Illini get day off

By Lisa Koulias

The Illinois football team has been practicing or playing a game every day since early August.

But on Sunday, head coach Ron Turner decided to give the team a day off to re-group and refocus.

The team still met, but only for lifting, treatment and meetings.

Turner said this is because the team will not have a bye week until the end of the season, while most teams have already had one.

“I just felt physically they needed a little break and probably mentally and emotionally too,” Turner said. “(They needed time to) get rejuvenated, recharged and ready to come back ready to go. It’s not that unusual; we usually do it this time of year.”

Turner said he hasn’t noticed the team’s emotion heading south or players starting to give up, but he wanted to make sure spirits wouldn’t get down.

“We’ve got to make sure that the frustration level doesn’t turn into discouragement and I don’t think it has yet,” Turner said. “And that is part of the reason why we told them to get away yesterday. We need to regroup so we can get out there and play the game with a lot of fun, play the game with emotion, play the game like it’s supposed to be played and hopefully rekindle that fire. I don’t know that it was out, but just make sure it isn’t.”

Pazan or Beutjer

After playing both Jon Beutjer and Chris Pazan at quarterback in last week’s game, Turner was going to wait and see who to name starter for this week’s game.

At Monday’s weekly press conference, he said he still hadn’t decided.

“It could take the week, I really don’t know,” Turner said. “We are going to continue to look at it and see where we are and what we want to do. I really don’t know.”

Turner also said that although only Beutjer and Pazan saw playing time against Michigan State, redshirt freshman Brad Bower is also in the mix. He said each has shown some progress, but he would like to see a little more aggressiveness on the field.

“I don’t think either of the quarterbacks are playing awful, but it’s not like someone is just making a bunch of plays,” Turner said. “We want to see quick decisions, pull the trigger, go where you need to go quickly and then make something happen.

“If it’s one-on-one down the field – and I’ve said that since the day I got here – I want the ball thrown. Give the guy a chance to go for it. Once your quarterback does that a couple times, and receivers make plays, the more times you do it.”

Status of Halsey

E.B. Halsey suffered a sprained MCL in his left leg Saturday and missed the second half of the game. Turner said the injury occurred on the first punt return. Halsey was underneath the pile and got twisted.

“E.B.’s status is day-to-day/week-to-week,” Turner said. “I already saw E.B. (Monday) and he said he felt much, much better than (Sunday). So, I wouldn’t rule him out for this week yet, but I would say it’s probably questionable right now.”

Sitting out

Sophomore tight end Melvin Bryant didn’t travel to Saturday’s game against Michigan State.

Turner said Bryant will not play against Michigan and his team status for the rest of the season will be determined after the game.

Turner said he suspended him for violating team rules.