Ron Turner, Illinois (32-46 in his seventh year at Illinois, 39-50 overall, 19-3 in the Big Ten). Turner is 2-2 against the Hawkeyes in his career with wins in 1999 and 2000. The Hawkeyes have been off the Illinois schedule for the last two seasons. Turner earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 2001 after leading Illinois to the Big Ten championship and a trip to the Nokia Sugar Bowl and its first 10-win season since 1989. The league title was the Illini's first since 1990. Turner has served as quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or head coach since 1981. During that time he coached quarterbacks such as Jeff Garcia, Erik Kramer, Jim Harbaugh, Sean Salisbury, Rodney Peete and Kurt Kittner. Turner led the Illini to an 8-4 record and a 63-21 thumping of Virginia in the Micronpc.com Bowl in 1999. For his efforts, Turner finished fourth in the Associated Press Coach of the Year voting. Turner came to Illinois after a four-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears (1993-96). In 1992, he was the head coach for San Jose State where he turned in a 7-4 record and a second-place finish in the Big West Conference. Turner served as an assistant at Stanford, Texas A&M, Southern California, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Arizona working mainly with quarterbacks and receivers during his 20+ years in college coaching.
KIRK FERENTZ, IOWA, (28-28 in his fifth year at Iowa; 17-19 in the Big Ten) Ferentz is in his fifth season at Iowa and is coming off a Big Ten Championships season where the Hawkeyes posted a perfect 8-0 conference record and a trip to the Orange Bowl. Under his leadership, Iowa will be looking for its third-straight bowl appearance. Ferentz was an assistant at Iowa under Hayden Fry for nine years coaching the offensive line. He left Iowa in 1990 to become the head coach at Maine for three seasons before taking an assistant job in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens organization. Ferentz has an 0-2 record vs. the Illini.
ADDING INSULT TO INJURY
10/14/00 -- In front of a Homecoming crowd of more than 62,000 alumni and fans, the Illini defense recorded its first shut-out of the year, and Kurt Kittner threw for a career-high 221 first half yards en route to a 31-0 victory at Memorial Stadium. Kittner connected for three touchdown strikes in the second quarter to put the Illini up 21-0. On second-and-goal from the Iowa 1, Kittner hit tight end Brian Hodges in the end zone for Illinois' first score of the game. Just 2:04 later, Kittner found a wide-open Aaron Moorehead 61 yards downfield for another Illinois TD. Less than one minute before the half, Kittner found Moorehead again to make the score 21-0 at the break. Steve Fitts hit the fourth field goal of his placekicking career to start the fourth quarter. The excitement in the fourth came when senior linebacker Mondrian Long picked off a pass and returned it 75 yards for the first touchdown of his career to seal the 31-0 shutout. The Illini D also recorded a record five sacks in the game. Two of Illinois first half scores were the direct result of Iowa turnovers. The 61-yard touchdown strike from Kittner to Moorehead was scored on the possession following Franklin's interception. An Iowa fumble recovered by Brandon Moore resulted in the final touchdown of the quarter. On the day, the Illinois defense forced three fumbles, recovering two.
Second Quarter - ILL: B. Hodges 1 yd rec. from Kittner (Fitts Kick); ILL: Moorehead 61 yd rec from Kittner (Fitts Kick); ILL: Moorehead 23 yd rec from Kittner (Fitts kick); Fourth Quarter - ILL: Fitts 30 Field goal; ILL: M. Long 75 yd int. return (Fitts kick)
First Downs: ILL - 22, IOWA - 15; Rushes-Yards: ILL - 44-169, IOWA - 32-86: Passing Yards: ILL - 248, IOWA - 181; Comp-Att-Int: ILL - 17-28-1, IOWA - 18-34-2; Total Yards: ILL - 417, IOWA - 267; Punts-Avg: ILL - 3-44.3, IOWA - 7-46.3; Kickoff Returns: ILL - 0-0, IOWA - 4-76; Penalties-Yards: ILL - 3-30, IOWA - 9-60; Fumbles-Lost: ILL - 3-1, IOWA - 3-2; Sacks: ILL - 5-36, IOWA - 3-9; Third-down Conv.: ILL - 5 of 13, IOWA - 6 of 16; Time of Possession: ILL - 29:09, IOWA - 30:51
The Illini have played 20 first-year players this season, including seven true-freshmen and eight members of the incoming recruiting class. True-freshman wide receiver Lonnie Hurst became the first Illinois position player to start his very first collegiate game since four players accomplished this feat in 1980. True-freshman E.B. Halsey has made starts in eight of 10 games this season. The two are among seven first-year freshmen to play this season. The others include CB Alan Ball, DL Arthur Boyd, RB Marcus Mason, RB Pierre Thomas and DL Adam Wilk.
Due to the loss of Illinois' top four receivers from a year ago to graduation and the professional ranks, two newcomers started the 2003 opener against Missouri. Those rookies were junior college transfer Kelvin Hayden and true-freshman Lonnie Hurst. Hurst became the first Illini true-freshman receiver to ever start in the first game of his career. He is the first true-freshman position player to start in the season opener since 1980 when four brand new players were in the Game 1 starting line up (DE Terry Cole, DT Mark Butkus, OG Bob Stowe, DB Dave Edwards). Punter Steve Fitts took over duties in his first collegiate game in 1998.
HALSEY MAKING A CASE FOR ROOKIE HONORS
In his eight games played this season (sat out vs. Minnesota with a knee sprain), true-freshman running back E.B. Halsey could easily be called "The Ultraback" with his ability to rack up rushing, receiving and return yardage. He is averaging 59.3 yards rushing, 32.1 yards receiving per game and 148.8 all-purpose yards each contest. He is listed among the conference's offensive leaders, ranking second in all-purpose (ninth in the NCAA), ninth in rushing and third in kickoff return average. He has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches, which was evident by being named a captain for the Illini contest at UCLA and Michigan.
In the season opener, Halsey scampered for 139 yards, becoming the first true-freshman in school history to top the 100-yard mark in his first collegiate game. Three times this season, Halsey has tallied over 200 all-purpose yards. He set a season high with 271 vs. Wisconsin after racking up 222 in the season opener against Missouri and another 239 against Calfornia. He has been heavily involved in the rushing game (464 yards), passing game (255) and kickoff returns (346). ESPN analyst and 1989 Hesiman Trophy winner Andre Ware on Halsey "He is a talent. He returns kickoffs, catches the ball and leads this team in rushing. If he stays healthy, in years to come, we could be mentioning his name in Heisman talks, because he does so much for this offense."