Justin DuVernois: (last week: 12) - Costume: Vice President - Give a good speech (first in the Big Ten with 42.4 average per punt). Nobody cares. Shake some hands, pose for photos, kiss some babies (39 yard net average). Yawn. But shoot a close friend or completely put your foot in your mouth and suddenly everybody wants to talk about you. Despite his overall stellar play this season, DuVernois' poor punt against Penn State is still being talked about. Tough gig, but such is a punter's life. And yeah, I went all bi-partisan on the bad example. You like that, don't you? Everybody, regardless of affiliation (or affliction), is subject to linkage in the Dirty Dozen.
Ryan Lankford: (8) - Costume: Secretariat - Lankford is the fastest dude on the team and has shown on a few occasions how important that can be on the field (Western Michigan, eh). He started the year off great: 23 catches, 347 yards and four touchdowns in the first five games. Perhaps it's because the offense has struggled as a whole, the o-line has struggled to pass block or Lankford's small frame makes it easy to physically take him off his routes, but since then his production has fallen off. His last three games: six catches, 66 yards and one score. Being the fastest guy is cool. Real cool. But not when there's no track to run on.
Steve Hull: (not rated) - Costume: John Rambo - It's inevitable -- Hull's gonna get hurt. He's gonna bleed. He's gonna make weird, I'm-in-pain faces. But he's gonna come back and get an interception or kill his way out of an impossible situation. Probably just an interception. Hull is once again (for at least the third time this year) battling a shoulder injury this week. He might not play this Saturday. But I bet he will next week. And he'll probably do something to let you know he's back.
Darius Millines: (not rated) - Costume: LL Cool J - Don't call it a comeback, but Millines is alive and well. He led the team last week with five catches for 80 yards. He's another one of those if-only-he-was-healthy-he-could-have-done-this-and-that type players on this year's team. A healthy Millines, which in the least has to be respected by defensive backs, would do wonders for Secretariat, too. And OK, yeah, so the LL reference was used so I could quote the song Mama Said Knock You Out. That's all I've got...
Terry Hawthorne: (10) - Movie: Psycho - No, I don't think Hot Sauce talks to dead relatives on a regular basis. But I often wonder, what does this dude have going on? I asked him last week, How does it feel to be finally healthy after dealing with the concussion and the ankle injury? He responded: "What ankle injury?" Um… you know, the one that plagued you all through August and September. Yeah, that one. Even when you think you know what's up, you don't. And even when you actually do know what's going on, he'll claim that you don't.
Nathan Scheelhaase: (7) - Movie: Friday the 13th - Seriously, what it going to take to kill this guy off? Much like Jason, Scheelhaase takes his share of tough blows and always comes back for more. Ankle, concussion, ankle (again), terrible offense, subpar o-line, subpar receivers -- Scheelhaase takes it and keeps moving forward. I have a feeling, late in November, Northwestern will be peacefully floating in a boat, minding it's own business and them, WHAM, Scheelhaase comes out of the lake, a player left for dead only to return for one final run.
Akeem Spence: (5) - Costume: Honey Boo Boo Child - Because that would be funny.
Michael Buchanan: (4) - Candy: Sour Patch Kids - Just get through the first couple of bitter seconds (four more games) Michael. Tastier days are ahead of you (NFL).
Mason Monheim: (3) - Costume: Anthony Davis - Grab a No. 23 Hornets jersey and Sharpie. Color in that unibrow and you're set. Davis is going to play a lot this season. And no, he's not going to be dominant or a top player in the league. But he'll show signs of greatness (interception against CSU). He'll have eight blocks in one game (Penn State performance). And in two or three years, he'll be ready to lead a team (still to be determined).
Donovonn Young: (6) - Movie: The Shining - Never mind that many a running back has struggled at Illinois -- Young pays no mind to it. He signs up and thinks he can buck the trend. He's plenty talented enough, but soon he starts seeing Beatty and Gonzales on tricycles, running lanes look like hedge mazes and please, for the love of all things that are good, don't go near Locker No. 237.
Jonathan Brown: (1) - Movie: Jaws - Glancing blows (sprained ankles) do little to slow this monster. Brown struggled with that injury for most of October, but still leads the team with 55 tackles. This football team is down -- way down. But opposing offensive players should know, just beyond the line of scrimmage, a little more than knee deep in the football water, Brown is waiting. Cue the music, Spielberg!
Ashante Williams: (2) - Candy: Candy Corn - Twix, Skittles, Kit Kat -- those will move the meter when you're handing out candy this Halloween. Hey, those are great choices and the kids will love you. But put out a bowl of candy corn on the coffee table during a par-tay -- see how long it lasts. I don't know why, but candy corn is good sh#%. I never buy it. I never think about it. But I'll eat every single one you put on that coffee table.
So that's the Dirty Dozen, version 10.0. Until next week, the rest are steady chasing Williams. Check back each Wednesday for the latest installment. T-shirts, if you'll just wear the damn things