Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

Ramsey helps Illini tackle a tough test against Louisiana-Lafayette
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
print story
email story
Published: 9/11/2008 12:06 AM

Send To:





Freshman slot receiver Jack Ramsey has yet to play for Illinois because of lingering academic issues with the NCAA.

But Ramsey can go a long way toward earning every dollar of his scholarship with a banner week of practice.

Ramsey, who started at quarterback for two years at Simeon High School, has returned to his old position for the scout team.

He's busy portraying Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Michael Desormeaux, an option wizard who rushed for 1,141 yards and 7 touchdowns last year.

The Illini host Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

Desormeaux kicked off this season with 146 yards in just 16 carries when the Ragin' Cajuns lost 51-21 to Southern Mississippi on Aug. 30.

If all goes right during Illinois' practices, then Ramsey should need extra time in the cold tub to recuperate.

"Jack's a pretty quick guy," said Illinois coach Ron Zook. "We're more concerned about our guys getting used to grabbing hold and tackling guys."

Between Desormeaux and senior tailback Tyrell Fenroy, who owns 3,327 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career, Illinois' rushing defense will receive its most severe test of the nonconference slate.

Will the Illini pass the test?

Well, the NCAA's stats show them 101st in the country and last in the Big Ten in rushing defense as they've allowed 201.0 yards per game. They're also giving up 5.4 yards per carry, which is dramatically worse than last year's 3.7 yards per carry.

"Obviously we've given up big plays and that's the things we said we couldn't do," Zook said.

"The thing that I've been a little bit - I don't want to say concerned, but frustrated with - has been our tackling.

"We haven't tackled very well. If you tackle the way we're supposed to tackle and the way we can tackle, a lot of this stuff doesn't happen."

Bustle brags: Louisiana-Lafayette coach Rickey Bustle and Illinois' Ron Zook spent a year together on Frank Beamer's staff at Virginia Tech.

But here's the more relevant connection between Bustle and the Illini: He was Virginia Tech's offensive coordinator when Michael Vick made his splash on the national scene.

Bustle sees more than a numerical resemblance between Vick and Illinois' Juice Williams.

"I think they are very similar," Bustle said. "I kind of look at Juice and see what people used to see when I was coaching Michael Vick at Virginia Tech. He's a heckuva athlete that's grown up in the offense. He's more mature. He's throwing the ball better."

Williams ranks sixth in the country in total offense with 379.5 yards per game.

Williams also has accounted for 7 touchdowns in two games, but some of that production is offset by his 5 turnovers.

Hoop Legends: Former Illinois point guard Deron Williams doesn't save all of his assists for the floor.

Williams's Point of Hope foundation is hosting the "Illini Hoop Legends for Charity" dinner Friday night at the Palmer House.

Tables and tickets are still available at or 888-599-4483.

Everyone from Johnny Kerr and Mannie Jackson to players and coaches from the 1989 Flying Illini to players and coaches from the 2005 national runner-up will be on hand.

Then, on Saturday night, Williams hosts "A Night of Legends" at Assembly Hall.

The game loosely pits the 1989 team against the 2005 team, though recent Illini stars such as Brian Cook and Frank Williams likely will join forces with the 1989 squad.

There are still $15 tickets available for the 7 p.m. game, which hopes to get some spillover from the football game several hours earlier.

At the conclusion of the Legends game, 30 jerseys will be raised into the Assembly Hall rafters in the school's first such acknowledgment of its great players of the past.