For the second straight week, Illinois will be without its starting quarterback of the past two-plus years.
The Illini confirmed Friday night that Nathan Scheelhaase will not play today in the game with Charleston Southern due to an ankle injury incurred in the opener against Western Michigan. There had been some optimism this week that the junior would be under center for the non-conference game against the FCS opponent.
Prior to missing last weekend’s loss to Arizona State, Scheelhaase had started 27 straight games for the Illini.
In place of Scheelhaase in the 31-point loss to the Sun Devils, the Illini used some semblance of a rotation that consisted of Reilly O’Toole and Miles Osei. At least for that weekend, the reviews were far from rave.
Combined, O’Toole and Osei were O’MG didja sei how LOL they were, completing 14-of-24 passes for 101 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions and a combined efficiency rating of 82.4. Last season, Scheelhaase finished fourth among Big Ten quarterbacks with a 133.4 rating in the efficiency category.
There’s no word yet on which player will start, although it’s safe to assume that both O’Toole and Osei will play.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah