Nathan Scheelhaase looks iffy to play Saturday

John Supinie

CHAMPAIGN -- Hobbled by a sprained ankle, Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase looked Tuesday like he's a long shot from starting his 28th straight game.

Scheelhaase wore a purple jersey signifying he's out of practice, and he walked onto the field late. He never ran and didn't take any snaps with the offense. He only worked on light rehabilitation drills.

"He was out there and dressed,'' Illinois coach Tim Beckman said. "I think he'll be able to do a little bit tomorrow. If you're not playing by Wednesday, it's awfully tough for you to go out there and be a starter and play a full football game. It will be my decision, but I won't announce anything.''

When Illinois (1-0) plays at Arizona State (1-0) on Saturday (9:30 p.m., ESPN), backups Reilly O'Toole and Miles Osei could share the snaps.

"We'll prepare for him not to play,'' said co-offensive coordinator Chris Beatty. "If he can, we'll adjust from that. We need to see him practice a little bit, see him run a little bit, be able to protect himself.

"It's a long season. It's a marathon, not a sprint. You sit back and think that he's in the best position to be there for the next 11, 12 weeks and not just one week. We want to make sure he's close to 100 percent. If not, we feel good about the other guys. They'll get it done. They'll lead us to where we need to go.''

O'Toole and Osei combined to run four series in the 24-7 win over Western Michigan after Scheelhaase was injured in the third quarter, and the Illini didn't secure a first down behind the backups.

The Illini also had a new look Tuesday on the offensive line with Michael Heitz moving from right tackle to left guard. Simon Cvijanovic, who served a suspension in the opener, took Heitz's place at tackle.

John Supinie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSupinie.