The Dirty Dozen -- Version 8.0

CHAMPAIGN - IlliniPlaybook's player power rankings for the team's bye week.

12. Justin DuVernois: (last week: not rated) - I know what you're thinking -- placing a punter on this list would be like casting Kelsey Grammar in a pirate movie. Avast, DuVernois averaged nearly 46 yards a punt last week, and Illinois is now second in the conference in net punting average. Listen lads, the rest of the team certainly wasn't pillaging, meaning DuVernois was arrrrguably the team MVP for the game. Am I out of pirate references? Not even close, but let's move on.

11. Pat Nixon-Youman: (not rated) - Yeah, we're singing the bye week blues here -- a punter is on the list. But Nixon-Youman had a good game last week, nothing special. I heard his name called often (four tackles) and it's still hyphenated. He's no Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond in the name game, but, really, who is? Pat is enjoying a solid senior season, so that's something.


10. Terry Hawthorne: (7) - My theory still stands -- no hot sauce, no defensive attitude. Denard Robinson beasting may have had more to do with it, but not having Hawthorne out there put a damper on things. Terry needed this time off more than Ferris Bueller. Terry Hawthorne's Week Off -- day bow bow, chicka chicka…


09. Justin Green: (not rated) - He did have four tackles Saturday, but given the current state of things, I've awarded Green a place on the list solely because I think he could win a 40-yard dash team tournament. In my eyes, his only competition would be…


08. Ryan Lankford: (6) - Lankford is fast, at least the second fastest man on the team. Might be the fastest. Unfortunately his speed can't be utilized if the team can't pass… Or run block in the event he is given a sweep or reverse. He's like the noodles in a bowl of broth, just waiting for some hunks of chicken to help the overall product out.


07. Nathan Scheelhaase: (4) - Speaking of some time off, maybe Scheelhaase should call Ferris up. Make the two hour drive to Chicago and check out a Cubs playoff game. Wait, a White Sox playoff game. Wait… (ducking).


06. Donovonn Young: (9) - Hand it to Young, he was doing work in the first quarter against Michigan. Sadly, not only did the pass game not show up -- wait, it actually did show up, complained about the noise, called the cops and completely killed the party. The offense isn't creative, lacks explosiveness, isn't consistent and it can't score. Other than that, it's doing OK. Young, last week at least, is the rose growing on the sidewalk.


05. Akeem Spence: (8) - Not that the defense is playing any better, but Spence will be playing in the NFL one day. I think.


04. Michael Buchanan: (3) - NFL one day. I think. It's almost like some of these defensive guys answered a phone call in June about a time share on the beach. Right now they're sitting through the terrible meetings and sales pitches before they can enjoy a nice, long vacation.


03. Mason Monheim: (5) - I'm sure Monheim was happy his paperwork went through. Sometime last week he changed his name from "Mason Monheim, just a freshman" to: Mason Monheim. Let's play Stats on Stats on Stats. Today's episode centers on Mason Monheim. He is now third on the team with 42 tackles. That's six a game. The Illinois career leader in tackles is, say it with me, Dana Howard (shame on you. I'm from Georgia and I knew that), with 595 takedowns. If Monheim kept his current pace, he'd finish with 288 tackles at Illinois. Had you going for a second, didn't I? You thought I was going to say he was on pace to break the record, didn't you? But wait, Monheim has averaged 8.3 tackles in his last three games. At that clip, he'd finish with 398 stops -- which would put him No. 7 all-time. Given that he's only played seven games, I think his average will only increase. And it would help if Illinois could make it the Big Ten championship or a bowl game -- I provided the estimated totals using 12 game seasons. For the record, Howard put up 12.25 tackles per game as a freshman in 1991. #freak.


02. Ashante Williams: (2) - While I've got my calculator out, and shoes and socks off, let's keep going. Williams is averaging 6.9 takedowns per game. As the team leader with 48 stops, he's on pace for 82 tackles this season. Since 1971, the team's leading tackler finished with less than 83 tackles only three times (Mike Weingrad, '82, Sam Ellsworth, '84, Kevin Mitchell, '05). What does all this mean? I haven't the slightest clue.


01. Jonathan Brown: (1) - Why isn't Jonathan Brown starting? I mean, I get that he's hurt, which is the explanation given by Beckman. But he comes in on the second series and plays the rest of the game… So… yeah. He's only hurt for the first series of the game, I suppose. Maybe it's because he's not getting full reps through the week, due to the injury, and the coaching staff wants to reward players who practice all week… ? Maybe. That would be like using a cheap, pay as you go cell phone to occupy the first 10 minutes of your boring anthropology class because you're upset you had to charge your iPhone longer during the week. You guys can play snake all you want to -- I'd rather hit that 4G and drown out the boring mess going on around me.


So that's the Dirty Dozen, version 8.0. Until next week, the rest are steady chasing Brown (again). Check back each Wednesday for the latest installment. T-shirts, if you'll just wear the damn things in public, handed out for free on your way out. I mean it -- wear them! Please.

Oh, and just for fun…

On the cusp: Everyone. At this stage, with a punter on board this vessel, every spot is up for grabs.

New to the group: DuVernois bounces into the group, downed at the 12 spot (that was a lame punter joke. Two actually). Nixon-Youman makes it three new faces on stage.

Biggest rise: Spence and Young up three spots each, currently two sparrows in a hurricane (I should probably retire this now that I've quoted Tanya Tucker).

Biggest drop: Scheelhaase and Hawthorne, down three. Day bow bow… Oh, yeeeaaaaahhhhhhh.

Top freshman: Svetina -- that pay as you go phone thing wasn't intended as a slight toward you. You know how it goes...

Fresh to death shoutout: To the Tios Mexican Cafe in Ann Arbor. Your atmosphere is tasty and the beer is inviting.


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