Illinois football plagued by injury

By Charlotte Carroll, Staff writer

When reporters told Lunt what head coach Bill Cubit had shared with media only minutes earlier, Lunt let some emotion and surprise show.

“Dang it,” Lunt said. “So yeah, that’s kind of been our story.”

Enyenihi, who sprained his knee in Illinois’ 39-0 loss to Penn State on Saturday, is the latest in a string of injuries for the offensive side of the Illini.

Cubit announced last week that wide receivers Mike Dudek and Justin Hardee are out for the season with injuries.

On the rushing front, running back Josh FergusonJT has been sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 5 against Nebraska. Running backs Dre Brown and Reggie Corbin are both out for the season with injuries.

With Enyenihi out, the pressure is on freshman running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn who rushed for 38 yards on 15 carries. In the Wisconsin game, he had 55 rushing yards on 13 carries.

“I thought he played really well against Wisconsin, and this game here he didn’t play as well,” Cubit said. “You just keep on adding more responsibility to him … you don’t know what goes on in the mind of a true freshman.”

Cubit said Ferguson will practice this week and that the team will have a good idea whether he will play Wednesday.

“The more teams play man-to-man, you need great athletes out there and that’s what Josh is.” Lunt said. “Just having him back from a mental standpoint and what he does out on the field would be huge.”

Bowling goals

Illinois (4-4, Big Ten 1-3) is still looking to qualify for a bowl in its remaining four games.

Entering the November portion of its schedule last season, the team was 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten.

“It’s definitely not as panic mood as it was a year ago,” offensive lineman Ted Karras said. “It’s going to come down to execution, and we can’t lay eggs like we did a year ago.”

Karras said that walking into the press conference after losing to Purdue last year was much more grim than Monday’s presser after the Penn State loss.

“We’re on a three-game losing streak,” Karras said. “That’s definitely going to wear you down a little but what’s great about college football is were playing in five to six days. There’s no time to pout.”

[email protected]

@charlottecrrll