- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Illinois could have beaten woeful Charleston Southern with its B or C team.
Tim Beckman's squad thrashed Charleston Southern 44-0 on Saturday despite missing a large group of key players. Starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase missed his second consecutive game with an ankle injury, and he was joined on the sideline by senior center Graham Pocic, who has a knee injury. Top running back Josh Ferguson (concussion), starting linebacker Houston Bates (leg) and projected starting safeties Steve Hull (shoulder) and Supo Sanni (knee) also sat out.
Making matters worse, starting wide receiver Darius Millines, already dealing with an ankle injury, played Saturday but spent the end of the game on the sideline with his left arm in a sling.
Illinois didn't need any of the players to crush Charleston Southern and received nice performances from several reserves, including quarterback Reilly O'Toole (5 TD passes) and linebacker Mason Mondheim (1.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception).
But the Illini need to get healthy in a hurry, first for this week's tricky test against Louisiana Tech and then next week as Big Ten play kicks off against Penn State.
As of Monday, Beckman isn't certain whether any of the players would be back this week. Some of them missed practice last week.
"I can't say that anybody for sure right now," Beckman said. "... That will be determined as we go through Tuesday, Wednesday."
Scheelhaase continues to practice and make some progress with the ankle, but Beckman isn't sure the three-year starter will return for Louisiana Tech.
"We're not going to put Nathan out there unless he can better this football team," Beckman said. "... We're not being cautious with anybody. He's just not ready."