Q&A: Scheelhaase Speaks

CHAMPAIGN – Now entering his third season as the starter, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is ready to take the next step.

Not only the head man in the huddle, the junior signal caller has continued to improve as a vocal leader away from the field.

He met with the media Monday to discuss his development in the new offense, the playmakers he'll lean on and much, much more…

Now that you've gotten into the flow of what coach Tim Beckman expects, how have practices been going?

NS: "They're good. I think we've gotten a lot better. Each practice we've come out here and had that mentality that we need to get better. There's not a day that goes by we can waste and not a day that goes by we can let slip away. We have to come out and stay focused and get better everyday. Coach Beckman has done a great job of letting us know that and telling us what he expects from each practice. I really think the players mindset has been good all the way throughout camp."

Have you seen somebody step up offensively at playmaker? Can you compare any of your playmakers to anybody from the past?

NS: "It's hard to compare people in year's past, and I think we have good enough players where they don't really need any comparisons. They're their own player and playing their own style. We've got a lot of players and I feel real confident, especially after this last scrimmage we had just in our playmakers at our skill positions. The guys on the outside, Ryan Lankford, Darius Millines and Spencer Harris, they all stepped up and made plays in the last scrimmage we had (last week). Really in the last few weeks they've been getting things rolling. Then you go to the backfield, we've got Josh (Ferguson) and Donovonn (Young) back there, as well as Jon Davis and Dami (Ayoola). All those guys have really stepped up to the plate, more so than I expected going into Week One. It's something I love to see. As a quarterback you love when your skill players are stepping up and making plays."

How do you feel about the offensive line at this point?

NS: "From a quarterbacks standpoint, you just want to make sure you pick up what the defense is bringing, make sure you're picking up the extra guys that may be blitzing. That's really what I have to focus on. I have confidence in the guys in front of me that they'll be able to stop the guys in front of them. It's just me making sure they're getting in front of the right guys."

Are you getting (cornerback Terry) Hawthorne involved in the offense

NS: "Yeah, trying to work him out there (at wide receiver). Obviously the whole game plan for Western Michigan isn't in, but, hey, I wouldn't be surprised to see him out there. If he wasn't I would feel confident in the guys we have out there. Like I said, our playmakers have really stepped up, more so than I really expected going into fall."

After two years with (former offensive coordinator) Paul Petrino, what's it like with new quarterback coach Chris Beatty?

NS: "It's been great. I've really enjoyed my time with coach Beatty, learned a whole lot from him. Just as far as an x and o standpoint, this offense is a whole lot different than the last one we were in, so it's been a lot to learn from that standpoint. I've enjoyed just being around. I think all the quarterbacks have. "

What's different (with the offense)?

NS: "The biggest thing is that we like spreading the ball around. We like getting the ball in different player's hands and getting a lot of playmakers involved in what we're doing. We like trying to use the whole field, we like trying to keep the defense on their heels and not allowing them to focus on one thing we do or one player we have. So that's been good, and just as far as a relationship, I think all the quarterback have built a pretty good relationship (with coach Beatty). He's pretty chill with us. He doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low. As a quarterback that's how you have to be on the field."

What's the next step for you?

NS: "I think the next step is to go out and beat Western Michigan. That's the thing that we've got to focus on now, and that I've got to focus on, is going out and getting wins and being consistent. Obviously everyone knows last year we had some ups and downs. I've talked about it before – it's just a matter of consistency. I think that that's one of the best things about college football and one of the best things about playing early in college football is that you get the chance to get better. You get the chance to work on the things you may wish you did better last year. I think that consistency is something I'm looking forward to improving."

At the beginning of last year when you were connecting passes with A.J. Jenkins, do you think you answered the critics about if you could pass the ball?

NS: "You know I'm not too worried about the critics. I'm hoping I make the defenses worry more. I guess that's the biggest thing. You always want to put pressure on defense. You want to have them worry about everything. You want to have them thinking that you're able to do a lot of things, especially at the quarterback position. The more I can make them worry about what I'm doing the better chance it gives out offense."

Is the offensive staff going to let you run the ball?

NS: "Yeah. Oh, yeah. They're going to let me run the ball for sure."

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