Inexperienced Bower has different style as QB

By Courtney Linehan

What hope remained in Memorial Stadium seemed to quickly drain just before halftime Saturday. With less than a minute to play in the first half, quarterback Jon Beutjer suffered a blow to the ribs during a hurry by UCLA defensive end Justin Hickman.

Although Beutjer was able to jog off the field, he did not return to the game, which quickly turned from recoverable to a solid defeat.

Redshirt freshman Brad Bower took over as quarterback for the second half. While he was impressive on the field, the rookie realizes he still has a lot to learn.

“I felt I made a few mistakes, a few rookie mistakes that I shouldn’t have made,” Bower said. “There were a few run checks that I called at the line to the wrong side, the one interception I threw which I should have thrown out of bounds, stuff like that. I’m kicking myself for it now, but everybody was supporting me throughout the way and that’s all I could ask for.”

For Bower, preparing for a game when he may or may not play means practicing like a starter during the week and paying careful attention from the bench on game day.

“I prepared all week for it, just in case anything would happen,” Bower said. “(When not playing) I’m watching the defense, watching the secondary, what they do. See if they’re bringing any blitzes, if they go middle field closed, middle field open, stuff like that. So, I’m paying attention. I’m in the game the whole time even if I’m on the sidelines. You have to focus ’cause it could be me, Chris (Pazan) or Tim (Brasic) going in.”

Bower, whose greatest strength is his running game, was 11-of-15 passing and gained 39 yards rushing.

“I bring a different aspect than say Jon would,” he said. “I like to pull it down and run a little more. Definitely I like to get in that open field and make something happen with my legs if there’s nothing open.”

Head coach Ron Turner said he was happy with Bower’s play but agreed the young quarterback has more to learn.

“I was pleased with his poise and his decision-making and overall I thought he did a good job,” Turner said. “Obviously the interception hurt … he’s got to learn from that.”

Bower said he has more to learn before next weekend’s match-up against Western Michigan.

“I definitely have to keep on growing, everybody has to keep on growing and just keep on coming together and play as a team,” Bower said.

Role of replay

In the Illini’s first drive, a questionable call on an E.B. Halsey rush for no gain led to a turnover. Turner said he looks forward to instant replay in future games clarifying similarly unclear calls.

“That is something replay can correct, that’s why I’ve been pushing for it – let’s try to get it right,” Turner said. “If we get replay we’re not going to get all the calls. They are not all going to go our way. I’d like them to go our way but I don’t expect them to, I’d like to get them all right. And that was one that, regardless of whether it was a good call or a bad call, replay would have gotten it right.”

Turnover Turnaround

Illinois gave up three turnovers against UCLA while forcing one. Last weekend the Illini forced three turnovers against Florida A&M;, who forced none.

Big Ten Champs

The biggest crowd pleaser of the day was when the Illinois men’s basketball team came onto the field after the first quarter to receive their Big Ten championship rings. The team, which went 26-7 in the 2003-04 season, received a standing ovation from the 47,457 spectators.

Quote of the game

“It was a good college atmosphere. Their fans were excited. They seemed like they were happy with their team, coming off a 40-point victory. We wanted to take them out of the game early, so we made some big plays and that’s what changed the momentum for us.”

– UCLA wide receiver Craig Brag on the environment at Memorial Stadium