Nathan Scheelhaase

Former Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase rejoins program as assistant DFO

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It’s becoming something of a tradition in the Illinois football program. Start at quarterback, then come back a few years down the road and get your feet wet in the coaching business.

Earlier this week, Illinois announced the hiring of former quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase as the program’s assistant director of football operations. The man he replaces? None other than former Illinois quarterback Juice Williams.

Williams, who also preceded Scheelhaase as the Illini’s signal-caller, left for a job on the athletic development staff at Georgetown.

“I am honored to be working for the university I call home,” Scheelhaase said in a statement. “The memories I made as a player were special, and I can’t wait to be a part of creating more memories for the players and fans. As the Assistant Director of Football Operations I am excited about supporting the coaching staff and players in every way possible. I am confident that my experience as a student-athlete and as a leader both domestically and internationally will be a valuable source in helping the football program achieve greater success. I can’t wait to get to home and get to work.”

Scheelhaase started at quarterback from 2010-13 and remains the program’s all-time total offense leader with 10,634 yards. He stands as one of just two players in Big Ten history with 8,000 career passing yards and 2,000 career rushing yards, and is the only quarterback in school history to lead the club to bowl wins in back-to-back seasons.

Elsehwere in the program, Patrick Embleton has been hired as director of student-athlete development.

Today in spring football confidence: Bill Cubit thinks Illinois can be best offense in B1G

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Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has some awfully high hopes for the Illini in 2014.

As in, Cubit thinks Illinois can have the best offense in the Big Ten. As he told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Steve Greenberg:

“Last year we talked about going from worst to first in total offense in the [Big Ten]. We didn’t accomplish that; we got to fifth. But I think we’ve got a chance to be the best offense in the conference.”

Illinois indeed had a decent enough offense last year, finishing 60th nationally in scoring offense (29.7 points per game) and 46th in total offense (426.7 yards per game). And while they’ll lose four-year starter Nathan Scheelhaase, the leading candidate to replace him is Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt. Nearly the entire offensive line is back, too.

Is that good enough to be a better offense than a Braxton Miller-led Ohio State? Or Wisconsin’s always-potent rushing attack? Probably not. But Illinois could very well have a potent offense this season with the talent and scheme they have.

Now, about that defense

Sneak Peek: 2014 Orange Bowl

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WHO: 10-2 Clemson vs. 12-1 Ohio State

WHAT: The Orange Bowl (80th year)

WHERE: Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida

WHEN: Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET

WHY: While it may be simplistic — and I’m nothing if not simple — the key to the outcome of this game could very well come down to the answer to a singular question: can Ohio State’s beleaguered secondary even remotely slow down Clemson’s high-powered passing game? That’s going to be a helluva lot easier said than done.

The Tigers, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins under the leadership of offensive coordinator Chad Morris, boast an aerial attack that averages nearly 330 yards per game, a total that’s currently 11th in the country.  The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are 103rd in passing yards allowed, giving up an average of 259.5 yards per game.  Over the past four games, OSU has given up a total of 1,267 yards (317 ypg) to the likes of Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld, Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase, Michigan’s Devin Gardner and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, none of whom will ever be confused with Tajh Boyd.

Adding to OSU’s secondary woes is Bradley, the Buckeyes’ top cover corner who will likely miss the Orange Bowl due to a knee injury.  Not only that, but Noah Spence will be sidelined due to a three-game suspension.  The defensive lineman leads Ohio State in sacks and would’ve been expected to help apply pressure on Boyd in the hopes of forcing the senior into mistakes.

The good news for the Buckeyes is they have the offensive firepower to at least match the Tigers’ explosiveness.  Quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde have combined 2,441 yards on the ground and 4 rushing touchdowns despite missing multiple games due to injury (the former) and suspension (the latter).  When it comes to defending the run, Clemson shades toward the middle of the pack (50th at 152.6 ypg).

Miller could also test the Tigers’ stingy 16th-ranked pass defense with his arm, having completed more than 63 percent of his passes in 2013 and throwing 22 touchdowns in what amounts to 10 games.

The only previous meeting between the two programs came in the 1978 Gator Bowl when, well, this happened.  Wayne Woodrow Hayes, you will always be The Man despite the misguided emotion that connected with Charlie Bauman‘s throat.

Both teams are coming off tough double-digit losses to end their “regular” seasons, with the Buckeyes falling 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game — snapping OSU’s 24-game winning streak — and the Tigers getting dropped 31-17 by in-state rival South Carolina.

As important as the game is to each program individually, its crucial for the battered images of their respective conferences.  Thus far this postseason, current members of the ACC are 3-6 while the Big Ten is 2-4.

The Orange Bowl is the final 2013-14 postseason game for the Big Ten, while the ACC has Florida State in the BCS title game Monday night remaining.

PREDICTION: Clemson 48, Ohio State 42

Scheelhaase’s dad hit with one-year ban from Illini campus

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If the father of Illinois senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is going to watch his son play a game at the collegiate level the remainder of this season, he’ll have to go on the road to do it.

Nathan Creer, Scheelhaase’s father, has been banned from the Illini campus for one year following an incident during last Saturday’s game at Memorial Stadium, the Indianapolis Star reported.  The incident occurred roughly midway through the Illini’s loss to Michigan State and ended with Creer being arrested and charged with resisting a peace officer.

The university’s police chief, Jeff Christensen, told the Star that “campus bans are ‘standard practice’ when someone who isn’t a student or university employee is suspected of creating trouble at the school.”

The arrest and charge came after an incident involving Creer, who police said appeared to be intoxicated, and several fans in what was technically referred to as a “fight.”  Police officers were called into the stands after the altercation was reported at around 3:30 local time.

“From what I heard, somebody was intoxicated, words were exchanged, swings were exchanged. We got the parties separated. Some calmed down and went along with the program. Some did not,” UI deputy police chief Skip Frost said earlier this week.

One of the some (allegedly) was Creer, who was arrested after he pulled away from an officer attempting to remove him from the incident involving upwards of 10 people.  Creer was the only individual hit with charges stemming from the brouhaha, although three other individuals involved were ejected from the stadium.

Campus police have stated they are unsure what sparked the incident.

Dad of Nathan Scheelhaase arrested, charged during son’s game

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How does that old sports chestnut go, “fight, fight, fight for the home team?”

According to Illinois campus police, that’s precisely what the father of starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase did during his son’s game Saturday.  Well, that and not complying with and/or jerking away from someone wearing a badge.

The Champaign News-Gazette reported Sunday that Nathan Creer, Scheelhaase’s father, was arrested inside Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon and charged with resisting a peace officer.  The arrest and charge came after an incident involving Creer, who police said appeared to be intoxicated, and several fans in what was technically referred to as a “fight.”

Police officers were called into the stands after an altercation was reported at around 3:30 local time, in the midst of the Illini’s 42-3 loss to Michigan State.

“From what I heard, somebody was intoxicated, words were exchanged, swings were exchanged. We got the parties separated. Some calmed down and went along with the program. Some did not,” UI deputy police chief Skip Frost said.

One of the some (allegedly) was Creer, who was arrested after he pulled away from an officer attempting to remove him from the incident involving upwards of 10 people.

Police were unaware at the time that Creer is related to Scheelhaase.

Creer, who the News-Gazette reports is serving probation after he was arrested for criminal trespassing of an ex-girlfriend’s property in January, was released after posting a $150 bond.  He was the only individual arrested, although three others involved in the brouhaha were ejected from the stadium.