Illini quarterback's hand wasn't seriously injured, just bruised, according to coach Ron Zook. Illinois hosts Purdue Saturday.

 

CHAMPAIGN -- The news is good for Illinois on the football field, where the Illini are poised to make a run in the season's second half. On Sunday, the news was just as good. After suffering a bruise on the top of his throwing hand, Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is fine, coach Ron Zook said. The swelling had already diminished in Scheelhaase's hand.

Illinois (4-3 overall, 2-2 in the Big Ten) hosts Purdue (4-3, 2-1) at Memorial Stadium Saturday (11 a.m., TV TBA). With Purdue's depth chart possibly taking another hit, the Boilermakers might go with freshman quarterback Sean Robinson, the former Rochester High School star.

Q: Did the injury affect Scheelhaase against Indiana?

A: Scheelhaase apparently injured the hand when it was stepped on during the first half, Zook said after the game, but his playing time was never limited by the injury. 

"Nathan didn't miss anything because of the hand,'' Zook said.

The Illini planned to use senior Eddie McGee more in the D.C. package, the Illini's version of the wildcat formation. With McGee improving from a severely sprained ankle in the second week of the season, he's now able to do more as a receiver and wildcat quarterback. Scheelhaase might be the one player the Illini can't afford to lose, although running back Mikel Leshoure and linebacker Martez Wilson would also be on that short list. 

"I didn't think (the injury) was an issue,'' Zook said.

Illini fans didn't want to lose Scheelhaase just when the Illini were building momentum.

Q: What's the rest of the injury report?

A: Running back Jason Ford suffered a sprained right ankle in the fourth quarter, but Zook was "very cautiously optimistic'' about his return this week, but don't be surprised if he misses a game or two. If Ford is unable to play, redshirt freshman Bud Golden would move up the depth chart and likely get a few carries while the Illini lean on Leshoure and senior Troy Pollard.

Safety Steve Hull, who didn't dress against Indiana, would likely be ready for Purdue after suffering an ankle sprain against Northern Illinois. Dr. Jeff Kyrouac, a team physician, underwent surgery to repair a broken leg Sunday after getting hit on the sidelines Saturday.

Q: What's up with Purdue?

A: Boilermakers starting quarterback Rob Henry suffered a laceration on his right index finger during the third quarter in a 49-0 loss at Ohio State Saturday and didn't return. His status for the game at Illinois is unknown.

That could leave the starting spot in the hands of Robinson, who was 6-for-10 passing for 30 yards with one interception against the Buckeyes. He was sacked twice.

Robinson began the season at No. 4 on the depth chart. First-stringer Robert Marve suffered a season-ending knee injury and projected backup Caleb TerBush, of Metamora, is academically ineligible. Purdue made Robinson off limits to the media this week.

"He's a very good talent and was recruited to play this style of offense,'' Purdue coach Danny Hope told the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier. "We're excited about him, but we didn't anticipate him having to be in the big games so early in his career.''