Column: Bullet point frenzy

By Darren Bailey

It’s back again this week. Darren Bailey’s Bullet Point Frenzy!

n More props to Alan Ball. He’s really starting to put it all together, playing smart, physical football. I love his height at corner, but he really could be playing out of position there. The former hurdling champion could be primed for an impressive 2006.

n Tim Brasic will be the quarterback on Saturday, and for good reason. He’s led the team into battle for 10 weeks now, and he deserves one more. There’s no where for him to go but up from the Purdue game, and he knows it. His emotional apology post-game proved that.

n Take a look at right tackle this week. The starter could be 6-foot-6, 320-pound behemoth Charles Myles. I’ll admit that I’ve been waiting three years now to see him make his impact. Myles has all the talent in the world, and with some dedication and work ethic could be looking at an NFL future. Big men aren’t supposed to be able to move like he does.

n With Myles playing at right tackle, redshirt freshman Ryan McDonald will move to left tackle. McDonald has grown and improved over the course of the season. This will be a real test for the youngster.

n Speaking of tests, the Illini defense will get one this week. Northwestern’s high-powered offense comes to town averaging over 31 points per game. The headliners of the offense are quarterback and former Illini target Brett Basanez from Arlington Heights and the Big Ten’s freshman and surprise of the year, running back Tyrell Sutton. The Wildcats run a spread formation and will probably attack the perimeter of the Illini defense.

n Northwestern does afford the Illini offense a chance to bounce back from last week’s showing. The Wildcats give up 33.5 points per game – the second most in the conference. The defense does feature another former Illini recruiting target, linebacker Tim McGarigle from Chicago St. Patrick, who ranks second in the Big Ten in tackles with 129.

n Let’s see if the Illini try to mash the ball a little bit following-up on their strong rushing performance in the first half against Purdue. Pierre Thomas had a big day, featuring a 35-yard run, his longest of the season, and Rashard Mendenhall added another 49 yards on just 9 carries. Mendenhall looks to have a nice future in the spread offense.

n Going back to the Purdue game, I didn’t see this get very much press attention, but James Cooper’s interception and return against Purdue was nearly fantastic. Well, it was fantastic … just didn’t get the touchdown. Cooper made the tough catch to begin with, and then had the presence of mind to start taking it back. His high school running back days paid off on the play, as he picked up some nice blocking to start the return. If only he had taken it down the sideline instead of to the middle of the field.

n Illinois gained two commitments over the past week, and it couldn’t be an odder couple. Kicker/punter Kyle Yelton from Chesterton, Ind., stands only 6-foot-1 and185 pounds, making him one of the smaller future Illini in this class. On the other hand, jumbo offensive lineman Jake Miller from Tuscarawas Valley, Ohio, surely will be the biggest signee. He’s 6-foot-6, 330 pounds and reportedly has “hands the size of a bunch of bananas.”

n I’m taking nominations for the football team’s “Best Hair” award. So far, candidates include J Leman’s mullet, Chris Norwell’s … um, Norwell, JJ Simmons’ shag and Xavier Fulton’s dreads-in-progress. Charles Bailey is a nominee twice, with both his braided and un-braided ‘do.

n Be sure to come out and support the Chief at Saturday’s football game. It could potentially be the last time that the Chief is seen on the gridiron after the NCAA’s recent ruling.

Darren Bailey is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]