CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Injuries are adding up for Illinois football and they’re coming at the worst time for a team that’s lost back-to-back games. The Illini (7-3, 4-3 B1G) have gone from controlling their own destiny in the Big Ten West race to needing a lot of help in the final two games after home losses to Michigan State and Purdue. Guys getting hurt hasn’t helped either, with multiple players leaving due to injury.
Heisman hopeful Chase Brown went down late in the loss to the Boilermakers on Saturday with a right leg injury. The running back had to be helped to the on-field medical tent before walking off the field by himself under his own power after the Illini lost 31-24.
“Josh McCray, Chase Brown, both of those guys are trending in the right direction, very positive, excited, but don’t know where we’ll be by Friday for the trip and Saturday for the game,” Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said.
McCray has only played in two games since going down in the season opener with a knee injury. The sophomore running back missed the Purdue game with an ankle injury after getting horse collar tackled against Michigan State.
Meanwhile starting cornerback Taz Nicholson is out for the remainder of the season after dislocating his wrist against the Boilermakers. Bielema said the sophomore had surgery during the course of the game on Saturday, after the medical staff called a doctor out of the stands to perform the procedure at the hospital on Nicholson.
“Incredibly tough young man,” Bielema said about Nicholson. “He played a couple more plays after it was dislocated which is absolutely amazing. Taz was trying to come up with a way that he could go back in there.”
Bielema says Nicholson will have a second surgery during a recovery process that will take 4-6 months to return to normal.
Fellow cornerback Terrell Jennings is also out for the season, while freshman corner Tyler Strain’s status for this weekend’s game is in question. He’s in concussion protocol, along with receiver Pat Bryant, after both players left the game against the Boilermakers.
On a positive note for the Orange and Blue, outside linebacker Seth Coleman has been cleared from concussion protocol and should be good to play at Michigan, according to Bielema.
Illinois and Michigan kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday in a nationally televised game on ABC. The Illini are looking for their first win at the Big House since 2008.