Tuesday Football Tidbits

Quick hitting news and notes from Illinois' first spring practice Tuesday.

A few inches of snow on the ground and plenty more coming down forced Illinois indoors Tuesday afternoon for the first practice of spring drills. The original plan was to go for about two-and-a-half hours in Memorial Stadium. There was no possible way to do that Tuesday. So the move was made to the indoor facility, which suited me just fine.

- I spent all of my time Tuesday watching the offense. Here's what I saw...

- The abrupt departure of OL coach Jim Bridge to Purdue made for a few changes as well. From what I gathered, the official announcement is expected Wednesday and the move clearly places Illinois in an odd situation. Graduate assistant Drew Nystrom was guiding the unit through fundamental work early on Tuesday. OC Bill Cubit, I'm told, will slide over and help out as often as needed. After all, it's his offense and he's in charge of more than just quarterbacks. A replacement will be needed quickly and I'm told the hiring process will be sped up if necessary (on the admin side of things) to get a guy in and hit the ground running.

- Speaking of Cubit -- my initial impressions of him are extremely positive, in the limited amount of time I got to view. The team started out with a light warm-ups, grouped by position. Wide receivers Ryan Lankford, Spencer Harris and Steve Hull were throwing a ball around and Cubit came over to kid around with Lankford for a bit. He wound up his arm and threw a few bullets to Hull and Harris. Coach still has it, let me tell you. At one point Hull, who moved over from safety after last season, leaped up to catch a ball that likely would have hit a group of reporters (I won't comment if I was included or not). Thankfully (for everybody else and, you know, not me at all because I wasn't over there), Hull has hands.

- The team then broke out into offense/defense and ran through some formation stuff. I've been asked not to get into the specifics of too much, but I'll see what I can get away with telling you guys (it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission). Nathan Scheelhaase was the first QB up with the first team offense while running through a list of basic plays. The skill guys rotated -- Donovonn Young, Josh Ferguson and Dami Ayoola getting equal time at RB and the WRs and TEs mixing in and out as well. Scheelhaase ran through a handful of plays and then Reilly O'Toole came in and played a similar set list.

- Here's the original line that started out together while running through those basic plays: LT Simon Cvijanovic, LG Alex Hill, C Tony Durkin, RG Ted Karras, RT Corey Lewis. Keep in mind, it's the first day so these rotations could and probably will change as we move along. Just giving you an idea what they're working with at this point.

- Developing a center to take over for departed Graham Pocic is a priority early on. Durkin, Hill, Joe Spencer, Jake Feldmeyer each took turns snapping to the quarterbacks in an early drill. Remember, Feldmeyer spent time there last season when Pocic was injured. It appears all four will be given an equal opportunity though and like I mentioned above, Durkin was out there with the first unit early on.

- On the QBs -- Nathan and Reilly are real close friends and both seemed care free and glad to be back at Tuesday. Nothing to read into at this stage, but I don't think we'll see much change throughout spring on that front. They'll both get reps and both will have good attitudes.

- TE Jon Davis won't do much this spring as he rehabs from offseason surgery He wasn't out there at all Tuesday.

- Coach Mike Bellamy was working with a host of players at KR. Given what Bellamy did as a KR at Illinois, this makes perfect sense.

- Pocic, Terry Hawthorne, Hugh Thornton and Justin Green were on hand at practice. They're working out in Champaign for the time being and will participate in Pro Day on Thursday.

That's all I have for now. It's still snowing, but the show goes on. I'll take a closer look at the defense Thursday.


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