September 27, 2002
Desperate Illini could
w z put end to 'M' streak
Lloyd, Young will test
young Blue secondary
By Joe Smith
Daily Sports Editor
Illinois wide receiver Brandon Lloyd
has aspirations of becoming the next
big-time anchor on SportsCenter. The
junior, who interned at Fox Sports Mid-
west this past summer, wants to get a
chance to use his own repertoire of
catchy phrases on the ESPN television
show when he gradgates.
But for now, Lloyd will just stick to
watching his big-play catches getting
plastered on highlight shows.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Biletnikoff
Award candidate had 60 catches for
1,006 yards last season. Along with
senior Walter Young, Lloyd and the Illi-
nois receiving corps will pose a tremen-
dous test to Michigan's secondary
Saturday in Champaign.
Boyz II Men
Illinois boasts a trio of experienced
wide receivers in Brandon Lloyd,
Aaron Moorehead and Walter
Young. Here's a look at what they
were doing in their freshman sea-
sons way back in 1999:
Lloyd: Set Illini freshman receiving
record with 511 yards.
Moorehead: Averaged 15 yards per
reception, proving he could balance a
"Leisure Studies" major with football.
Young: Caught a 31-yard touchdown
pass in Illinois' comeback win against
Meanwhile, current Michigan cor-
nerbacks were busy in high school:
Markus Curry: Placed first in the 800-
Zia Combs: Starred as a wide receiver
at Henry Clay High School (Ky.)
Marlin Jackson: Practiced his Heis-
man pose in front of the mirror.
"With the skill they have offensively,
Illinois will challenge us in a way that
we haven't been challenged yet," Michi-
gan coach Lloyd Carr said.
Averaging nearly 600 yards in total
offense over the past two games, Illinois
(1-3) knows how to spread a defense out.
And despite losing star quarterback Kurt
Kittner to graduation, John Beutjer, a
junior transfer from Iowa, has emerged
from the Illinois quarterback carousel
and seems to be finding his touch. Beut-
jer has racked up 703 yards and eight
touchdowns in his two starts this. year -
against San Jose State and Arkansas
State - and he is ranked second in the
conference in passing efficiency.
What makes this challenge from the
Illini different, Michigan safety Julius
Curry said, is that they have so many
weapons that you can't just lock Marlin
Jackson on the top receiver.
"They have four of the best receivers
in the Big Ten this year," said Curry,
who is coming off a two-interception
performance against Utah last Saturday.
"Everyone is averaging over 11 yards
per catch and that is real hard to beat."
Illinois' ability to extend the field
vertically may not bode too well for a
Michigan defense that has been giving
up too many big plays. The Wolverines
gave up five plays of more than 20
yards against Notre Dame and three
more against Utah last Saturday.
"We've seemed vulnerable to the big
play," Carr said.
Although Michigan's defense seemed
to be its strength against the Utes, Illi-
nois vast array of experienced weapons
could help some young Wolverines
such as Markus Curry and Zia Combs
see what they're made of.
"It puts (Curry and Combs) in a posi-
tion where they have to make big plays
and stand out," Julius Curry said.
"Either they are as good as everyone
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Writer
Illinois receiver Walter Young emerged as one of the nation's top talents in last
season's Sugar Bowl loss to Louisiana State.
says or they are not."
Julius was surprised his brother
Markus spent last Saturday on the side-
lines, apparently benched for his lack-
adaisical effort on a few long pass plays
by Notre Dame the week before.
"He took it pretty hard," Julius said
of his brother. "He learned from his
mistake. He has a lot to prove to the
team and everyone back home."
And if the Michigan secondary does
slip up, Lloyd and Young plan to be
ready to pounce. Both had an interesting
offseason, as Lloyd - a former high
school state champion in high jump and
hurdles - spent most of his extra time
on the track working out. And Young,
Who: No. 14 Michigan (3-1) at Illinois (1-3)
When: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ABC
Latest: Illinois looks to regain its Big Ten
Championship form of a year ago against a
Michigan team trying to find consistency in
both teams' conference opener.
who caught 50 passes for 890 yards last
year, joined the Illinois basketball team.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior saw
action in two games, but left the team
after the Assembly Hall floor began to
take a toll on his knees.
But Young's knees haven't hampered
him as of late, as he caught eight passes
for 153 yards and a touchdown against
San Jose State last week. And despite Illi-
nois losing two of its three games by
three points, the defending Big Ten
champions hope their first home win
against Michigan since 1983 will help
turn the barrage of boos at Memorial Sta-
dium toward an opponent for a change.
"Their fans absolutely hate us," said
Michigan offensive lineman Tony Pape.
"Their fans are right on top of you.
They are screaming obscenities down at
you. It's funny to hear, but it kind of
gets in your head a little bit."
Looks can be deceiving.
While defending Big Ten Champi-
on Illinois is stumbling into confer-
ence play with a 1-3 record and has
plenty of questions that need to be
answered, No. 14 Michigan could
just as easily have the same record.
The Wolverines, who squeaked
out victories at home over Washing-
ton and Utah, have just as many
concerns to address as the Fighting
Illini, making Saturday's Big Ten
opener in Champaign a dangerous
game for Michigan.
MICHIGAN PASSING OFFENSE VS.
ILLINOIS PASSING DEFENSE: The two
units in question have been equally
inconsistent. Michigan quarterback
John Navarre has shown signs of
improvement from last season, but
his numbers are almost identical
through four games. He's. been able
to feel pressure in the pocket much
better, but his throws are frequently
erratic and put his receivers in awk-
ward positions. But those same
receivers haven't helped Navarre
much. Their drops and fumbles have
killed drives and have forced
Navarre to begin to focus more on
one receiver, sophomore Braylon
Edwards will have his hands full
with one of the top cover corners in
the Big Ten, Eugene Wilson. But
Wilson and the Illini defensive
backs have not picked off one pass
this season, and they have shown
vulnerability, giving up 408 yards
passing in their loss last week to
San Jose State. The key will be
Navarre's ability to find different
receivers, such as tight end Bennie
Joppru, to take some of the focus
away from Edwards.
MICHIGAN RUSHING OFFENSE VS.
ILLINOIS RUSHING DEFENSE: The Illini
have been ravaged on the ground,
giving up 285 and 201 yards in
ILLINOIS PASSING OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN PASSING DEFENSE: The Illi-
nois passing attack is thriving
behind newly named starting quar-
terback Jon Beutjer. The transfer
from Iowa won the job from Dustin
Ward and has since thrown nine
touchdowns and just three intercep-
tions. Beutjer can throw to three
explosive receivers in Brandon
Lloyd, Walter Young and Aaron
Moorehead, giving him a chance to
survey the entire field and keep all
of Michigan's corners on their toes.
Michigan's cornerbacks have count-
ed on Marlin Jackson to shut down
half the field, but Illinois will
divide the field into thirds and
fourths for most of the game. The
Wolverines will count on their
experienced, yet inconsistent, core
of safeties to keep the Illini at bay.
losses at Missouri and Southern
Mississippi, respectively. Oppo-
nents are pounding Illinois up and
down the field, scoring 10 rushing
touchdowns to just three passing.
The Michigan running game has
been solid, a s Chris Perry has
emerged as a consistent threat on
the ground. Perry has run for 102
yards per game thus far, but his
fumbles have kept the running game
Look for Michigan's offensive
line, which has had trouble getting
the necessary push near the
goalline, to control the game and
punch the ball in the end zone
against a weak Illinois run defense.
ILLINOIS RUSHING OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN RUSHING DEFENSE: Illinois
is rushing for 176 yards per game
thanks to the trio of Antoineo Har-
ris, Carey Davis and Virgil Morris.
Harris gets most of the work, as
he's rushed for more than 400
yards. While the Illini runners been
effective, the offense will likely be
centered around the pass against, a
Michigan run defense that is giving
up fewer than 100 yards per game.
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