Turner wanted him, Broncos got him, Illini fight to contain him

By Lisa Koulias

Illinois head coach Ron Turner knew he saw something special in Ryan Cubit when he tried to recruit him four years ago.

The Western Michigan quarterback made his first start against the Illini on Saturday after the Broncos regular starting QB was injured the week earlier.

Cubit took full advantage of the opportunity, completing 27-of-41 passes for 273 yards.

“Ryan played well; I was happy with him all week,” Broncos head coach Gary Darnell said. “You learn a lot about quarterbacks when you put them in huge situations as far as dropping back and keeping people off of him. … Our passing efficiency was excellent. I know Monday morning that I’m going to have a quarterback issue because I know the other guy (Blayne Baggett) can do that too. When I go to bed at night, I know that I’m going to have two good quarterbacks.”

Turner heavily recruited the quarterback back in high school, but Cubit committed to Rutgers. He transferred to Western Michigan last season but sat out due to the transfer rule.

Cubit’s father, Bill, was offensive coordinator at Western Michigan from 1997-99 and now coaches quarterbacks at Stanford.

“He’s a good player,” Turner said. “You guys know I tried to recruit him out of high school; I liked him a lot out of high school. His dad’s a coach, so he has a good understanding of the game. He’s got tremendous poise. I think he’s a real good player. You could see that on the high school film, he’s a smart-headed, good player.”

Fresh face

Defensive end Xavier Fulton saw action in Saturday’s game. He is the seventh true freshman to play this season.

Fulton was named to all-state teams by the Chicago Sun Times, News Gazette and Illinois High School Coaches Association in high school. His senior year he recorded 98 tackles, 58 solo stops and 7.5 sacks.

“He has been practicing really well,” Turner said. “He’s a tremendous athlete. We think he has a chance to be a great player and so we wanted to get him on the field, have him give us a little spark.”

Stat of the game

Illinois’ school record streak of 202 consecutive extra points came to an end on Saturday as Jason Reda missed an extra point attempt in the second quarter.

The streak began during the 1998 season and spanned five kickers – Neil Rackers, Steve Fitts, Peter Christofilakos, John Gockman and Reda.

Quote of the game

“Obviously this is definitely a good win for us. But we know the Big Ten season is coming up and that’s a whole different animal in itself. We just have to look at film and clean some things up. I’m sure there’s a lot of things we have to clean up on film. When the Big Ten starts, that’s a whole different season in itself.”

– running back E.B. Halsey on the beginning of the Big Ten season, which starts on Saturday when Illinois hosts Purdue.