Iowa Invades Memorial Stadium
Kickoff: 11:10 a.m. CT . . . Site: Memorial Stadium (70,904, AstroTurf), Champaign, Ill. . . . Expected Attendance: 40,000.
Illini Sports Network, 54 stations (WDWS-AM 1400/WHMS-FM 97.5 in Champaign, WSCR-AM 1160 in Chicago, WFUN-FM 95.5 in St. Louis) . . . Jim Turpin, play-by-play; Jim Grabowski, color analyst; David James, sideline.
ESPN-Regional . . . Wayne Larrivee, play-by-play; Randy Wright, color; Jim Barbar, sideline.
A LOOK AT THE COACHES
RON TURNER 1-13 in second season at Illinois, 8-17 overall in two seasons as a college head coach, 0-1 vs. Iowa. Turner was the offensive coordinator of the NFL's Chicago Bears for four years before coming to Illinois. Prior to Chicago, Turner was head coach at San Jose State and served as an assistant coach at Stanford, Texas A&M, USC, Pitt, Northwestern, Arizona and Pacific. He was a two-year letterwinner as a WR at Pacific.
HAYDEN FRY 141-83-6 in his 20th season at Iowa, 230-172-10 in his 37th season overall as a collegiate head coach. Fry is only the sixth coach in Big Ten Conference history to coach 20 or more seasons, a list featuring Amos Alonzo Stagg (37, Chicago), Bob Zuppke (29, Illinois), Woody Hayes (28, OSU), Henry Williams (22, Minnesota) and Bo Schembechler (21, UM). Fry has led the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten titles (1981, 1985, 1990). Fry was the head coach at SMU (1962-72) and North Texas State (1973-78) before coming to Iowa City in 1979. Fry is 10-8 vs. Illinois and has won the last two meetings.
Illinois leads 35-23-2 dating to 1899. Illinois holds an 18-9 series lead in Champaign, but Iowa has won three of the last four meetings at Memorial Stadium.
in Champaign: Illinois leads 18-9
in Iowa City: Illinois leads 17-13-2
in neutral sites: Iowa leads 1-0
Ron Turner vs. Iowa: 0-1
Hayden Fry vs. Illinois: 10-8 (9-8 at Iowa, 1-0 at SMU)
Longest Illini streak: 12 (1942-67)
Longest Hawkeye streak: 3 (1968-70; 1990-92)
Last 10 years: Iowa 5-4
Last game: Iowa 38, Illinois 10 (9/27/97 at Iowa City)
IOWA QUICK FACTS
1997 record: 7-5 (4-4/6th in Big Ten)
1997 bowl: Sun Bowl, Arizona State, L, 7-17
Offensive system: Multiple
Defensive system: 5-2
1998 results: 9/5 - W, 38-0 vs. Central Michigan; 9/12 - L, 27-9 vs. Iowa State; 9/19 - L, 35-11 at Arizona.
KITTNER: FIRST COLLEGE START
True freshman QB Kurt Kittner makes his first Illinois start vs. Iowa, the first true frosh to start at QB for the Illini since Bernie Krueger vs. Northwestern (11/23/46). In the last 20 years, four redshirt frosh have started at QB (Rich Weiss, 1978; Brian Menkhausen, 1986; Scott Weaver, 1993; Tim Lavery, 1997).
MORE ON KITTNER
Kittner rattled off a 61-yard TD run, the second longest TD run by an Illini QB in history, bested only by Gil Berry vs. Chicago in 1932. Kittner rushed for 65 yards on eight carries, the highest UI QB rushing total since Weiss gained 106 yard vs. Wisconsin in 1978. In the 1970's (The Decade of the Running QB), only Weiss and Mike Wells (105 vs. Northwestern in 1972) topped Kittner's rushing total.
KITTNER: NOT TOO RUSTY
Kittner was 9-27 for 74 yards, including a 22-yard strike to Michael Dean with 65 rushing yards on eight carries. Not counting his kneeldown against Middle Tennessee, Kittner had not played QB in a year since breaking his thumb as a senior at Schaumburg H.S. In 3+ games as a senior, Kittner had already thrown for 1,200 yards for the Saxons. He played LB for the rest of the season with a cast.
Illinois looks to end a 14-game Big Ten Conference losing streak, including seven league home losses in a row . . . Iowa is looking to match its longest win streak in the series as the Hawkeyes have won the last two meetings . . . Iowa has won three of the last four games in Champaign, including 1990 showdown for Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth . . . QB Kurt Kittner is first true frosh UI QB since Bernie Krueger in 1946 . . . Steve Havard (302 yards) and Rocky Harvey (301 yards) have become powerful inside-outside duo for Illini ground game . . . UI has 14 first-year players on this week's two-deep.
ROCKY: MR. OUTSIDE
One week after rushing into the Illinois record book, true freshman Rocky Harvey came right back with 86 yards on 17 carries, including a 17-yarder scamper to lead the UI ground game. Harvey set an Illinois freshman single-game record with 215 yards and three TDs in 24 carries vs. MTSU. In three games (he played two plays against Washington State), Harvey has 301 yards on 41 carries (7.3 average).
Harvey also moved to kickoff return and electrified the Memorial Stadium crowd with a 77-yard return down the west sideline late in the game. Harvey also returned four punts after junior Terrance Smalls was knocked out of the game with an early hit on a punt return.
STEVE: MR. INSIDE
Junior HB Steve Havard leads Harvey by one yard (302 on 58 carries) for the UI team rushing lead through three games, despite being held to 24 yards in 10 carries vs. Louisville. Havard topped the 100-yard mark in the first two games, gaining 175 yards and scoring two TDs on 24 carries vs. MTSU after gaining 103 yards on 24 carries with one TD at Washington State. Havard, who hails from the same hometown (Wheaton) as legendary "Red" Grange, had 187 yards on 40 carries in 17 career games entering the 1998 season.
BIG TEN OPENERS
Illinois is 45-51-6 (.471) in Big Ten openers dating to 1896. The Illini have dropped four consecutive league lidlifters since bouncing Purdue, 28-10 in 1993.
LONGEST UI HOMESTAND SINCE 1994
Illinois wraps up a three-game homestand vs. Iowa, the longest Illinois home stretch since opening the 1994 season with four consecutive home dates (1 game @ Soldier Field, 3 games @ Memorial Stadium). Illinois played six of its first seven games at home in 1994 and will play five of its first six in one of college football's historic landmarks in 1998.
TWO-DEEP UNDERLINES TURNAROUND
In this week's two-deep depth chart, Illinois features 14 players who are completing their first season wearing the Orange and Blue, including four true freshman (QB, HB, FS, P), five redshirt frosh and five junior college transfers.
ROUND UP THE RECEIVERS
The Illini have juggled the receiver corps on the depth chart this week, moving junior college transfer Larry Davis to starting split end ahead of Michael Dean and juco William Loyd is now the back-up to fellow juco Terrance Smalls at flanker.
ABDULLAH MOVES INTO LINEUP
With the knee injury to starting FS Mike Gusich, true freshman Muhammad Abdullah moves into the starting lineup after making four tackles in extended action vs. Louisville.
PUNTER GIVING THEM FITTS
True freshman P Steve Fitts had a busy afternoon vs. Louisville, punting 11 times for 407 yards (37.0 average) with a 49-yarder. Fitts' 11 punts is the seventh-highest single-game total in UI history, matching Ryan Tabloff's 11 boots vs. Iowa last season. For the season, Fitts is averaging an even 40 yards per boot in 22 attempts with five inside the 20-yard line.
RACKERS HITS ANOTHER 40+ FG
Jr. PK Neil Rackers hit a 43-yard FG vs. Louisville, the longest UI FG at Memorial Stadium since Bret Scheuplein drilled a 44-yarder vs. Minnesota in 1995. Rackers is 3-5 on FGs this season, missing his first attempt of the season (36) and just missing wide right on a 53-yard attempt vs. Louisville. Rackers is 1-2 from 30-39 and 2-2 from 40-49 this season. He has also hit 7-8 extra points.
"RON TURNER SHOW" ROARS ON...
The "Ron Turner Show" continues its second season on the 54-station Illini Sports Network from 6:05-7 p.m. with host Jim Turpin. The "Ron Turner Show" will move to a different campus location each week with tonight's show at Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. Locally, the show can be heard on WDWS-AM 1400. The show is open to the public and features a ticket trivia contest. Here is the schedule for the next six weeks:
Sept. 21 Alpha Gamma Delta
Sept. 28 Koinonia House
Oct. 5 Beta Sigma Psi
Oct. 12 Kappa Delta
Oct. 19 Alpha Tau Omega
Oct. 26 Sigma Alpha Mu
"RON TURNER TV SHOW" AIRS SUNDAY
The "Ron Turner Show," a half-hour weekly television highlights show featuring Coach Turner and host Chris Widlic, airs locally Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WCIA, Channel 3. The show can also be seen on Fox Sports Chicago Tuesdays at 3 p.m. and Friday mornings (time TBA). Consult your local listings.
OUT -- LB Eric Guenther (knee), FS Mike Gusich (knee), DE Tim McGill (knee); DOUBTFUL -- DE Fred Wakefield (virus); DT Joe Lauzen (mono); QUESTIONABLE -- None; PROBABLE -- None.
A QUICK "I" ON THE ILLINI
OFFENSIVE LINE -- Five starters combined for 36 starts last season (R. Schau & Sullivan, 11; Redziniak 7; Machado 4, T. Schau 3) and all have started first 3 games . . . All backups have seen some game action in first 3 games, including juco transfer Matt Carlton at LG, jr. OT Chip Nicastro and a trio of redshirt frosh in C (Luke Butkus, nephew of Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus), RG (Jay Kulaga), and Dan Cutter. . . Kulaga also blocks on extra points and field goals.
QUARTERBACK -- Fr. Kurt Kittner makes his first start vs. Iowa after passing for 74 yards and running for 65 vs. Louisville . . . Sr. Mark Hoekstra opened 3-4 vs. Louisville before missing last five attempts . . . Kittner replaced Hoekstra on first play of second quarter . . . Hoekstra is 26-69 (37.7%) for 268 yards with four picks and 0 TDs in first three games. . . True frosh Kurt Kittner from Schaumburg H.S. threw for more than 1,200 yards in 3+ games as a h.s. senior before breaking his thumb . . . Kittner returned to play LB for remainder of senior season . . . Kittner made UI debut with one-yard kneeldown vs. MTSU.
RUNNING BACK -- Fr. Rocky Harvey gained 86 yards on 17 carries to lead UI for 2nd straight game . . . Jr. Steve Havard leads Illini with 302 yards rushing, Harvey is closed 2nd with 301 yards (7.3 avg. per carry) . . . Harvey was the 1997 Chicago Sun-Times Illinois Prep Player of the Year . . . Harvey rushed for 7,395 yards and 107 TDs in three varsity seasons at Dunbar H.S., gaining 2,129 yards with 26 TDs as a sophomore, 2,636 yards with 41 TDs as a junior and 2,630 yards and 40 TDs as a senior. He ended his Dunbar career as the all-time IHSA leader in career rushing and TDs.
FULLBACK -- Illinois opened with Steve Havard in the same backfield as Rocky Harvey vs. Louisville, but also look for converted LB Chris Hoffman, a ferocious blocker who also caught two passes vs. Louisville and jr. Elmer Hickman. Hoffman is a two-year letterman at LB who moved to FB during spring drills.
SPLIT END -- Juco Larry Davis will make his first start, backed up by jr. SE Michael Dean, who caught five passes for 71 yards vs. Louisville and leads UI with 11 catches for 171 yards. Davis caught two passes vs. UL.
FLANKER -- Juco Terrance Smalls is the starter, catching seven passes for 49 yards in first three games . . . Juco William Loyd moves into two-deep for first time . . . Loyd missed several practice days clearing up academic issues but has made up ground and will see action vs. Iowa.
TIGHT END -- Soph. Josh Whitman, who played in all 11 games as a true frosh, and redshirt frosh and converted QB Brian Hodges battle for the starting job, backed up by soph. Mike Cracioniou (pronounced "Crass-ih-noy") . . . Whitman and Hodges started in two tight end set vs. MTSU, catching a combined three passes for 27 yards . . . Whitman is Academic A-A candidate with 3.96 GPA in Business. . . Hodges made his first UI start vs. WSU. DEFENSE
DEFENSIVE END -- Senior DE Jeff Weisse set a school record with six TFLs vs. MTSU and leads DE with 14 tackles, 6 TFLs, 3.5 sacks and a QB hurry . . . Rameel Connor has made 3 starts after missing last season with torn ACL and has 12 stops with 5 TFLs . . . Jason Eberhart has started all 3 games in place of Fred Wakefield, who has returned to portions of practice after missing 2 weeks with virus . . . Eberhart had 4 solos vs. UL.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE -- Sr. Garrett Johnson picked up his team-leading 7th TFL vs. Louisville and is off to hot start with 20 tackles, including 16 solos, along with 7 TFLs, 3 sacks and a fumble recovery vs. WSU . . . Johnson led the Illini defense vs. MTSU with nine tackles, including six solos, four TFLs and two QB sacks . . . Johnson also had seven solo tackles in WSU game with three TFLs and a fumble recovery . . . Mike McGee had four tackles vs. Wash. St., five vs. MTSU and 3 vs. UL . . . Karleton Thomas, who played DE last year, had 3 stops vs. UL.
LINEBACKER -- '97 honorable mention All-Big Ten "Will" LB Danny Clark leads Illini with 26 stops, including 21 solos, along with 3 TFLs, 2 PBUs and an outstanding strip and recovery vs. WSU. . . Clark had 12 tackles, including 9 solos vs. UL. . . Clark had eight solos, one TFL and forced and recovered a fumble vs. WSU . . . Senior MLB Eric Guenther, a three-year letterwinner, had a career-high 15 tackles, including 9 solos vs. UL but is out with a left knee injury. . . Guenther has lettered his first three seasons and has not used a medical redshirt season. . . He had seven stops vs. WSU but missed MTSU game with sore hamstring . . . Soph. Robert Franklin, who can play any of the 3 spots with two tackles vs. WSU and six vs. MTSU, making the start in place of Guenther . . . Franklin will move into starting MLB role . . . Soph. Eric Garrett, who played FB last fall, returned to LB this year and had three tackles and one TFL vs. MTSU . . . Soph. Mondrian Long is an accomplished sketch artist who showed his art at Krannert Art Museum last year.
DEFENSIVE BACK -- Jr. Asim Pleas led the Illini with nine tackles vs. WSU, including seven solos . . . Pleas made five stops vs. MTSU and scored the 2nd TD of his career with 89-yard interception return, the fifth-longest in Memorial Stadium history . . . Pleas made it 2 in a row with pick vs. Louisville . . . First name, Asim, is Swahili for "Protector" . . . Fr. Anthony Hurd, who missed all of last season with knee injury, made most of first career start with career-high 7 tackles, 6 solos and first career interception . . . 6-2 jr. Tony Francis is tallest UI DB.
SAFETY -- True soph. strong safety Bobby Jackson had big numbers game vs. Louisville with 8 tackles, including 6 solos with 1 TFL and 3 passes broken up . . . Jackson has made 15 tackles in 1998 with 12 solos . . . He made four tackles, including three solos, vs. WSU and had three tackles vs. MTSU . . . Jackson, who started the last five games last season, is an outstanding student who is wavering toward Business/Advertising career after talking about becoming an Astronaut last fall . . .Academic All-American candidate free safety Mike Gusich (3.7 GPA in Finance) picked off WSU QB Steve Birnbaum for his second career interception, returning it 19 yards, but injured his knee vs. Louisville and is out of the lineup . . . Gusich will be replaced in strating lineup by true frosh Muhammad Abdullah, a native of Barnegat, New Jersey . . . Another backup is veteran and outstanding UI scholar in Ivan Benson (3.5 in Advertising, Arthur Ashe Scholar-Athlete Award).
PUNTER/KICKER -- True frosh and South Carolina native Steve Fitts is averaging an even 40 yards per punt in 22 attempts. . . . Fitts had a 43.6 yard average in eight kicks vs. WSU, including a 53-yarder. . . He also put two punts inside the 20-yard line and had a 39.9 net punting average . . . Fitts came back vs. MTSU with a 41.7 average on three punts . . . His father, Steve, was kicker at Clemson . . . Jr. Neil Rackers hit a career-best 46-yard FG vs. WSU, also connecting from 36 yards and missing his first attempt of '98 from 36 yards . . . Rackers delivered a 43-yarder vs. Louisville . . . Rackers' previous best was 42 yards vs. Indiana in 1996 . . . He also matched a career high with two FGs made in one game . . . Rackers hit 6-7 extra points vs. MTSU and is 7-8 XPT and 3-5 FG in 1998 after going 5-10 FG and 10-11 XPT last fall . . . Rackers and Fitts are also the backups at P and PK. . . Soph. Nathan Hodel is the snapper and Hoekstra is the holder.
KICKOFF/PUNT RETURNS -- WRs Larry Davis and Terrance Smalls return kickoffs with HB Harvey moving into kick return lineup vs. Louisville with thrilling 77-yard return . . . Smalls handled punt return duties in first 3 games before leaving with injury vs. UL . . . Harvey finished up vs. UL, handling 4 punts flawlessly.