Thursday's Camp Rantoul Practice Report

Ron Zook's Fighting Illini had their first two-a-day practice session on Thursday in Rantoul.

Story Courtesy the University of Illinois

RANTOUL, IL – The Fighting Illini football squad enjoyed comfortable conditions in the morning and a cool front in the evening that resulted in a display of lighting and thunder throughout the second practice of the day. The lightning was kept at bay east of the practice fields until the workout concluded with a steady shower. Coach Ron Zook was pleased with the team's effort and the staff is looking forward to Saturday's scrimmage.

"That was perfecting timing," explained Coach Zook about the lighting. "Adrian (head athletic trainer) came out and said you have eight minutes. I said, that's all right we have three more plays. We are not going to put any of the players, coaches or anybody else in danger. We knew where we were at and what was going on but you have to remember, we come from a state where there is a lot of lightning."

"The offense is finally starting to gel," Zook said concerning the first two-a-day. "We had quite a few big plays and the practices were spirited. I think we're beginning to make progress. Today's energy was higher and that's probably why we had a better practice."

The offensive line returns three starters from 2004. Juniors JJ Simmons, Matt Maddox and sophomore Martin O'Donnell all return with a combined 32 starts in 2004. They plan on creating a cohesive unit that can help open holes and provide protection.

Junior Offensive Tackle JJ Simmons
"It's only the third day of Camp Rantoul so there is still a few kinks to work out. There are a lot of things going on right now an we know it's a long process and we are going to get it done."
Junior Offensive Center Matt Maddox
"We've started off pretty rusty in the beginning of camp. We have a lot of young guys on the offensive line with a couple freshmen. Every spot is available so all the guys are working as hard as they can but there are a few things we need to smooth out before we become a dominant offensive line and play Illinois football."

Big Ten Football In High Definition: The Big Ten Conference offices announced Thursday that all Big Ten games appearing in the noon ET ESPN window from Oct. 15 through Nov. 19 will be broadcasted in HD. Additionally, Illinois October 22 home contest against Penn State at 6 p.m. (cst) will air on HD.

Post-Practice Audio from
  • Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook
  • Offensive Line Coach Ed Warinner
  • Secondary Coach Curt Mallory

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