Chicago Sun-Times
With Sun-Times sports reporter Herb Gould

Recently in Reilly O'Toole Category

            Nathan Scheelhaase practiced Sunday night, but Illini coach Tim Beckman said Monday he wants to see more before making a decision on the third-year starter's status for Illinois' trip to Arizona State Saturday night (9:30 p.m., ESPN).

            After leading Illinois to its only two offensive touchdowns in Saturday's 24-7 victory over Western Michigan, Scheelhaase left the game in the third quarter with an apparent left-ankle sprain.

            The fact that he practiced a day later appears to be a good sign for Scheelhaase, who threw a 64-yard touchdown pass and had a four-yard TD run against the Broncos.

            Scheelhaase ``was moving around, but definitely not 100 percent,'' Beckman said. ``We're going to have to continue to evaluate throughout the week. You know Nathan is very committed to everything that he does, so I know he will give it everything he's got to make sure that he's healthy. We'll have to make those decisions as the week goes on.''

            The coaching staff, training staff and Scheelhaase all will be involved in the decision.

            ``I want him healthy,'' Beckman said. ``Does he have to be 100 percent? He has to be healthy enough for him to be successful in what we're asking him to do.''

            Scheelhaase's backups are strong-armed sophomore Reilly O'Toole, who lacks Scheelhaase's mobility, and athletic junior Miles Osei, who's expected to be on the field in a variety of roles this fall. Osei had an impressive fall camp, but is the least experienced quarterback option.

            ``Reilly's very capable of doing what we need to do to be successful,'' Beckman said, adding that the versatile Osei will get more touches this week. ``Miles Osei needs to be in the game more than he was. Whether at quarterback, wide receiver or running back, he needs to be on the field. So he will be.''

There was a good vibe coming from Champaign on Sunday, the first day after an opener since 2006 that the Illini could bask in the glow of a win.
On top of that, the injury report was encouraging.
Akeem Spence (ankle), Michael Buchanan (knee), A.J. Jenkins (quadriceps) and Reilly O'Toole (shoulder) are sore, but aren't expected to miss more than a precautionary day or two of practice time to heal up.
``We even had no one cramp up,'' said Zook. ``I don't know that I've ever played or coached in a game where we had no one cramp up.''
In what he also believes is a personal first, Zook was pleased that Illinois had no penalties in its 33-15 victory over Arkansas State. It was Illinois' first penalty-free game since a 1993 contest vs. Wisconsin.
``That's a tribute to the coaches,'' Zook said. ``We've been demanding and these guys want to please. And the officials did a nice job of letting them play on both sides.''
THE REILLY FACTOR: Zook has no qualms about burning the redshirt year of true freshman quarterback O'Toole, who injured his shoulder when he drilled during mopup work.
``We're going to get Reilly on the field as much as we can, to get him ready,'' Zook said. ``God forbid, but if something were to happen to Nathan [Scheelhaase], we're going to need him and Miles [Osei, a sophomore backup]. We all think Reilly can help us win, so let's get him ready to go.''
O'Toole said he's good either way, playing or redshirting, and Zook clearly wants him to play.
``I'm concerned about winning games right now,'' Zook said. ``I think he can help us. I don't want guys to want to redshirt. You want guys that expect to come in here and play, and he's earned the chance to do that.''

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