Chris Beatty Eager To Coach Quarterbacks

Some Fighting Illini football fans blame co-coordinators for problems with the 2008 and 2009 defenses. They are thus leery of having two men designated to share offensive coordinator by new coach Tim Beckman. But Billy Gonzales and Chris Beatty have no qualms about the arrangement. Beatty is eager to coach quarterbacks and share ideas with the offensive staff.

Chris Beatty has an impressive resume, both as a coach and recruiter. New Illinois football coach Tim Beckman has known him since recruiting one of his players when he coached high school ball. The former Vanderbilt and West Virginia assistant is eager to get started in his new role.

"I'm excited to have an opportunity to work with the quarterbacks and the opportunity to help develop a championship program."

Part of the lure of the Illini job for Beatty was the chance to advance his chances of becoming a head coach someday. Being named a co-coordinator for offense was a step in that direction.

"I think all of us want to take our game to another level. That's as a coach as well. We want to put ourselves in a position to be the best coach we can be. I've studied the coaching of quarterbacks because I wanted to be a coordinator and be in this position. Coach Beckman was gracious enough to give me that opportunity."

Another selling point was the chance to work with outstanding individuals on the new offensive staff.

"Any time you're working with good people, that's a bonus. Billy Gonzales is proven; he's been in championships and knows what he's doing. Tim Salem has been a coordinator before, so he knows what he's doing.

"Alex Golesh was part of an offense that scored 60 points in back-to-back games. And Luke Butkus has been in the NFL. We are all going to work together."

Gonzales will be calling plays on Saturdays, but Beatty and the other coaches will have an equal say in the final product.

"It's not Billy's offense or Chris Beatty's offense, it's the Illini offense. We are all going to bring different ideas to the table and try to put us in a position to be successful. It's all about us; it's not about one person's vision, it's about our vision. If we do all that, we'll have a chance to be successful."

Beatty has coached receivers and running backs more recently than quarterbacks, but he is confident he is ready for the task of developing Illini signal callers.

"All that stuff goes hand-in-hand with the quarterback and receivers. You always try to work the game where you can grow and get an opportunity like this to coach the quarterbacks. I've been looking forward to it."

He has already touched bases with upcoming junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, approaching his third year as a starter at Illinois. First impressions were positive.

"He came into the office the first weekend we were here. We sat down and watched the bowl games. I had an opportunity to pick his brain a little bit on what he was doing in the past and what he was thinking as a quarterback. And I got to tell him a few things we were gonna do here. He's a delightful young man, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with him.

"I think he fits what we want to do. I think he's got all the things leadership-wise that we need. He's proven on the field that he can march a team up and down the field. And he can come back in tough situations, I've seen that.

"I look forward to working with him. We're looking forward to working with all the players and building a program and an offense that's going to help us win championships."

Scheelhaase does not have the position locked up. Beatty also has Reilly O'Toole, Miles Osei and Chase Haslett in his quarterback group. O'Toole shared time with Scheelhaase as a freshman, and the others have promise as well. Is Beatty anticipating running a two-quarterback system?

"We did a little bit of that last year at Vanderbilt. I don't know what we're going to do here. We're going to do what's best for Illini football. If both of them need to play, then they'll both play.

"We look forward to working with Reilly and helping his game grow, just like we are with Nate and all the other players at the position. We want to put them in a position to be successful. If that means playing two quarterbacks to help us win, we'll do that. If we need to play three, we'll do that."

Beatty will work closely with Gonzales on game-planning. Gonzales will call plays on Saturdays, but otherwise both will share the responsibility of preparing the team.

"You sit down and you talk some things through, try to take the best of everybody's ideas. That's what we try to do as an offense. Right now, Coach Gonzales and I are trying to put together what the Illinois offense will be. Some of his ideas from Florida and some of mine from West Virginia, you put those ideas together to make the best offense you can and go from there.

"A lot of the game plan is no different. You do all the same things during the week, and then during the game, you call it off the sheet of ideas you put together during the week. We'll be on the same page by game day. I think we'll get along fine."

The Illini will be a spread offense for the most part, but Beatty promises the coaching staff will adapt to the abilities of the players.

"I come from a background of spread offense, so I kind of believe in that. I believe in up-tempo and trying to do some different things in that regard. But at the same time, we're going to put our players in a position to be successful. We have a system that's multiple enough to use whatever talents they have."

Beatty is expected to continue his reputation as an outstanding recruiter. His recruiting territories cover a vast area.

"I'm going to have the Illinois side of St. Louis. I'll be in Tampa, I'll be in D.C. and Maryland and other points East."

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