CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois football team is dead last in the Big Ten in rushing offense through the first three games of the season. In fact the Orange and Blue are getting less than 20% of their offense on the ground. That's one of the worst in the country. Early on the emphasis hasn't exactly been on running the ball. Only two Big Ten teams have run less often, but the success hasn't been there. The Illini are averaging a little better than 70 yards per game on the ground, and it's not just a running back problem.
ILLINOIS -- A former UI wrestler is a finalist for the Illinois Teacher of the Year.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt has been one of the best in the Big Ten so far this year, but he will be the first to admit Saturday's game at Washington wasn't one of his best. Lunt threw an interception that got run back for a touchdown, and then later he had the ball stripped away, and it was run back for a Washington score - a couple mistakes in what has been an otherwise outstanding start to Lunt's season. He was proud of the way his team responded in Seattle after he says he put his team in a tough spot.
Washington took a 35-3 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back. The Huskies defeated Illinois 44-19. Illinois hosts Texas State next week.
Latest: 1:20 pm, 9/12/14, Friday ADAMS COUNTY -- A former UI football standout and prosecutor is scheduled to appear in court Friday to face arraignment on the murder of his wife on Valentine's Day, 2006.
If the last few weeks are an indication of what's to come, Illinois is in for a high-scoring game when they visit Washington Saturday afternoon.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois basketball team got some bad news Thursday. Head coach John Groce announced starting point guard Tracy Abrams tore his right ACL during a preseason skill workout and will miss the entire upcoming season. Abrams will redshirt this season, and then have one year left to play. It's a big loss, though, for this year's team. Abrams was Illinois' second-leading scorer last year, averaging nearly 11 points per game. He led the team in assists and was second in minutes and steals.
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. - For the third time in the last year John Groce and the Illinois basketball team are the bridesmaids. Illinois' top prospect, Stevenson point guard Jalen Brunson, chose to return to his family's roots picking Philadelphia's Villanova over Champaign and the Illini. Brunson's decision comes just ten months after Quentin Snider decommitted from the Orange and Blue in favor of Louisville. That same day, Curie big man Cliff Alexander chose Kansas over Illinois in what will forever be remembered as the hat fake. Brunson left out the drama Wednesday. He simply unzipped his sweatshirt revealing a Villanova shirt - and hat.
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. - Stevenson point guard Jalen Brunson became the latest elite in-state recruit to spurn the Illini as the five-star talent announced Wednesday he will play college basketball at Villanova. Brunson is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 15 overall recruit in the Class of 2015. He took official visits to both Illinois and Villanova before pledging to join the Wildcats Wednesday. Brunson joins a short list of elite Illinois talents, who chose to go out of state for college hoops. Head coach John Groce will set his sights now on Dallas, Tex. point guard Jawun Evans, who took an official visit to Illinois last week.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Centennial football team received some bad news on Wednesday as senior quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald announced he tore his ACL in Saturday's win over Marion. Fitzgerald, who has verbally committed to play at Illinois, will miss the rest of the season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - One thing was missing from Justin Hardee's career performance Saturday - his mother. She passed away in December after a long fight with lung disease. "That was my best friend," Hardee said. "She really didn't know how football went, but she only watched it because of me. That was very special to me."
Robert Rosenthal from illiniboard.com talks about the Illinois win against Western Kentucky and has a prediction for next week.
Wes Lunt's record-setting day guided the Illini over Western Kentucky 42-34. WCIA 3's Aaron Bennett has more from Memorial Stadium.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois defensive tackle Austin Teitsma put together the best individual performance on his Illinois career Saturday against Youngstown State, and he's hoping it's just the start of a huge senior season. Teitsma had a career-high nine tackles and two-and-a-half tackles for loss in Saturday's win, but he and the defense will be put to a different kind of test this week against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers ran 96 plays from scrimmage - and they play fast meaning Teitsma and his guys on the defensive line will be pushed to the limit.
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Could we see a revival of the Illinois-Missouri football series down the road? Missouri athletic director Mike Alden isn't shutting the door on that possibility. Alden told reporters Wednesday he is "all ears" when it comes to entertaining the idea of playing a neutral site football game, possibly against Illinois in St. Louis. The earliest that could happen would be 2019, but Alden says there hasn't been any in-depth discussion yet on renewing that series.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - One of the biggest knocks on Illinois' defense last year was their inability to force turnovers. The Illini were dead last in the Big Ten in takeaways a year ago, and they didn't force a single turnover in Saturday's win over Youngstown State. The Illini had their opportunities against the Penguins. Mason Monheim dropped a sure interception after a pass hit him right in the hands, and Taylor Barton stripped a ball loose before it rolled out of bounds. A couple close calls, but head coach Tim Beckman says they have to capitalize on those opportunities.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- More than 100 women went to school Tuesday night, to learn the ABC's of playing hoops.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - During camp we heard a lot about the freshman wide receivers for the Illinois football team, especially Malik Turner and Mikey Dudek. They got their first taste of game action Saturday against Youngstown State, and it's not a stretch to say Illinois might not have won without them.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For the second straight weekend John Groce will host one of the best point guard recruits in the country when Jawun Evans begins his official visit to Champaign Friday. Evans is a four-star recruit from Dallas, Tex. (Kimball HS), and he is ranked among the Top 30 recruits nationwide in the 2015 class.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - If you look at just the numbers from Saturday, Wes Lunt put together the best debut for an Illinois quarterback in school history. He threw for 285 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Illini to a 28-17 win over Youngstown State. Lunt had to knock some rust off early Saturday, but he completed 10 of his final 12 passes and didn't throw an interception all day. Taking into consideration that was Lunt's first game in nearly two years, head coach Tim Beckman likes what he is seeing.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was supposed to be an easy win, but it proved to be anything but easy. Illinois trailed on two different occasions in the fourth quarter Saturday before surviving with a 28-17 win over Youngstown State. The players say first game jitters had a lot to do with their struggles. "First couple series we got out there, and it was a shock and [we] got away from what we practiced," said senior Donovonn Young. "Toward the end of the game we started getting back into the groove of things."
Western Kentucky Quarterback Brandon Doughty threw for 569 yards and six touchdowns in the season opener. The Illini are preparing to try and slow down this high powered attack.
Illiniboard.com's Robert Rosenthal gives his take on the Illinois win over YSU.
The Illinois defense gave up over 200 yards rushing, but held Youngstown State to just 17 points.
Illinois trailed Youngstown State 9-7 in the fourth quarter before rallying to win 28-17. Wes Lunt set Illini records for a new-coming starting quarterback after throwing for 285 yards and four touchdowns.
Five star Stevenson point guard Jalen Brunson took an official visit to Illinois this weekend. He was at the football game Saturday. He is a top Illini recruiting target. Brunson is ranked as the 15th best prospect in the class of 2015 according to rivals.com.
CHAMPAIGN -- Saturday's Illinois football game will have a unique attraction during tailgate.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The non-conference games will be a critical time for Illinois running back Josh Ferguson to prove he can shoulder the load and be the go-to guy for Tim Beckman's offense. Ferguson took hold of the No. 1 job early in the season last year, but this will be his first season opener as the top running back. He says he gained ten pounds in the offseason and is ready to show what he can do. "I'm definitely ready to go," he said. "I put in a lot of work this offseason in order to do so. I'm excited. It's been a long offseason, and we're just ready to play." Ferguson racked up more than 1,300 total yards and 11 touchdowns last year.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - When Illinois takes the field Saturday against Youngstown State, it will be our first chance to see how much the defense has improved. "It still comes down to tackling," said head coach Tim Beckman. "It still comes down to rushing the passer, and catching the football on interceptions. But I think we've gotten better. We see that as a defense throughout this preseason."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Zach Grant likes being the underdog. It's all he knows, so he embraces it. "I love it," he said. "It's just motivation to go out and do your best everyday and prove people wrong." Grant was an all-state receiver at Rochester High School, teaming up with Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt to help the Rockets win back-to-back state titles. He set an IHSA record for most receiving yards in a season his senior year. He's second in the record books in receptions. But at 6' 0'' tall and 190 pounds he didn't have any Division I scholarship offers out of high school.
WCIA 3 Sports brings you a preseason look at the Illinois football team and some of the top storylines we'll be watching this high school football season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It is finally game week for the Illinois football team, and they have already spent some time game planning for the season opener Saturday against Youngstown State. There has been a lot of talk about optimism this offseason, and now it's time to show what they can do. Illinois will try to snap a four-game home losing streak when they take the field Saturday, and head coach Tim Beckman says he likes what he is seeing from his team and thinks they will be ready to go.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - As game week arrives, there is really only one starting job still up for grabs, and that is at right tackle where junior Pat Flavin and redshirt freshman Christian DiLauro are fighting for that spot. Head coach Tim Beckman said Monday Flavin holds a slim edge, but DiLauro has been charging hard. Beckman wants to let that battle play out this week before making a final decision on Thursday. "I would give the nod if we were playing tomorrow to Pat Flavin," Beckman said. "We've still got three more days to compete to be that starting right tackle."
Rochester head coach Derek Leonard has high praise for his former quarterback Wes Lunt. Lunt was named the Illini starting quarterback this week.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The game time is now set for the Braggin' Rights game against Missouri. The U of I announced Friday that the game will tip off at 1:00 pm CT on December 20th and will be televised on ESPN 2. Meanwhile the Big Ten schedule was released Thursday night, and the big thing that stands out immediately is that Illinois opens up with four of their first five games on the road - including back-to-back games at Michigan at Ohio State. It's a tough way to start, but it makes finishing strong all the more important.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - Illinois struck first, but No. 16 Notre Dame netted the final three goals to spoil the season and home opener at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. Freshman Abby Elinsky scored the first goal of the year in the 23rd minute, but the Fighting Irish scored twice in the final six minutes in the first half and added another in the second stanza. "I'm really proud of the way we battled today," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "The things that we gave up, especially ones that affected the scoreboard, were things that we had control over, things that we can make better in a pretty short amount of time. I told this team I'm optimistic based on what I saw today. This team is going to get better.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Big Ten schedules for both the men's and women's basketball seasons were released Thursday.
URBANA, Ill. - Former Illinois basketball coach Lou Henson held his 13th annual Illini Rebounders golf outing Wednesday afternoon at Stone Creek in Urbana. All the proceeds benefit the Illinois basketball program.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tim Beckman put an end to the quarterback competition Wednesday when he announced sophomore Wes Lunt will be the starting quarterback when the Illini open the season August 30 against Youngstown State. Lunt had been the frontrunner for the starting job since the end of spring practice, and today Beckman made his decision.
RANTOUL, Ill. - Every year before Camp Rantoul ends, each senior stands in front of the team and gives a speech. It is often a time of reflection, reminiscing about how fast their time has flown by. It is also about the future - cherishing every moment they have left in their final season. Donovonn Young's speech was no different. "I put a lot of emphasis on the fact that I was going to miss these guys a lot," said the senior running back. "College football has done so much for me, really molded me into the man that I am today."
RANTOUL, Ill. - All signs indicate that Wes Lunt is in the driver's seat to be named the starting quarterback when Tim Beckman makes that announcement Wednesday. Lunt has consistently outperformed senior Reilly O'Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey so far in camp. The latest performance came in a scrimmage Saturday where Lunt completed more than 80 percent of his passes for nearly 250 yards. "I felt as an offense we did pretty well," said Lunt. "I thought we punched it in when we needed to. We had a couple three-and-outs. Need to cut down on penalties, but other than that I thought the offense played pretty well."
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Illinois recruiting target Jimmy Whitt verbally committed to Arkansas at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Hickman High School. White is a four-star combo guard, who is ranked among the Top 60 players nationally. He took an unofficial visit to Illinois last month and had scheduled an official visit to Illinois this fall, but Whitt decided to end his recruitment. He told reporters the decision ultimately came down to Arkansas and Missouri, his hometown team.
Champaign Centennial graduate Michael Finke, now a freshman on the Illinois basketball team, accepted Aaron Bennett's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - and issued a few more challenges to his Illini teammates.
RANTOUL, Ill. - The Illinois quarterback competition is coming down the last couple days, as Tim Beckman says he will announce his starter on Wednesday. Sophomore Aaron Bailey may be running out of time to make an impression. That's because Bailey left Monday morning's practice with some stiffness in his shoulder and neck area. Beckman says it doesn't appear to be anything serious; he's just playing it safe.
After practice Monday, Tim Beckman and the Illinois football team accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and also issued a few challenges of their own.
WCIA 3's Bret Beherns chats with illiniboard.com's Robert Rosenthal about Camp Rantoul.
Earnest Thomas is changing positions on the Illinois defense and WCIA 3's Bret Beherns reports he hopes to give the team a boost.
University of Illinois junior Kentrell Brown is in charge of the on field music during Camp Rantoul.
The Illinois football team is working to continue to improve in the kicking game this season.
RANTOUL, Ill. - Illinois head coach Tim Beckman said he will name a starting quarterback no later than Wednesday. He added that Saturday night's scrimmage will go a long way in determining who wins that job. The team wrapped up it's week of practices at Camp Rantoul Friday night, and now they will scrimmage under the lights at Memorial Stadium. That scrimmage will be closed to the public and media. Beckman said he is looking forward to finding out how far his team has come so far this season.