QB Jon Beutjer

2003 Statistics

Coach: Ron Turner
32-49, 7years
2003 Record: 1-11
vs. Missouri LOST 15-22
at UCLA LOST 3-6
at Purdue LOST 10-43
at Michigan LOST 14-56
at Iowa LOST 10-41
at Indiana LOST 14-17

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

After winning the Big Ten in 2001, Illinois has only prevailed in six of its 24 games since. Ron Turner has had the talent, but the projected success hasn't come through. This year's team has some holes and not much is to be expected from them. That said, it is prime for the Illini to take advantage of the sleeping opposition.

Beutjer gives them a great starting point on offense. Halsey follows with even more importance; he has to get more touches. Really, what good is having a fancy sports car unless you get it on the road and drive it? Turner knows this and should give Halsey plenty of chances to become an all-Big-Ten-type back. This doesn't mean the passing game and receivers can go to sleep. As you read here, Illinois will improve its offensive numbers and get back to being an offensive threat again. If the play calling has more runs than pass, look for Beutjer to return to form and Halsey to pick up (at least) second team conference honors, putting Illinois in the endzone more than their 23 times a season ago.

Defensively, that more aggressive attitude and better effort has to not only show through, but raise the roof. As a defense, this squad is not accomplished as a unit, lacking needed cohesiveness amongst the units. They lack the size and strength to hang, especially since they play in the Big Ten. They'll struggle against the run, then "cheat up" near the line of scrimmage, and teams will take advantage of them over the top. We think Hayden will be a pleasant surprise at corner, but we are not sold on Virgil at SS. Ultimately, this defense is doomed and the LBs will get worn out from making all the tackles, thus consistently weakening the middle of the field.

If they can steal home wins against UCLA and Purdue, this team could flirt with a seven- or eight-win season - but don't bet on it. With all of this potential talent, they will assuredly beat one they shouldn't and lose one they should. A more reasonable outlook would be three to five wins. Turner's (contract is) good through 2007, but a 3-8 record would give him just nine wins in three seasons. Better surprise us, Ron, or it will be a bitter, flat Champaign by season's end.

Projected 2004 record: 3-8
CB/WR Kelvin Hayden
QB - 3.5 DL - 1
RB - 2.5 LB - 2
WR - 2 DB - 3
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Jon Beutjer, 257-162-9, 1597 yds., 10 TD

Rushing: E.B. Halsey, 140 att., 525 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Kelvin Hayden, 52 rec., 592 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: E.B. Halsey, 7 TD, 42 pts.

Punting: Steve Weatherford, 46 punts, 44.5 avg.

Kicking: none

Tackles: Matt Sinclair, 129 tot., 61 solo

Sacks: Matt Sinclair, Scott Moss - 4 sacks each

Interceptions: Travis Williams, 1 int.

Kickoff returns: E.B. Halsey, 16 ret., 23.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: E.B. Halsey, 8 ret., 9.9 avg., 1 TD


OFFENSE: Sean Bubin-OT, Dustin Ward-QB, Carey Davis-FB, John Gockman-K
DEFENSE: Derrick Strong-DE, Jeff Ruffin-DT, Charles Gilstrap-DT, Winston Taylor-LB, Joe Bevis-LB, Ty Myers-LB, Christian Morton-CB, Marc Jackson-SS

Jon Beutjer has been given an extra year by the NCAA. After enjoying success in 2002, Beutjer was sideline with injury after the seventh 2003 game. Now, he comes back to try and help this squad to pose more of a threat than last season's anemic "offense". Beutjer has good size, a strong arm, and the capacity to carve a defense. Where he runs into trouble is when he is forced out of the pocket or hurried - he needs to work on his "pocket presence". He seemingly has lost the cool touch he had in '02, and, for both Turner's and the team's sake, he needs to get it back. When he falls, Illini fans will be eager to see the future, Chris Pazan; though, both QBs need to cut down on the INTs.

Running Back
Ron Turner admits E.B. Halsey can potentially do anything, but has done little to prove that to the rest of the world. He vows to give the ball to Halsey as much as it takes to get results, and that will be just what this offense needs. Halsey only averaged 15 carries a game last year, and at a mere 3.8 yards per carry clip. This was mainly because the Illini often found themselves down by the second quarter of many contests and relied on their rather poor passing game to compensate. Pierre Thomas quietly averaged over five YPC and had a solid spring game. Fullbacks Jason Davis and (freshman) Brock Bolen will provide a good balance. Any and all backs in the lineup are adept at catching the football and will be used accordingly.

Wide Receiver
Holes on defense took '03 leading flanker Kelvin Hayden from the offense. Despite the inexperience and minimal output last season, Illinois is quite alright in this area. Ade Adeyemo is the leader of the group and acquires his success through great work ethic. But he's just the tip of the iceberg. Hurst, Kornfeld, Jones, and DeJuan Warren will give defenses match-up problems, enabling Beutjer to spread the field effectively which will really allow Halsey to wreak havoc on the ground. Some claim that establishing a go-to guy is key, but, in this case, we beg to differ. Effectively utilizing talent in a balanced fashion prevents a defense from stacking and multi-covering a receiver, allowing them to take an offense out of its gameplan.

Tight End and Offensive Line
Melvin Bryant is the only TE posing a real threat catching the football. Anthony McClellan is better used as a run-blocker, though both could improve in that area.
The entire offense will benefit from an offensive line returning four starters. Pass protection was okay, but run blocking was pathetic. Preston is the bell-cow, while fellow seniors Koch and Babcock provide worthy allies. The magnifying glass is on new left tackle J.J. Simmons. He steps in for Sean Bubin and will be imperative in keeping Beutjer healthy. Aside from that, they need to focus on run-blocking; step it up or get stepped on!

Turner's teams used to succeed with the pass, but its time to utilize the strengths they have. Halsey is likely to be around for two, maybe three more years. Giving him more carries will only help his confidence, his game-shape, and, ultimately, the offense. More of a zone-blocking scheme would work well with this group, giving Halsey more of a crease to bust open. Beutjer is marginal when made to pass, so defenses will be stacking the box until he proves opposing secondaries should stay back (or else). Shifting the man at the helm midseason will only affect the momentum of this seemingly withdrawn offense. But, if Jon falters, the future will imminently happen as Pazan then becomes worthy of developmental focus.


RB E.B. Halsey


Returning Starters in bold
QB Jon Beutjer-Sr (6-5, 211) Chris Pazan-So (6-2, 210)
Tim Brasic-So (6-2, 185)
FB Jason Davis-Jr (5-11, 220) Brock Bolen-Fr (6-1, 230)
RB E.B. Halsey-So (5-11, 185) Pierre Thomas-So (5-11, 190)
Marcus Mason-So (5-9, 200)
WR Ade Adeyemo-Sr (6-0, 195) Mark Kornfeld-Sr (6-1, 200)
WR Lonnie Hurst-So (6-3, 190) Kendrick Jones-Jr (6-1, 180)
TE Melvin Bryant-So (6-5, 235) Anthony McClellan-Sr (6-3, 245)
OT J.J. Simmons-So (6-6, 290) Jim LaBonte-Fr (6-7, 300)
OG Bryan Koch-Sr (6-3, 285) Martin O'Donnell-Fr (6-5, 290)
Dave Hilderbrand-Sr (6-3, 290)
C Duke Preston-Sr (6-5, 305) Ben Amundsen-Fr (6-6, 305)
OG Matt Maddox-So (6-4, 290) Jordan Kruger-Jr (6-4, 285)
OT Bucky Babcock-Sr (6-4, 305) James Ryan-Fr (6-6, 310)
K Steve Weatherford-Jr (6-4, 205) ..



Defensive Line
This is an area that needs help. They lost their best pass rusher and are undersized up front. Juniors Scott Moss and Ryan Matha will steady this crew and the return of Mike O'Brien gives them relative experience. But, as we all know, experience alone doesn't stop the run. Proving such, neither could the Illini, who finished dead last in the Big Ten and 111th in all of I-A, giving up 278 YPG on the ground. D-line coach Donnie Thompson needs to get this group going, the way he got things out of his famed D-linemen at North Carolina. It's going to be another long year in the Big Ten trenches.

The linebacker tradition in Champaign is well storied and again, the Illini should have one of the Big Ten's best trios. Sinclair led the conference in tackles (129) and brings a bulldog mentality. He's got a sixth sense about him that allows him to find the ball quickly and efficiently. Teaming with him are Josh Tischer, Mike Gawelek, and Antonio Mason. Mason is listed as a backup, but a strong performance last season and a solid spring lead us to believe he'll thrust himself into the lineup and be a valuable contributor to this corps.

Defensive Back
A single deck of cards in a Las Vegas poker game wouldn't be shuffled nearly as much as the Illini secondary has been the past few years. As stated above, Kelvin Hayden was brought over to compensate for the loss of Christian Morton at corner. The other switch was former RB Morris Virgil to the SS position. Both have good size for their positions, and, with their offensive mentalities, they can apply such to defensive tactics. Still, nothing equates to game experience, and they have none. Veteran Travis Williams must take charge of this crew and build upon last year's marginal success against the pass (35th in pass defense, but 96th in pass-efficiency defense). The Illini finished fourth in the Big Ten in pass defense, though only picking off but TWO passes!

Newly promoted defensive coordinator Mike Mallory claims, "We're coming off the ball better. Our tackling is better. The effort is there. Guys are playing hard and there's some pretty good hitting going on". Well coach, that's all talk for now. This year's squad must be tougher in the pit. They're going to get pushed around and knocked off the ball, so a stacked front is a likely ploy, putting a lot of pressure to the converted DBs to step up. If Illinois can develop to the point of consistently stopping the run, this defense will be able to live up to its potential instead of constantly shifting a "patch work" mentality from weakness to marginal weakness.


LB Matt Sinclair


Returning Starters in bold
DE Mike O'Brien-Sr (6-6, 225) James Stevenson-Fr (6-3, 240)
DT Ryan Matha-Jr (6-1, 285) Adam Wilk-So (6-5, 275)
DT Mike Maloney-Sr (6-3, 280) Chris Norwell-Fr (6-7, 270)
DE Scott Moss-Jr (6-3, 260) Arthur Boyd-So (6-3, 265)
LB Josh Tischer-Jr (6-1, 215) Antonio Mason-Jr (6-0, 245)
LB Mike Gawelek-Sr (6-2, 230) Joe Mele-Fr (6-2, 225)
LB Matt Sinclair-Sr (6-3, 240) J Leman-Fr (6-3, 220)
CB Kelvin Hayden-Sr (6-0, 198) James Cooper-Jr (5-11, 200)
CB Alan Ball-So (6-1, 175) Sharriff Abdullah-So (5-8, 180)
SS Morris Virgil-Sr (5-10, 195) Brian Brosnan-Jr (6-1, 205)
FS Travis Williams-Jr (6-1, 185) Kyle Kleckner-Jr (6-0, 195)
P Steve Weatherford-Jr (6-4, 205) Matt Minnes-Sr (6-2, 195)




Steve Weatherford handled kickoffs previously and will now step in for the sturdy John Gockman. He possesses a strong leg and though his accuracy is a bit of a concern, Turner claims he has the utmost confidence in him. Illinois kickers currently hold a streak of 189 consecutive PATs. Weatherford was one of the better punters in the Big Ten, averaging 44.5 yards per kick. He has a good handle on the placement of his kicks, pinning 8 inside the 20. The task of handling both placekicking and punting could show some wear as the year goes on.

Return Game
This is an area though, where the Illini need to improve. They only averaged 19 yards per return on kicks and seven on punts. Halsey gets the nod on punts, while Virgil and Hayden get first crack at kicks. If Halsey gets the increase in carries expected from Turner, his role should become minimized in the return game.