to come out with that swagger that we're a pretty good football team and develop that swagger over the next 13 days."
TOMORROW'S PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
No practice is scheduled. The team will enjoy meetings and rest time, along with chapel and mass services on Sunday morning. There are no player and/or coach interviews scheduled for Sunday.