Illini QB takes a beating, sees attack limited

Illini QB takes a beating, sees attack limited

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has taken a beating this season, one like no other Big Ten quarterback.

The Illini (2-7, 0-5 Big Ten) have given up 32 sacks, 10 more than any other team in the conference. Scheelhaase has been on the receiving end of most of those, and it's shown.

The junior has missed part or all of four games with an ankle injury and a concussion. And Illinois' coaches, with the whipping Scheehaase has taken in mind, have further limited the struggling Illini offense. The game plan as the weeks have passed has changed to include more protection and to cut down on the downfield passes that are were a relatively small part of the offense to begin with.

``I don't want the quarterback hit,'' coach Tim Beckman said Monday, explaining how Illinois had cut its downfield attack to get the ball out of Scheelhaase's hands in a hurry and protect him. ``You have to. You have to keep your quarterback healthy.''

That lack of downfield passing has been one of Illinois' offensive weaknesses this season, and one of a number of factors that have cost the Illini in their six-game losing streak.

The most recent defeat, 52-22 on Saturday at Ohio State, is a good example.

Scheelhaase was 19-34 for just 96 yards. His average completion covered just 5.1 yards, and, even limiting his time in the pocket for long, downfield throws, he was sacked four times by the Buckeyes. And with Ohio State pulling away in the second and third quarters, Illinois had no way to get down field in a hurry and put points on the board.

But Scheelhaase said Monday he thinks he and the Illini are starting to do a better job of avoiding pressure - using rollouts, draws and screens to keep the defense off balance - and the big hits he's so often taken.

``It's not just an offensive lineman blocking the guy in front of him,'' Scheelhaase said. ``We're doing a better job of just switching it up so the defense doesn't always know.''

Scheelhaase said, though, that he doesn't think his health or vulnerability to injury should limit what Illinois can do.

``I think, honestly, you get into a season doing treatments and things, you almost forget what it's like to be a hundred percent healthy,'' he said. ``I feel like my body's good enough to where I can make the plays that I want to make.''

Scheelhaasse said he hopes the Illini can go downfield just a little more Saturday at home against Minnesota (5-4, 1-4).

While Illinois has dialed back its offense to protect Scheelhaase, the Illini on Saturday were able add to speedy cornerback Terry Hawthorne's responsibilities, and see just a little of the weapon Beckman hoped before the season that he might be.

Hawthorne has struggled with injuries this season, too, including a concussion. He's missed one game and been limited in a number of others.

But he senior stepped in to return kickoffs Saturday against the Buckeyes and had the best day Illinois - accustomed to special teams struggle under both the first-year Beckman and his predecessor, Ron Zook - has seen from a return man in a while.

Hawthorne averaged 26 yards a return, including a 45-yard return.

``I was glad to see him back there because he definitely made some plays,'' Beckman said. ``Terry being kind of dinged up a little bit has put on the back burner some of the things we wanted to do with Terry - to be on offense a little bit, to be back in the return game.''


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Patrick Corbin's contract is insanely backloaded, but that's S.O.P. for the Nationals

Patrick Corbin's contract is insanely backloaded, but that's S.O.P. for the Nationals

The specifics of the six-year, $140 million deal Patrick Corbin signed with the Nationals have come out, and unsurprisingly, much of the money is backloaded. 

Here are the details, courtesy of Jon Heyman:

As you'll notice, the Nats will be paying Corbin $35 million in 2024, his age-35 season. That's an $11 million jump from the previous year, and $22.5 million more than he'll be making in the 2019 season. 

That may sound like a lot of money to be paying an aging pitcher in the final year of his deal. But with the Nats, that's standard operating procedure.

To demonstrate, let's take a look at the contracts of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, Washington's other two marquee starters (contract details found on

Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nats before the 2015 season, the average annual salary sitting at $30 million. However, he's only been receiving a base salary of $15 million a year -- plus signing bonus money and incentives -- through his first four years in D.C.

Why? His contract is very backloaded: starting in 2019 until his contract expires in 2021, he'll start earning a base salary close to or more than $30 million. In addition, much of his money is deferred: from 2022-28, Washington will be paying Scherzer $105 million, good for $15 million each year. 

As for Strasburg, his contract includes an even more dramatic salary jump than Corbin's or Scherzer's. Since he signed his seven-year $175 million deal, he's earned base annual salaries of $10.4 million, $15 million and $15 million from 2016-18. 

In 2019, that number balloons to $35 million, then down to $25 million in 2020 and back to $15 million in 2021 and 2022, before rising once again to the tune of a whopping $45 million in 2023!

In conclusion, the Nats will be paying their top three pitchers a ton of money, but Washington has decided to delay cutting those checks to give themselves more financial flexibility in the present. 



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Wizards vs. Celtics: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch


Wizards vs. Celtics: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The Wizards(11-16) hosts Bthe Celtics (16-10) on Wednesday night inside Capital One Arena for the first of three matchups of the 2018-19 season.

The Wizards dropped a Monday night contest in Indiana, despite an All-Star performance from Bradley Beal who poured in 30 points without John Wall in the lineup. 

The Celtics, without Kyrie Irving, defeated the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night thanks to a 31-point performance from Marcus Morris. 

One of the more recent and compelling NBA rivalries is back. 

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, and more:


What: Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
Time/Date: Wednesday, 12/12/18 at 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington (7:00 p.m.)
Live stream: You can watch the Wizards vs. Celtics live stream on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. . Download MyTeams now for full postgame coverage and 24/7 Wizards news.
Radio: 1500 AM


6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Celtics
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live 
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 


Wizards: Dwight Howard (out, lumbar microdisectomy procedure)

Celtics: Aron Baynes (questionable, left ankle sprain), Gordon Hayward (doubtful, illness), Al Horford (questionable, left knee soreness), Guerschon Yabusele (out, right ankle sprain) 


Number of all-time Meetings: 302 games (22 playoff games)

Regular Season Record: Celtics lead series 188-114

Playoff Record: Celtics lead series 13-9

Last Meeting: Wizards beat Celtics 113-101 on 4/10/2018