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Touchdown TIMES A publication of The Daily Illini | Friday, August 31, 2012

A new era beckons Tim Beckman will kick off his career at Illinois on Saturday against a familiar foe

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Friday, August 31, 2012

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Photo of

THE GAME

Editor’s note: This page is a place to run a photo each week that is relevant in some way to the upcoming game. The photo could be from last year’s matchup or the Illini’s game from the previous week — whatever. As long as it gets you ready for this week, it’ll be here. Nathan Scheelhaase passes the ball during the Illini’s 23-20 win over Western Michigan last year at Memorial Stadium.

Nathan Scheelhaase completed 14 of his 20 attempts for 133 yards and one touchdown. But he was picked off once. What are your expectations for Scheelhaase this time around against the Broncos? Sound off on the live blog this Saturday and on our Twitter accounts: @di_sports and @DailyIlliniFB, #illinifootball.

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THE BRONCOS ARE BACK IN TOWN DAILY ILLINI FILE PHOTO

Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase has his helmet twisted around by Western Michigan’s Paul Hazel during last year’s 23-20 Illini win at Memorial Stadium. Scheelhaase said he expects another close game.

After almost sideswiping Illinois last year, Beckman not overlooking old foe BY CHAD THORNBURG STAFF WRITER

T

year,” quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said. “It’s going to be

“Let’s face it, when we play these teams, they’re a lot more

those guys and knows those coaches pretty well,” Scheelhaase said. “He’s been in that conference and been around them so he has helped us out with just what they’re all about.” Beckman is 2-1 against Western Michigan, and Illinois leads the all-time series at 3-1 with all three victories coming at home. Last season, Carder passed for 3,873 yards and 31 touchdowns and will be looking for a big game against an Illinois secondary that may be without top safeties Steve Hull and Suppo Sanni, who both could miss Saturday’s game with lingering injuries. “They’ll be out there practicing, but we’re not going to put a football player on the field unless they’re 100 percent ready to roll,” Beckman said Monday. Both Hull and Sanni were left off the week’s depth chart that was released Monday. Defensive end Justin Staples will also miss the game while serving a one-game suspension. Staples was charged with a DUI last February in Champaign. Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit said during Monday’s MAC coaches teleconference that his players play with a chip on their shoulders against Big Ten opponents.

season, the current Illinois players certainly won’t be underestimating the Broncos. “I’m pretty sure their coach will be telling them, ‘We can beat these guys,” junior defensive tackle Akeem Spence said. “We’ve got to be hungry. We’ve got to take it from them. With the new era starting off, I feel like it’s going to be a real big day for us.”

IM BECKMAN COMES TO ILLINOIS another great game.” highly ranked than what we’ve got,” Cubit said. “But I don’t AFTER THREE YEARS IN THE Scheelhaase said Beckman has shared much of his experi- think that necessarily puts us at a disadvantage. I think we’ve got some good players in the MAC, too.” MID -A M ERICA N CON F ER ENCE ence coaching against Broncos with his team. After nearly upsetting the then-ranked No. 24 Illini last “It’s nice to have that because he’s used to playing against WITH TOLEDO.

But when the Illini take the field in Saturday’s season opener at Memorial Stadium, the head coach will be right back in the conference he left behind. The MAC’s Western Michigan is first up for Illinois. The Broncos gave both Beckman’s Toledo squad and the Illini nearly all they could handle last season. Western Michigan fell to Illinois and Toledo by three points, but that’s just about all the two games had in common. The Rockets defeated the Broncos in a 66-63 shootout, and the Illini overcame a halftime deficit to squeeze out a 23-20 win. While allowing over 60 points or scoring just 23 isn’t Beckman’s ideal outcome for the Illini this weekend, he will just be content to start his Illinois career with a victory. “As long as there’s a ‘W’ up there,” Beckman said. “That’s what we’re seeking.” Like Illinois, the Broncos finished 7-6 after a bowl appearance last season. Western Michigan will bring a potent passing game to Champaign led by senior quarterback Alex Carder, who is arguably the MAC’s best passer. “I think they’re an even better team than they were last

Chad can be reached at thornbu1@dailyillini.com and @cthornburg10.

“We’ve got to be hungry. We’ve got to take it from them. With the new era starting off, I feel like it’s going to be a real big day for us.” AKEEM SPENCE,

junior defensive tackle


Friday, August 31, 2012

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BECKMAN BORN FOR THE BIG TEN After a lifetime of preparation, new coach ready for 1st game BY JAMAL COLLIER STAFF WRITER

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hen Tim Beckman runs onto the field at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, it will be the culmination of eight months since being named head football coach at Illinois. In many ways, his first game as a Big Ten coach is something Beckman has worked his whole life for. He said he’s been waiting for this day since he was in a crib. “Words are probably not going to be able to express the feeling that I’ll have,” Beckman said. He’ll walk from First Street with the team through the early tailgaters at Street Fest around 8:45 a.m. without the presence of his daughter, Lindsay Beckman — the first walk he’s completed without her. She’s walked with him during his days at Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Toledo. But she enrolled as a freshman at Toledo this fall and, as he put it, she’s a grown girl now; however, Beckman will be able to look over and see his parents sitting in the stands cheering him on. “We’re really excited. I mean, this coaching staff, this football team, I can’t say enough about the excitement that’s fi lling the air about opening week, opening season of football,” Beckman said. “You can smell it in the air, as they say.” He said he doesn’t sleep much, especially in the last few weeks. His mind has been so focused on preparing the Illini for a football game that he said he’s barely heard about possibility of rain from Isaac’s leftovers on Saturday. “I haven’t seen TV in three weeks,” he said Monday. “My wife told me there was a hurricane coming. I heard that last night as a matter of fact ... but we’re looking at right now and what we need to be successful both offensively and defensively and special teams.” When Operation New Era — ONE, as it’s been abbreviated on the Illini’s wristbands — begins, an old Mid-American Conference foe, Western Michigan, will be waiting for Beckman. He is 2-1 against the Broncos in his career. Last year, Toledo and Western Michigan both had an offensive explosion, where Beckman’s team eked out a 66-63 victory. The score prompted defensive lineman Akeem Spence to poke some fun at his head coach, saying Beckman didn’t have any answers for him. Beckman’s going to be focused on not allow-

ing that to happen again Saturday. The last time Illinois scored 60 or more points, it needed three overtimes against Michigan in 2010. Expect Beckman to be very involved and active during the game as well. He’s always had high energy, and his coordinators can expect to hear him in their headsets all game long. “My headset will be clicking back and forth offensively, defensively and special teams,” Beckman said. “I like to be involved in the games. I like to chest bump them, run down the field with them, all that stuff. That’s what I like to do, that’s why I coach football.” This will be Beckman’s first time with this group of coordinators, and he’s excited to see how they call the games. He uses the co-coordinator system on offense — something he said he’s always done because he wants to see his coordinators work together, just like his team. “It’s about building a family,” Beckman said. “I’m not into ego guys. We’re not going to have ego guys on this football staff. We’re going to have ‘we guys, not me guys.’” A banner that reads the same hangs on the practice field adjacent to Memorial Stadium. On Saturday, Beckman said his football players can expect two things from him and vice versa for them: accountability and trust. Quarterback Nathan S cheelhaase, who’s starting his third straight season opener, has put his trust in Beckman. He said this opener is different from any in years past. “There is a new momentum building. There is a new look for what we’re all about,” he said. “It’s exciting. I think our fans are excited. I think our players are excited for the new era we’ve been talking about for so long.” Beckman has tried different tactics to build camaraderie within the football program. Now this is his fi rst chance to change the culture of the Illini in a different way. And to prove what he said when he took the job in December: “This is a gold mine. You can win at the University of Illinois.”

Jamal can be reached at collie10@dailyillini.com and @JamalCollier.


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Friday, August 31, 2012

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PORTRAIT BY DARYL QUITALIG THE DAILY ILLINI

Western Michigan at Illinois

No. 24 Boise State at No. 13 Michigan State

No. 14 Clemson at Auburn

Illinois 24, Western Michigan 16 Not the 66-63 shootout like the last time Tim Beckman faced the Broncos.

Michigan State 20, Boise State 13 Boise’s giant-killing stops here. After all ... This. Is. Sparty!!!

Clemson 27, Auburn 21 No Sammy Watkins, not a problem for Chad Morris and Tajh Boyd.

Alabama 33, Michigan 17 Nick Saban had 36 days to prepare for LSU. He has 235 days to prepare for Michigan.

Virginia Tech 28, Georgia Tech 23 The winner of the Battle of the Techs has gone on to win the ACC Coastal Division every year.

Hammond

Illinois 27, Western Michigan 17 This game will not be an easy win for the Illini.

Michigan State 27, Boise State 14 Boise State has lost too much firepower.

Alabama 31, Michigan 17 The Crimson Tide’s defense is too much for the Wolverines.

Virginia Tech 24, Georgia Tech 21 If you like the ground game, watch this matchup.

Collier

Clemson 38, Auburn 24 In the battle of the Tigers, Clemson’s returning talent is too much to handle.

Illinois 27, Western Michigan 17 Illinois has won its last six season openers at Memorial Stadium.

Boise State 31, Michigan State 24 I could’ve gone either way on this one. If you ask me tomorrow, I may tell you the other way.

Clemson 35, Auburn 21 Not buying into Auburn, not yet at least.

Virginia Tech 29, Georgia Tech 28 Hokies eke one out in a close one.

Kirshman

Alabama 30, Michigan 14 Michigan will keep it close for a half at least but will be overwhelmed by the defending national champions.

Illinois 27, Western Michigan 10 Perhaps if these Broncos had Tim Tebow, but alas ...

Michigan State 24, Boise State 17 Boise State won’t snap Michigan State’s home unbeaten streak, held since Nov. 21, 2009.

Clemson 24, Auburn 20 Series record is 3412-2 in Auburn’s favor, but Clemson is clawing back.

Alabama 38, Michigan 24 No amount of improvement from Denard Robinson can put the Maize and Blue over the defending champs.

Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 23 Paul Johnson is susceptible in games with an extended amount of prep time.

Thornburg

Illinois 27, Western Michigan 20 Alex Carder could have his way with an Illinois secondary; the pass rush should slow him down.

Michigan State 28, Boise State 20 I don’t expect Friday night’s matchup with the Broncos to buck their home winning streak.

Clemson 35, Auburn 14 Auburn finished among the worst in the SEC last year.

Alabama 34, Michigan 17 The Crimson Tide will temper the expectations in Ann Arbor.

Virginia Tech 21, Georgia Tech 13 The Hokies have won 17 of their last 23 season openers.

Welin

Illinois 27, Western Michigan 14 Unlike Zook, Beckman knows his opponent, and the D-line gets good pressure on Carder.

Michigan State 24, Boise State 10 Since 2006, Boise State is 8-1 against BCS teams and has a 73-6 record overall.

Clemson 35, Auburn 21 Cam Newton ... I mean Tajh Boyd ... Need I say more?

Alabama 30, Michigan 14 Virginia Tech 20, Georgia Tech 10 Denard Robinson’s Heisman campaign gets off A Hokie defense that to a rough start — a Nick returns nine starters Saban defense. beats a team wearing honeycomb helmets.

Tane

No. 8 Michigan at No. 2 Alabama

Georgia Tech at No. 16 Virginia Tech

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Illini Drive

THREE AND OUT

Illiniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s DL should be enough against Broncos Questions about offense loom over season opener

Illini Drive goes â&#x20AC;&#x153;three and outâ&#x20AC;? every Monday on WPGU. Here are the highlights.

DAN WELIN Assistant Sports Editor

NATIONAL QUESTION â&#x20AC;&#x201D; What team in a new conference is poised for the best season?

Thomas Bruch â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to go with TCU. ... They

live in Big 12 country. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been playing these teams before. I think they can settle in there and find their niche within the Big 12 pretty quickly.

BIG TEN QUESTION â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more likely to win this weekend? Michigan (versus Alabama) ... or Michigan State (versus Boise State)?

Jamal Collier â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think either of these teams are going to win. I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d be nice for the Big Ten if they go out and not get embarrassed here. ... I want to believe in Michigan here. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to believe in Michigan, but I want to believe the Big Ten could be a national power. But I keep seeing them lose by three touchdowns.

ILLINI QUESTION â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Who will you miss the most from last year? You can even say Ron Zook.

Max Tane â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll go with Whitney Mercilus, simply because the defense revolved around him and it led to the upbringing of Jonathan Brown. ... He was a multitalented guy. You could put him in a stance. You could put him standing up. (He is) very athletic, and I think heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be missed a lot.

A

In

1947, Western Michigan and Illinois played for the first time. The Illini won 60-14. The next three meetings have been decided by a combined 12 points, with Western Michigan claiming its only victory in the four-game series at a neutral site game at Ford Field in 2008. Because of Illinoisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; fortune of fi lling in positions vacated by departing players and Western Michiganâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inability to do so, 2012 seems like a good season for the Illini to keep their fansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; heart rates regular against the Broncos for the fi rst time since that 46-point drubbing in the â&#x20AC;&#x2122;40s. Senior quarterback Alex Carder has thrown for 7,207 yards and 61 touchdowns the last two seasons. With a completely new wide receiving corps needing to develop chemistry, especially in a game setting, playing the Illini on the road isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t going to help that cause. One would think the loss of last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sack leader and current Houston Texansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; first-round draft pick Whitney Mercilus

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would downgrade a defensive line, but defensive line coach Keith Gilmore has continued to fill the holes left by departing players. Out goes Mercilus, in comes Michael Buchanan. Buchananâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s speed off the end in combination with his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame makes him a threat to every offensive line he will face this season. Add in Akeem Spence, Glenn Foster and Tim Kynard, and the going could get rough for Carder early Saturday. In his first season as Illinoisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; head coach, Tim Beckman couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ask for a more familiar opponent â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or quarterback, for that matter â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to start his Big Ten coaching career. Now that he has Big Ten-caliber players in Buchanan and linebacker Jonathan Brown, along with an experienced secondary in Terry Hawthorne and Justin Green, Beckmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s defense shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow nearly as many points as the 63 his Toledo defense allowed to Carder and the Broncos last year. As far as scoring points goes this season, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not clear how many points fans can expect to see on the scoreboard each game. After an offseason of confusion about the offense â&#x20AC;&#x201D; one that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily cleared up during the media availability this week â&#x20AC;&#x201D; what to expect come Saturday is still a mystery. Co-offensive coordinator Chris Beatty made it a point to say that heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a fan of

a two-quarterback system. That is interpreted to mean that Nathan Scheelhaase will be the starter for the third consecutive season, which shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t come as a surprise because of his ability to throw and run. His critics usually say he runs too much and that he canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t complete throws. Given the offensive line struggles last season and the lack of depth at wide receiver after A.J. Jenkins, his limited time in the pocket and lack of targets shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be placed under the microscope. Scheelhaase needs a steady offensive line and a few more weapons that can help move the chains to effectively run this offense. That lack of depth behind Jenkins from last season carried over into this season, but a recruiting victory from National Signing Day 2011 should offer glimmers of hope this fall. Jon Davis chose Illinois over Kentucky back in 2011, and I imagine Beckman and his staff canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be happier to have a physical specimen such as Davis, who can catch and run with the football, especially with a talented quarterback whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s missing proven passing targets. The pressure to score shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be as evident this week as long as the defensive line gets good pressure on Carder. The same canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be said going forward. Dan is a senior in Media. He can be reached at welin1@ illinimedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @welinanddealin.

Touchdown Times: Aug 31, 2012  

Friday, Aug. 31, 2012

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