Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest

Article excerpt

Illini's Beckman may tinker with offense

Illinois coach Tim Beckman let his frustration over his offense's inability to get even a yard or two when it needs them show after Saturday's loss to Minnesota, and on Monday said he may make changes.

The Gophers handed the Illini (2-8, 0-6 Big Ten) their seventh straight loss, 17-3. Two big third-and-1 plays cost Illinois.

One in the first quarter forced Illinois to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead and the Illini's only points of the game instead of a touchdown.

The other ended with a Nathan Scheelhaase fumble deep in Illinois territory. Down 10-3, the junior quarterback stretched his ball- carrying hand out across a pile of bodies at the line in a desperate bid to get the yard he needed for a first down to keep a late drive alive. Instead, Minnesota took the ball and scored the touchdown that put it out of reach.

Better short-yardage blocking, Beckman said, is a must.

"If it means personnel changes, we're going to have to get maybe a different guy in there, on the line or maybe in the backfield," he said without naming players he may move or bench.

The line has consistently included three players this season who are sophomores or younger sophomores Simon Cvijanovic and Michael Heitz and redshirt freshman Ted Karras but Illinois is thin behind them.

The Illini have two shots left to end their losing streak, and to get their first Big Ten win in over a year, at home against Purdue (4-6, 1-5) on Saturday and at Northwestern (7-3, 3-3). (AP)

* A University of Houston defensive back left a hospital Monday, six days after a hit in practice tore a major vein that feeds his heart and left him in critical condition. The school said cornerback D.J. Hayden was discharged from Memorial Hermann-Texas Trauma Institute in Houston.

* Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher apologized for using the term "retarded" in response to a question about his team's ranking in the BCS standings that determine which teams play for the national championship. …

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