“We have to be successful with both Josh and Donovonn running the football and taking the ball on the perimeter,’’ said Beckman, referring to the rest of the year. “I’m happy with the way we move forward. And now the real time comes, your conference play. That’s what you work for and prepare for every year.’’
And Scheelhaase believes the play of the tight ends on Saturday will bode well for Illinois.
“We are going to need those guys come Big Ten time,’’ he said. “There will be times we will need to get big and we need to have those guys in there to run block and catch passes. We’ve seen our receiver group step up. We’ve seen those running backs make plays. I think seeing the tight end group make a whole lot of plays will present another threat for teams to worry about.’’
Illinois, which eclipsed last year’s win total (2) on Saturday, will enter Big Ten Conference play next week with the team’s first road game of the year at Nebraska.
“It’s definitely a better feeling than we had last year,’’ said Brown referring to being 3-1 after going 2-10. “But the main thing I’m thinking about now is getting into Big Ten Play. This is when the real season starts.
“We have been taking it week-by-week, but getting into the conference play is when you get to see teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin and of course, we’ve got Nebraska coming up.’’
The Fighting Illini will be looking to snap a 14-game conference losing streak next Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln Neb. The last Big Ten victory for Illinois was a 41-20 win at Indiana’s Memorial Stadium on Oct. 8, 2011, during the Ron Zook era.
“We see the upside of what we can have,’’ Bentley said. “We know we are going into the Big Ten Conference, which is tough, so we have to come in and prepare every week. We just need to learn the game and make the plays when they come.’’