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July 27, 2011
The 4th Quarter is a no-holds-barred hodgepodge of news, opinion and random musings from the Orange&BlueNews staff, subscribers and guests to the site. Enjoy.
4th Quarter Play-By-Play
Doug Bucshon at 15:00
Derek Dimke kickoff for 70 yards
Orange&BlueNews has talked with both coordinators in the last couple of weeks, Paul Petrino and Vic Koenning, and we have a pretty good idea what the top position battles are going to be when the Illini take the field at Camp Rantoul.
On offense, there is some drama at running back where a fire has been lit under senior Jason Ford. Freshmen Donovonn Young from Katy (Tx.) has ability, and the buzz is that he will push for early playing time. We won't know that for sure until we see him in pads, however. Our pick? Jason Ford.
At tight end, it's not so much as a battle for the starting spot, where we believe sophomore Evan Wilson will be the guy. But it is a position where some very good athletes and playmakers are coming into the program in freshmen Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse. As the season progresses, look for those two to have opportunities to make things happen on the field.
A.J. Jenkins is coming off a season in which he caught 56 passes for 746 yards, and he will once again be the #1 option for quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. But who is the second receiver?. First, we think more passes will be thrown to the tight end and full back spots in the short passing game. At wideout, there are plenty of athletes, but not a lot of experience. So .our pick? Speedy sophomore Darius Millines.
Corey Lewis is eventually the starter at right tackle, but questions loom concerning his re-injured knee. If Lewis isn't ready to face Arkansas St. on Sep. 3, someone is will have to step up. Our pick is redshirt freshman Michael Heitz. Heitz gained strength and bulk in his redshirt season, and shared time with classmate Simon Cvijanovic in the spring.
Sophomore Jonathan Brown and redshirt freshmen Houston Bates are the candidates at the SAM linebacker spot. Koenning said they will likely rotate the two of them, depending on the game situation. Who starts? Jonathan Brown, though Bates will get plenty of reps in camp.
pass intercepted by Terry Hawthorne
Chris Nee at 13:43
Under Ron Zook, Illinois has always been heavily involved with recruiting prospects from Florida. So far the Illini have landed one prospect from the Sunshine State in Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar safety TaJarvis Fuller. Fuller is a hard hitting safety with good size. He enjoyed a summer visit to Champaign and pledged while on campus. That being said, expect him to take a few visits during the fall as he keeps his options open. If the Miami Hurricanes were to offer, he would immediately switch to remain closer to home.
As for targets in the Sunshine State, Zook and company have offered nearly 60 prospects in the state for 2012. They are in good standing with a few of those prospects. Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) running back Roshard Burney remains "real interested" in Illinois. Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast wide receiver Jeremy Glinton, who claims nearly 20 offers, says the Illini are really high on his list and that he likes them a lot. In fact, he tried to pledge to Illinois earlier in the process. Homestead (Fla.) South Dade running back Torry Clayton says that they are top dog amongst his offers, but he is hoping for more offers to come through during his senior season. Orlando (Fla.) Lake High Prep safety Taylor Barton also recently visited and will heavily consider the Illini.
Some Sunshine State prospects who I expect to visit Illinois this season include Fuller's teammate, defensive tackle Christian Brown. Also, Orange Park (Fla.) athlete Erick Hayward, Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage linebacker Zach Slafsky, and Fruit Cove (Fla.) Bartram Trail wide receiver Bobby Walker. Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge athlete Guito Ervilus is another prospect that regularly expresses an interest in Illinois and has said he wants to visit. Orlando (Fla.) Colonial athlete Jeremy Gloston says that his interest in Illinois is high, stating that they are at an "8 out of 10" for him, with 10 being the best.
Chris Nee is the State of Florida Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com.
"Considering the institution's rules education and monitoring efforts, the enforcement staff did not believe a failure to monitor charge was appropriate in this case."
The prudent thing to do is to withhold judgment until the NCAA announces the penalties it will place on Ohio State for it's now infamous memorabilia and tattoos scandal. But my initial reaction to letter the NCAA sent to Ohio State was well, it just boggles the mind.
Not that I have any personal stake in seeing Ohio State nailed with tough penalties - and in fact I think it would be bad for the Big Ten conference overall. But I also don't want the integrity of the game to continue to take a beating (see Oregon scandal). Who among college football fans still believe the top dogs are clean? Perception is reality. It's not as bad as the steroid scandal in baseball, in which every player during that era has their production questioned. But it's not far behind.
What constitutes "failure to monitor" in the first place? In the eyes of the NCAA, it is apparently good enough to have monitoring standards in place; you don't actually have to implement them properly. The school had a program in place for educating their student athletes on rules against selling memorabilia and accepting gifts. They didn't actually brief the athletes until many of the rules were already broken, but the program was in place. Good enough.
The problems at Ohio State under Jim Tressel ran much deeper than free tats. In a shocking, shocking report last week, ESPN reported that Tressel had a history of compliance issues at Ohio State. In 2005, the athletic director told Tressel that he had to do a better job monitoring the cars his players were driving. Wow, way to get tough. That's showing him.
News came out this week that Ohio State banned Terrell Pryor. Well whoop-de-doo. Did Ohio State officials, alumni, and boosters, like Mary Shelly's Dr. Frankenstein, create Jim Tressel and Terrell Pryor then seek to destroy them when things didn't go to plan? People can decide for themselves I guess.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 10:13
From an article for ESPN:
"When I coached for the Clippers, I had to deal with Michael Olowokandi, a player who perfectly fit the description "talented but uncoachable." At practice, I would attempt to point out Mr. Olowokandi's faults to him, ones he constantly repeated and resulted in lost possessions for the team or personal fouls that sent him to the bench. His reaction to my attempts to correct his bad habits was to take my input as a personal insult and embarrassment. He told me point-blank that he would not be criticized in front of the team. He stuck to his word and, as a result, had very few successful moments on the court playing the way he wanted to play. He took his place on the list of athletically gifted washouts who have been in and out of the league in the past 10 years."
Jeremy Werner at 8:32
The best players should play, regardless of class. That won't start a grand debate here.
But when we talk about quarterbacks, some assume there's more strategy involved (i.e redshirt the freshman quarterback so you don't lose a possible year as a starter).
But the Illinois coaching staff threw that theory out the window last year when they inserted freshman signal caller Miles Osei during garbage time of a Week 2 blowout win over Southern Illinois despite Eddie McGee serving as the primary backup. Instead of redshirting, Osei played in two more games and finished the season with five rushing attempts for 12 yards and one pass attempt, an incompletion.
So don't assume freshman Reilly O'Toole will spend the entire year holding the clipboard, charting passes for Osei and starter Nathan Scheelhaase. Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said there will be an open competition for the No. 2 spot.
"That'll be a big competition, and a lot of it will be to see what Reilly can do and what he can handle," Petrino said. "Miles got a lot of reps in the spring, a lot of work last year. So it'll be good. Competition's a good thing.
"I think at every position, if they're ready to play, you play 'em. If they're not, you redshirt 'em. I think you want them all thinking they're going to play because then they work harder."
Eddie McGee pass intercepted at the 41, returned for 59 yards for a TOUCHDOWN
Same Estes at 5:49
60,600. No, that's not the amount of Illinois message-boarders checking their computer every minute for the next Jabari Parker update - it's the new number for the total occupancy of Memorial Stadium. Yes, the renovations have been nice. State-of-the-art luxury seating, a larger-than-life weight room, relocated student section and a new press box aren't additions that should go unnoticed. These expensive updates were long overdue for a venue that was being passed by other Big Ten football arenas. BUT what happened to all the fans? With the recent destruction of the rickety bleacher seats that were attached to the horseshoe, Memorial Stadium has lost yet another 2,000+ rowdy orange-clad fans on Saturday afternoons next fall. Yes, those seats were a safety hazard that needed to be taken care of, but still
The longstanding stadium has seen its fair share of fans - the single-game attendance record stands at 78, 297 for a game against Missouri in 1984 and it once packed in 80,000 Midwesterners in 1985 to celebrate the inaugural "Farm Aid." But now, after the Illini take home their first bowl victory in over a decade, we're going back down to 60,000? Something doesn't seem right with that. Other Big Ten schools - namely Penn State and Michigan - recently went through major stadium renovations, but the two largest stadiums in the country somehow managed to come out with MORE seating than before the renovations took place. Even though it didn't make a lick of sense (because of Illinois' current stadium capacity), you have to admit it hurt a little to read Rick Reilly's recent article that poked fun at Illinois for having less fans at their average home game last season than Nebraska did for their '11 spring game.
Being the homer that I am, Memorial Stadium will continue to be one of my all-time favorite football venues. The old brown-bricked site comes to life for every home game in the fall. The tailgating, Three In One, and the Block I card stunts are just a few of the traditions that all Illini fans should - no NEED - to experience. It's just a shame more Illini faithful won't be taking all this in next season.
Doug Bucshon at 3:17
Speaking of Camp Rantoul, Orange&BlueNews will be on hand for the entire camp providing pictures, interviews, and in depth analysis of the practices. The SID released the practice schedule on Tuesday (check the Orange Crush 'Em Board). Players report on Aug. 3, and have three workouts in Champaign Aug. 4-6 before heading up to Rantoul. Media day is on the 7th. Fan appreciation day is set for Saturday, Aug 27. Look for a static web page on the site dedicated to Camp Rantoul, with links to the days pictures and stories. We will also be tweeting from the camp, so keep an eye out for that as well.
pass intercepted by Jonathan Brown at the Illin 34, returned for 66 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.
Derek Dimke extra point GOOD.
Sean Callahan at 2:12
It's hard to remember a more anticipated season for the Nebraska football team. There is such a sense of excitement about NU's move to the Big Ten Conference, yet a bigger sense of the unknown. The chance to travel to 11 new venues, along with several more attractive bowl destinations has Husker nation in a frenzy. Between 20,000 and 25,000 people sent official inquiries to the University for tickets to the Wisconsin game in Madison alone.
The biggest question though remains how NU will match-up against a different conference. Over the last few years Nebraska closed the gap on Texas and Oklahoma and proved they could compete against the Big 12's elite programs. The pieces are definitely in place for the Huskers to win the Legends Division, but the schedule is going to be challenging and allow for very little margin of error.
On paper, Nebraska has the best defense in the Big Ten led by players like Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Dennard. The fate of this season is on how the offense comes together under new offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
Sean Callahan is the publisher of HuskerOnline.com.
Brad Sturdy at :32
As the July period comes to a close, the 20 day marathon shows in the legs of the players and eyes of the coaches. Next year that may change a bit. Obviously, it's a crazy set up when coach has to take a redeye overnight from Las Vegas to Orlando and then be in the gym at 8AM, which is what Bruce Weber did a couple days ago. However, if they change the set up to be 3 4 day periods on weekends next year, will that change anything? Sure, the players get to recoup a bit, but the Sunday games will still be an issue.
The coaches will still have to fly cross country to see the next great player. It's called the evaluation period, and in some cases it's true, but for the most part it's a recruiting period where coaches try to be seen. Heck, so far this July Eric Gordon, Zach Randolph and Deron Williams have come to events to watch the action. That's smart recruiting, but it's a silly system. Open up two weekends in the spring, then two 4 day periods in July, and go with that. It lets coaches see kids sooner and gets rid of the July marathon. Kids are seen sooner, coaches can better evaluate them and the kids are fresh when they play.
As August 6th approaches, and the alumni game, the Illini have such a great opportunity. Most schools are trying to get kids to midnight madness, and they have to fight with all of the other schools. However, this event could be a chance to show off former greats like Deron Williams and Luther Head, as well as Dee Brown and Roger Powell. And there is very little competition for them. This could be a huge event.
Derek Dimke 28 yard field goal GOOD.
End of 4th Quarter
Former Illini sign as free agents
With the NFL lockout officially over, teams were free to sign undrafted free agents. Several former Illini signed on with NFL franchises this week.
Receiver Jarred Fayson signed with the New Orleans Saints, where he joins former teammates Martez Wilson and Nate Bussey.
Eddie McGee, who played both quarterback and wide receiver at Illinois, signed on with the Raiders. The Rams picked up offensive lineman Randall Hunt and cornerback Travon Bellamy. Defensive end Clay nurse caught on with the New England Patriots.
Baseball HOF class of 2011
Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven are inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But what about players from the steroid era? Mark McGwire received 19.8% of the vote, while first year candidate Rafael Palmeiro received 11%. Both players got enough support to remain on the ballot next year. But do they deserve to be in the hall? Obviously, they have the numbers. My take if you aren't going to remove their statistics from the record books, then they should be in the Hall of Fame. The same goes for Pete Rose. The all time hit leader should be in.
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