College football spring practice 2013: Illinois inches toward a starting QB, Pitt seeks Shell's replacement


If Pitt and Illinois spring football doesn't get you excited, you've come to the wrong place.

Saturday is a huge day for spring games across the country. 31 FBS teams play their annual intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, including schools like the Texas A&M Aggies, the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Louisville Cardinals and the South Carolina Gamecocks, among many notable others. But a handful of schools played their spring games Friday.


The Illinois Fighting Illini haven't named a starting quarterback heading into fall camp, but Tom Fornelli at the Champaign Room seems to think they have their man in Nathan Scheelhaase.

In general, Fornelli liked what he saw out of the offense in its second spring under coach Tim Beckman.

Things look a lot quicker and the Illini offense is getting off a lot more plays. I also like the way the offense is set up with shorter to medium routes for our quarterbacks because neither of them really have huge arms. I also enjoy the way this offense utilizes the running backs.

Reilly O'Toole is up against Scheelhaase for the quarterback job, but he threw four interceptions in the first half of the game Friday. Scheelhaase finished 24-of-32 for 210 yards and one touchdown. O'Toole was 24-of-52 for 362 yards, two scores and four picks.


After it was confirmed Rushel Shell would transfer away from the Pittsburgh Panthers, the search was on for who would step up to replace him, who was second on the Panthers last season with 641 yards rushing. Isaac Bennett had a good outing in the spring game Friday, and Cardiac Hill's analysis seemed to favor Bennett as the starting back moving forward.

Don't get me wrong - I still think most of us would prefer Shell if he wanted to be here, but Bennett could be just fine. He ran for 114 yards and a touchdown, and ripped off a nice 48-yard touchdown run. It was only one game, but Bennett showed some big play ability last spring, so it's safe to say he's capable of ripping off some nice runs.

Quarterback Chad Voytik got most of the snaps in the game Friday, and he was on point. He finished 27-of-33 for 358 yards and three touchdowns.

Cardiac Hill identified the kicking game as a potential problem based on Friday's spring game. The Panthers missed both field goal attempts in Friday's game, both from 42 yards. Incoming freshman Chris Blewitt -- still in high school and obviously not able to compete in spring practice -- is expected to compete for the placekicking job.

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