Offense strong in First Spring Scrimmage

The Illini, forced into the indoors practice facility because of strong winds and extremely cool temperatures, held their first scrimmage of the spring. Officials were on hand and the hitting intense.

The offense seemed to win the battle. And perhaps the brightest star on this day was Rashard Mendenhall. He showed both outside speed and inside toughness and was practically impossible for the second string defense to contain. If he continues this caliber of play, the Illini running game will be in excellent hands.

The matchup was first team offense versus second team defense and vice versa. The latest version of the first team offensive line looked like this: Xavier Fulton at left tackle, Martin O'Donnell at left guard, Ryan McDonald at center, Brandon Jordan at right guard and Ryan Palmer at right tackle.

Fulton, while undersized, continues to show the quickness and aggressiveness that are uncharacteristic of offensive linemen. Jon Asamoah is still sidelined with a lower back strain, the main reason Jordan was running with the first team at right guard.

Rather than subjective thoughts, this time will give you the play by play we charted.

First team offense vs. Second team defense

* Rashard Mendenhall opened the scrimmage with a five yard run before Antonio James and Rahkeem Smith brought him down.

* Juice threw a 13 yard completion to Chris James.

* Rashard Mendenhall swept left, broke some tackles, veered back right toward the center of the field and then outran the entire defense for a 50 yard touchdown. He left a pile of grasping arms in his wake.

* Juice's completed pass to Regis Benn lost one yard.

* DaJuan Warren dropped Juice's pass.

* Juice gained 19 yards on a run.

* Juice completed a 14 yard pass to Warren, who made an outstanding diving catch.

* Juice optioned for 7 yards.

* Rashard ran three yards for a tough first down.

* Juice overthrew Chris James in the flat.

* Walter Mendenhall galloped eight yards before Justin Harrison stopped him.

* Juice threw the ball into the outstretched arms of defensive end Jerry Brown, who just missed an interception.

Second team offense vs. First team defense

* Mike Mucha ran for three yards against the first team defense.

* Mucha lost three yards.

* Eddie McGee showed his speed with a 20 yard run.

* McGee overthrew newly converted fullback Erique Robertson in the flat.

* McGee's long pass fell incomplete.

* McGee overthrew Warren.

First team offense vs. Second team defense

* Rashard ran for 7* yards.

* Rashard ran for 2 more yards.

* Juice completed a pass to Joe Morgan on the sideline, who proceeded to fumble the ball over to Rahkeem Smith.

* Rashard had a 14 yard run.

* Anthony Thornhill diagnosed the play and threw Rashard for a one yard loss.

* Juice threw incomplete.

* Juice's attempted throw to Warren was broken up on an outstanding dive by Chris Duvalt.

Second team offense vs. First team defense

* Mucha ran for 7 yards.

* Billy Garza fumbled the snap.

* Antonio Steele stopped Mucha short of a first down.

* Doug Pilcher recovered a fumble.

* Mucha ran for 10 yards against the first string defense.

* McGee ran for no gain on a play called back by penalty.

* McGee sacked by Derek Walker.

* Mucha had a 1 yard gain.

* McGee threw incomplete on a screen pass.

First team offense vs. Second team defense

* Chris James showed good running skills after catching a long pass, expanding a 25 yard gain into a 33 yarder.

* Juice completed a pass to Will Jordan for three yards.

* Rashard broke more tackles on a 29 yard run.

* Jerry Brown made an excellent play to stop Rashard for a loss of one yard.

* Rashard showed excellent inside toughness, running 4 yards down to the goal line.

* Juice quarterback sneaked for a touchdown.

Second team offense vs. First team defense

* McGee option pitched to Regis Benn, who showed tough running to gain 8 yards.

* Mucha lost four yards as Doug Pilcher and Dave Lindquist diagnosed the play.

* Lindquist and Pilcher sacked McGee.

* McGee passed four yards to Chris James.

* McGee optioned to Walter Mendenhall, who was greeted rudely by Chris Duvalt for a one yard loss.

* McGee was sacked by Derek Walker on a coverage sack.

Red Zone Drills – First O vs. Second D

* Rashard was stopped for a two yard gain on an excellent play by Rahkeem Smith and Antonio James.

* Juice passed 6 yards to Rashard before Rodney Pittman stopped him.

* Rashard made a first down on a four yard run.

* Mike Ware and Rahkeem Smith stopped Rashard for no gain.

* Jerry Brown stuffed Rashard for only a one yard gain.

* Brown made a super quick inside move to evade Ryan Palmer to make a quarterback sack and seven yard loss.

* Jacob Hendee made a 28 yard field goal.

Red Zone Drills – Second O vs. First D

* McGee threw to Warren for five yards.

* McGee ran the option for three yards.

* Walter Mendenhall ran for five yards.

* Walter Mendenhall lost the handle on a handoff, losing the ball to Brit Miller.

* Antonio James sacked McGee.

* Garza threw 18 yards to Marques Wilkins, who made a good catch and even better athletic run afterward to gain a touchdown.

Red Zone Drills – First O vs. Second D

* Chris James made a reaching grab for a 17 yard touchdown from Juice.

* Rashard ran for 17 yards.

* Juice threw a ten yard pass to Walter Mendenhall.

* Juice ran 8 yards on an option for a TD.

Red Zone Drills – Second O vs. First D

* Mark Venegoni threw 12 yards to Michael Hoomanawanui.

* Chris Norwell and Dave Lindquist sacked Venegoni.

* Antonio Steele threw Justin Ijei for a 2 yard loss.

* Venegoni threw incomplete.

Red Zone Drills – First O vs. Second D

* Juice tried to lob a pass over Antonio James in the flat, but James made a leaping deflection and interception.

Red Zone Drills – Second O vs. First D

* McGee threw to Frank Lenti, but Vontae Davis and Rahkeem Smith stopped him for no gain.

* McGee threw 15 yards to Benn, who showed good concentration to catch the ball after it deflected through the arms of Rahkeem Smith.

* McGee threw 18 yards to Marquis Wilkins , who held onto the ball despite getting clobbered by Kevin Mitchell just as he caught it.

* McGee threw 12 yards to Judson.

* Judson almost made a diving catch in the endzone on a pass from McGee, but it bounced out as he hit the ground.

* McGee threw into the waiting arms of Rahkeem Smith to end the scrimmage.

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