Well, folks, we’re back to a normal football game week schedule, which kicks off each Monday with coach Tim Beckman and players addressing the media.
Here’s a little bit of what was said…
Besides an increased effort with recruiting, the bye week was used for a few things specifically: evaluation of the past four losses and getting healthy.
Beckman gave players a new motto to follow: Own the day, “which means basically to do everything to win that day because it’s basically one day at a time and that’s the way we need to take it,” he said.
Said quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase: “That’s a mindset you’ve got to have in a sport like this, a season like this.”
In terms of evaluation, Beckman sat in as the offensive staff showed players a reel of negative plays on film. He did the same with the defense, specifically pin-pointing the issues that occurred on each play.
“Out of the 14 negative runs that we’ve had have been because of missed tackles,” Beckman said. “Make the tackle in the hole and it doesn’t go for 40 or whatever it did. Make the tackle when you’re supposed to, get to the football. But then we showed positive ones, too. Hey, we are successful because we are here making the tackle or making the block or trying to utilize those things. It was very important for our players to see success is a step away if we do it the way we’re supposed to.”
The bye week came at a good time in terms of getting some guys needed rest. According to Beckman, Scheelhaase is “full-go” after suffering a concussion against Michigan.
“Obviously they had to take precautionary measures at that time, but no issues the following days at all,” Scheelhaase said.
And defensive players like Jonathan Brown and Terry Hawthorne are in much better shape, too. The team practiced Sunday, with encouraging signs from both players.
“Last night he was the old Jonathan Brown” Beckman said. “That was good to see.
Terry was full Terry Hawthorne.”
However, it’s not clear whether players like Supo Sanni or Houston Bates are fully healthy.
“Some of the injuries were a lot worse than people knew about,” said ‘star’ Ashante Williams.
As far as the program in general, Beckman acknowledged that a 2-5 record “won’t get any plusses.” But the responsibilities of each coach will remain the same and Beckman’s basic vision of the program and how it’s run will not change. In other words, there has been no shake-up or change of approach.
“Stick with your plan,” he said. “Stick with what you believe in. Stick with what you do. It’s been successful. There’s no reason it can’t be successful. That’s what you do. We’re going to practice basically the same way I did at Toledo and at Oklahoma State and at Ohio State. I'm doing exactly the things that we need to do to make ourselves successful.”
The stated goal at the beginning of the season was to compete for the Big Ten title. That’s obviously changed. Now the players understand a trip to a third consecutive bowl is in jeopardy. That makes this game against Indiana, 2-5 overall, 0-3 in conference, especially important, given that the contest pits the two worst teams, record-wise, in the Big Ten against one another.
“We have to win this game,” Williams said. “We can’t have anymore losses or we’re going to be out of a chance for a bowl game.”
Click HERE to discuss The Rundown on the premium IlliniPlaybook message board.