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B1G 2011 // Will Nathan Scheelhaase Have a Sophomore Slump?

Point - Nathan Scheelhaase Is 100% Bound for a Sophomore Slump

Dude's gotta have a nickname eventually because that 20 letter name is a bitch for story editing. Scheely? Burning down the Scheelhaase (Chris Berman LOVES that one)? NSFW? I dunno. Someone, somewhere, work on that shit. Crazy name aside, NS is absolutely headed for a slump. There are three keys that scream "worst stats" and "more turnovers."

First Factor - No Mikel Leshould and no dominant O-Line leads to more men in the box, less passing lanes, less space on the rollout. Last year, when the Illini got rolling against say, Northwestern or Michigan, NS would fake a toss or handoff left, rollout right and see this in front of him




And that's what happens when your O-Line is mauling opponents all year and your running back is attracting attention of NFL scouts. Jon referred to Illinois as having the Big Ten's best run attack in 2010; I'm sure Wisconsin would maybe take some issue with that, but hell, pick your own poison. Save for MSU and OSU (two spectacular run defenses), the Illini could run on anyone. Tosses, option, naked boots, bootlegs, dives, traps, delayed handoffs, great counter runs...It was a little bit of everything. So that led to...

Second Factor - NS didn't have to complete incredibly difficult passes in 2010, which is of course a) the point of the Illinois offense, which discouraged multiple reads and deep dropbacks and b) exactly what you want a frosh doing. Oh my god are we going to spend this first half complimenting how NS was handled and directly saying Ron Zook prepared his team well for games? WOW.

In sum, 2010 was a perfect storm for NS to succeed. 2011 will feature less defenders in the box, more defenders in the secondary, and a ton of defenses schooled on keeping NS from rolling out of the box. Amazingly, Scheehaase had a 130+ rating last year, absolutely unheard of for a freshmen on a mediocre team. Combine that shockingly high rating with his 17-8 touchdown to INT ratio, and I just cannot imagine a repeat performance.

Third Factor - It's Illinois football.

Counterpoint - Nathan Scheelhaase is Ready for More Success Thanks to his Outstanding Athleticism, Experience, and Improved Mechanics.

Nate spent much of 2010 throwing off his backfoot and scrambling for his life. He was 19 years of age. His 190 lb. frame survived the season without major injuries...

And you're telling me he's going to get worse? Scheelhaase isn't a game manager who caught a miraculous year. He's a four star athlete whose middle name should be Moxie. He will put on a few lbs, earn even more trust from his coaches, and come out ready to make throws that the 2010 version of NS could only dream of. Rittenberg has already commented on the improved Spring Game mechanics, the quicker release which looks different than the loopy 2010 delivery.

Some may claim that lack of weapons might doom the Illini offense (Jarred Fayson is gone also). To that I say: Scheelhaase has the physical tools and mental makeup to be the ultimate weapon.The Illinois offense doesn't ask the wide receivers to make incredible catches, just to be in the right spots.

Being at Illinois sucks, historically, and maybe he's the next Adam Weber, but all signs point to the this year's Illini being led by a mature veteran with an improving arm.


This week...

MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | Point/Counterpoint

WEDNESDAY | Ron Zook Expose


FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close - Rival Blogger Interview