- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Nathan Scheelhaase was merely a helpless bystander in Illinois' blowout loss at Arizona State. But the junior quarterback hopes to return to from his sprained left ankle this week against Charleston Southern.
"I hope I'm ready," he told reporters on Tuesday. "Treatment has been going well. I've been getting better and better every day. If I'm progressing like I am now, I should be ready."
Scheelhaase said he had trouble walking around on the ankle this time last week, but he practiced on Tuesday morning. Without him at Arizona State, the Illini offense couldn't do much. Reilly O'Toole started and was 10-of-14 for 54 yards and a touchdown, with an interception, while Miles Osei threw a pair of picks.
But Scheelhaase is planning on being back this week.
"I expect to play until I'm told differently," he said. "It's hard enough watching, not being able to contribute at all so I expect to be able to get out there this week for sure."
Realistically, it doesn't matter who Illinois puts under center this week against Charleston Southern, an FCS team that went winless last season and has been blown out by Jacksonville State and The Citadel this year. Giving Scheelhaase another week of rest might even be the best idea, given the competition level. But Scheelhaase is also learning a new offense and has had only one game's worth of experience in Tim Beckman's spread, so more work now may prove beneficial down the road as long as he's healthy.