VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Fantasy Sports
More
Betting Tools

 
Illinois changing, but how much unclear

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Coming off a 2-10 season, there will be changes in Tim Beckman's second season as Illinois coach.

Advertisement
Spring practice starts Tuesday after an offseason of coaching turnover.

Beckman changed much of his staff, bringing in new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit and adding new assistants on both sides of the ball.

And Illinois will play without four of the most talented players off last season's team - defensive end Michael Buchanan, defensive back Terry Hawthorne, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and offensive lineman Hugh Thornton. All four are trying now to catch the eye of NFL teams ahead of the draft.

Beckman said Monday that he wasn't surprised by challenges his team faced last fall - depth key among them, he said.

``It's what I thought it was when I was getting in,'' said Beckman, who came from Toledo to replace Ron Zook. ``I knew it would be a challenge. ... I think we're moving forward.''

With Cubit in charge of the offense, change is likely there.

Cubit was fired last season after eight seasons as Western Michigan coach, but has a history of putting together productive offenses. Illinois' was the Big Ten's worst last season in both scoring (16.7 points a game) and in yardage (296.7).

Cubit says returning starter Nathan Scheelhaase has the edge at quarterback, but said he's really hoping backup Reilly O'Toole pushes the incumbent. O'Toole, a sophomore, played in seven games last fall as Scheelhaase struggled with both his performance and injuries.

``I expect Reilly to go out there and say, `I want to go out there and be the starter just like Nate is,''' Cubit said. ``That's the only way to do it. If he sits back, he'll never be good.''

The team's running backs, Beckman said, figure to be a strong point. Donovonn Young, Josh Ferguson and Dami Ayoola combined for 1,000 yards on 232 carries last season.

The line in front of them was a weakness last fall, but Beckman said it should be better.

Illinois will go through the spring without its second most-productive receiver. Darius Millines - who had 319 yards on 32 catches last year - was already out with a shoulder injury but is now suspended for violating unspecified team rules, Beckman said Monday. Beckman said he'll re-evaluate Millines' situation in May.

With three of the four likely NFL prospects that left on defense, Illinois' biggest holes may be on that side of the ball. And those losses come from a unit that struggled in 2012. Illinois gave up 32.1 points a game - 11th in the 12-team Big Ten - and was 10th in yards allowed at 387.6. The team was also last in turnover margin and near the back of the conference in sacks just a season after being among the best in the country.

The problem last season, defensive coordinator Tim Banks said, wasn't the system. So don't expect to see big changes there.

``I mean, I think it's proven. Obviously we didn't play as well as we wanted to last year,'' said Banks, who came to Illinois from Cincinnati, where he ran one of the top defenses in the country. ``Is it the same defense I had two years ago? Yep.''

``If (Alabama coach) Nick Saban's guys don't make tackles and don't pick balls off,'' he added, ``it's not a great system.''

With a few exceptions, Illinois' spring practices will be closed to fans and news media. The annual spring game will be April 12 at Memorial Stadium.

---

Follow David Mercer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidmercerap

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
News: Conference Championship Odds
News: 2017 Heisman Betting Odds
Harbaugh gives the pope a helmet
Ex-Spartan returned to Michigan jail
Virginia QB Benkert healthy again
Teams likely to slip back in 2017
Baylor's Rhule back to Philly for draft
Michigan paints Italy blue in event
Illinois lost $6.2 million in 2016
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2016 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 2051
Joe Williams + 1909
Pat Hawkins + 1752
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Greg Smith + 400
Joe Nelson + 385
Scott Rickenbach + 380
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Scott Pritchard 60 %
Scott Rickenbach 59 %
Kyle Hunter 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 1239
Scott Rickenbach + 1082
Kyle Hunter + 1023
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2485
Kyle Hunter + 2166
NeiltheGreek + 2076
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Vince Akins + 805
Scott Rickenbach + 657
Pat Hawkins + 595
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership