Bower set to start Saturday

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By Lisa Koulias

Redshirt freshman Brad Bower is the definite starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Indiana. It was the same way last week, too.

In his second career start on Saturday, Bower led the offense to a touchdown on its first drive, but was unable to get anything going after that.

Bower – who played three quarters of the game – was just 10-of-17 for 81 yards, while senior quarterback Jon Beutjer, who only played in the fourth quarter, was 12-of-25 with 129 yards.

Although Beutjer did give the Illini a bit of a spark – something head coach Ron Turner has been talking about all season – Turner is not handing the reins back to Beutjer because of the situation.

“Looking at the performance, Jon did a lot of good things,” Turner said. “I think it was the situation in which Jon came in. We had the wind; we were going to start throwing it. We came into this game really wanting to spread it out and open it up and throw the ball against these guys.

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    “We had (the wind) in the first quarter but we only had two possessions and one of them was back on the (2-yard line). In the second and third quarter, it was almost impossible to throw. You could throw short things and all that, but it was tough. And Jon went in, did some nice things, and I think he did give us a little bit of a spark, but I think a lot of it had to do with the situation.”

    In the first quarter, where the Illini had the 40 mph winds to their advantage, Bower was 4-of-6 with 41 yards and a touchdown. But in the second and third quarters, he was only able to pass for 40 more yards because the Illini faced the wind.

    “When Brad was in, it was difficult to judge how he did,” Turner said. “He did a real nice job in the first drive and he took us right down and we scored. And then we are backed up on the 2-yard line and he threw a nice pass to Kendrick (Jones) to get us out of the hole, and then the rest of the time he was in, we were battling the conditions, which really limited what we could do and what we could call.”

    Thomas ready to go

    After seeing very limited action in Saturday’s game against Iowa, running back Pierre Thomas is expected to be 100 percent by game time on Saturday against Indiana.

    “Pierre should be fine,” Turner said. “He practiced yesterday. He looked good. He’ll practice this week and should be full-speed.”

    Thomas is second in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards with an average of 139.9 per game. He saw some playing time on Saturday but had no carries.

    Season spoilers

    “We just want to play upsetters now. It’s a sad thing to say, but we feel like we didn’t make it and we don’t want to be the reason why a team does make it. Basically, we want to win. It’s not all about making teams suffer like we are. We are just about winning also.”

    – safety Kelvin Hayden