The Reaction - Beckman @ Media Days

CHICAGO - Fletcher Page's thoughts on what Tim Beckman said at Big Ten Media Days.

Before reading Fletcher's thoughts, check out the Rundown to set the stage for the following article.

1) The quarterback position and, yeah, Nathan Scheelhaase is the starter.

Beckman mentioned Scheelhaase in his opening statement, making clear to point out he's excited to have the senior head into fall camp healthy. Then the first question Beckman fielded from the media contingent was about Scheelhaase.

Page: It's not even August and already I get the feeling Nathan Scheelhaase is going into a lose-lose situation. Beckman made mention of his senior signal caller on 11 occasions during his address, three times noting Scheelhaase is the starter.

But what happens if Illinois loses? How good is Aaron Bailey? How big of a get was Wes Lunt? Could Reilly O'Toole take over if needed?

I get that this is the way the sporting world spins nowadays, but you have to see what this line of thinking and questioning could do to Scheelhaase's psyche.

All he can do is be himself, give his best and delete his Twitter account. He doesn't need to feel the vibe of the outside world. More importantly, his only option is to win. That's become quite clear.

2) Dealing with depth, or a lack thereof.

Is the depth better now? Beckman didn't exactly say that, but he did express excitement for 33 new faces enrolled in the program, including five junior college players that provide age and at least some prior experience.

Page: The depth, especially on defense, is still sketchy. There's no denying that. 13 of the top 22 defensive players are either freshmen or sophomores. Say that sentence back to yourself out loud. Holy yikes!

While that's not Beckman's fault (see recruiting from 2010-12), it's now his problem to overcome. Junior college players Abe Cajuste, Eric Finney and Zane Petty will help on that side of the ball. I think Martize Barr could become a difference maker offensively.

Simply put, the Illini need a run of good health to maintain the chance for wins in 2013.

3) Bill Cubit's influence.

Clearly the biggest offseason addition to the staff, Cubit has been the main driving force for generating hope this offseason.

Page: I've been saying this all offeseason, so I don't have to drown you in the same, raging ocean. Cubit will help Scheelhaase, Beckman and everybody else he's close to.

He's coached for far too long and has too much charisma not to impact the program on multiple levels.

4) Something to sell.

A few quick facts: Illinois led the Big Ten with four players selected in April's NFL Draft. That extended a streak of at least four Illini players chosen in each of the last four drafts. 16 Illinois players have been picked since 2010, the most in the Big Ten.

Page: I'm sure you realize, but recruiting after a 2-10 season is not easy. This staff is doing everything it can to hang in the race with the kids it's targeting. Early playing time, the redemption story, the home state narrative… NFL draft picks. Whatever it takes. Whatever you've got.

5) Always be makin' progress.

Beckman used the word progress eight times. He said 'excited' 11 times. Of course, every coach in every conference talks like this in July. But Beckman also made it a point to say the team is not looking back to the past and last year's dismal effort.

Page: Yawn. What else is he supposed to say? Win, lose or else -- nobody will remember anything said at Big Ten Media Days.


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