Leshoure, Scheelhaase honored for offensive stats against Michigan

Following Saturday’s 67-65 loss at Michigan that featured video game-like numbers from both offenses, Illinois junior running back Mikel Leshoure and redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase were recognized Monday by the Big Ten for their individual performances.

Leshoure was named the Big Ten’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week after registering 172 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns.

Scheelhaase was awarded the conferences’ Freshman of the Week for the game, which included four total touchdowns and 312 yards of total offense.

“It’s definitely fun to score points and see your offense execute what you’ve been practicing all week,” Leshoure said. “For the most part, we didn’t beat ourselves, and the score showed.”

Leshoure produced 120 yards on the ground on 24 carries, and also hauled in 52 receiving yards on two receptions, both of which were touchdowns.

Both of Leshoure’s touchdown receptions came on the same play — a wheel route out of a two-back formation.

“We run so much option out of that two-back set, and then you have two guys running posts, it’s a real hard play to defend,” offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said.

During last week’s 44-10 win against Purdue, the same play led to a 20-yard touchdown reception for Leshoure.

“(Petrino) calls it when it’s going to work,” Leshoure said. “It’s been there every time we’ve called it, so when I hear that my number’s getting called for that play, I get pretty excited about that.”

“The way it’s designed, the safety has to take one of us,” Leshoure added.

“He has to take either the receiver or the running back. Usually they’ll take the receiver, especially when our receivers are coming out of the breaks and running real hard, so it’s kind of like a decoy.”

Leshoure was able to post his fifth 100-yard rushing game this season despite missing several series in the second quarter after bruising his knee.

Junior running back Jason Ford filled in during that time, notching a 62-yard touchdown run en route to 91 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Scheelhaase also posted his second-straight 100-yard rushing game, contributing 101 rushing yards on 21 carries. He also completed 14 of 25 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I thought Nathan had another unbelievable game,” Illinois head coach Ron Zook said. “I don’t think we could have asked Nate to do a lot more.”

This week marks the fifth time this season Scheelhaase has been named the conference’s top freshman.

In the last two games, Scheelhaase has totaled eight touchdowns with no interceptions.

“He’s very composed and calm,” Leshoure said of Scheelhaase.

“He doesn’t get flustered when he has to scramble, and he’s used to throwing the ball on the run.”