CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois safety Matthew Bailey’s 2023 is over before it ever really got going on the field. On the first play of Saturday’s game against Penn State, the sophomore went down in his season debut. Despite coming back into the game, Bailey later went down a second time, ultimately diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder with structural damage, an injury that will force him to go under the knife and miss the rest of the season.
“That one play he had was really good,” Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said. “Over there near the boundary he kind of just put his left hand out and everything kind of piled on top of him. Sometimes guys will have these types of moments and can play with it, but his injury was one where he won’t be able to do that. Wasted no time, no decision to get the surgery done as fast as he can. He’ll look at probably a six month rehab for that. It’s good stuff, but tough.”
Bielema got emotional at the end of his comments on Bailey, who flashed as a true freshman last season. The Moline native had been sidelined since the spring with a foot injury that was reaggravated over the summer. It’s a lost season for Bailey, and the second Illini safety who is out for the fall. Bielema also announced Monday that Demetrius Hill tore his ACL last week. The FIU transfer had been a rotational player for Illinois so far, leaving the unit two players short heading into Saturday’s game against Florida Atlantic.
Illinois offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. says he’s confident Luke Altmyer will bounce back after his four interception day against the Nittany Lions. It’s the first major point of adversity for the Ole Miss transfer, who was removed from the game in the fourth quarter, replaced by walk-on Ball State transfer John Paddock.
“I would assume he’s had bad days like that and moments like that where he felt like he didn’t play his best and was really disappointed in how he played,” Lunney said about Altmyer. “I’m confident that, any quarterback that has had a rough day, they know that they can bounce back. We’re certainly confident that he will and I know Luke feels that way as well.”