Beutjer status unsure

Jon Beutjer (7) throws his final pass of the game against UCLA at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Beutjer was hurt on the tackle, and Illinois went on to lose 35-17. Carol Matteucci

Jon Beutjer (7) throws his final pass of the game against UCLA at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Beutjer was hurt on the tackle, and Illinois went on to lose 35-17. Carol Matteucci

By Lisa Koulias

After Illinois quarterback Jon Beutjer took a hit at the end of the first half of Saturday’s game against UCLA, his status for next Saturday’s game against Western Michigan remains uncertain.

The sixth-year senior was hit in the chest as he tried to pass on the Illini’s last possession before halftime. He suffered a bruised sternum. In Monday’s weekly press conference, head coach Ron Turner said Beutjer felt better but was taking things day by day.

“He feels a lot better today – we just have to wait and see how it goes tomorrow – that’s the key,” Turner said. “Yesterday I made the statement that it was day to day. He is showing improvement; all the x-rays and scans came out negative so we are fine that way. It’s just a matter on how quickly it’s going to heal, how quickly he is going to be pain free and the swelling is going to go down and all that stuff. I talked to the doctors, they just don’t know, it’s truly day to day.”

Redshirt freshman Brad Bower took the reins in Saturday’s game after Beujter left. Bower finished the game 11-of-15 passing for 102 yards. He also ran the ball six times for 39 yards. Bower will be the starting quarterback if Beutjer is not completely ready and healed.

“We’re not going to put Jon out there if there is a risk of further injury,” Turner said. “If there is not, and he’s healthy, then we will play him. We want him to be 100 percent healthy and ready to go if he is going to go back out there.”

    Subscribe to our sports newsletter!

    Successful switch

    Senior Kelvin Hayden, who converted to cornerback last spring, leads the team in tackles with 17, one for a loss. Hayden, who was the team’s leading receiver last year, has also been responsible for three turnovers, including a forced fumble in his first game at his new position.

    Hayden ranks ninth in the Big Ten in tackling, averaging 8.5 tackles a game. He led the Illini against UCLA with a career-high 11 tackles and two passes-broken up.

    “I thought Kelvin Hayden played a very solid, good game,” Turner said. “He came up and made some good hits and did a good solid job in his coverages.”

    Groups galore

    Everyone will be coming out for Saturday’s game against Western Michigan.

    This year’s game marks the third annual Illini jamboree for Boy Scouts. Scouts from six different states throughout the Midwest will be in attendance and will also provide the color guard for the game.

    “This has been a hugely successful promotion over the past couple years and has grown even more this year,” marketing director Dave Johnson said.

    In addition to the Scouts being in attendance, Saturday’s game will also be Band Day where over 60 high school bands will be performing with the Marching Illini at halftime.

    Finally, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and U of I employees are other groups that will fill the stands at Memorial Stadium.

    True Orange and Blue

    “Throughout the whole year, the fans have been amazing for us. I have never seen so much support from our fans. The crowd has been amazing at the games, and Block I has done a lot of things to show their support as well as the band and the rest of the people that come to the game. The Block I coming to practice on Thursday just gives us that extra support and lets us know that people are there and that they care.”

    – senior right tackle Bucky Babcockon the fans support for the Illini.