Looking for a Star to Shine

As expected, B.J. Bello took over the starting role at Star Thursday in practice. But a surprising name took reps at the position with the No. 2 defense.

CHAMPAIGN - The Illinois coaching staff made a few personnel changes Thursday to account for Eric Finney's absence due to injury.

The scheme and style wasn't altered though.

Redshirt freshman B.J. Bello slide right into Finney's place in the starting lineup in the afternoon session, with the calls and plays run at a customary clip.

"B.J. did a good job today," coach Tim Beckman said.

The surprise move was made with the No. 2 defense.

Although 235 pounds and a middle linebacker, sophomore Mike Svetina spent time at the position during the morning practice. The transition wasn't difficult for the Ohio native, according to Beckman.

"That's what he did in high school," he said. "He was really an outside 'backer that moved. We knew he could get big. He's 235 pounds, but yeah, he moves well in space."

Safety Earnest Thomas did not take any reps at the position in question, Beckman said, but the junior remains another possible candidate if needed.

"As a football coach you put your 11 best on the football field and find places for them to play," Beckman said. "That's what our intentions are right now."

Finney met with doctors Thursday morning to determine the severity of his knee injury.

The results should be known Friday, according to Illinois coach Tim Beckman.

"We'll probably have a great idea what that thing will be probably (Friday) morning, so I'll be able to give you an exact update," Beckman said.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore injured his knee near the end of the morning session Wednesday, walking gingerly before leaving the field on a cart.

While hoping for good news about Finney's status, Beckman said the staff has no plans to alter the game plan if a long-term replacement takes over.

"Not really, no not much," he said. "One thing that I think we in the secondary, the defense, the players know it and it complements what they've learned so we're able to move people around."


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