So far this season, Illinois’ tight ends have combined for 21 catches, 256 yards and six touchdowns.
Cubit says the tight ends are a key piece of his offense, both by design and in how senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase makes on-field decisions.
“(Using them) gives your wideouts a little bit of a break so they’re not out there trying to get open 40, 50 plays,” Cubit said. “And then Nate — in that whole package, Nate’s really in charge.”
One of those touchdown passes Saturday was a ball lofted high to the back of the end zone over a pair of RedHawks defenders in the direction of Wilson. The 6-foot-6 tight end leaped over everyone to pull down a ball that looked as if it were headed out of bounds.
Scheelhaase said he’d known for a while that he might be able to throw balls up high and have Wilson or others out-jump the coverage. But, seeing it done in a game gives him real confidence.
“I think — and we talked about that this last week — that there were going to be opportunities in that game, kind of even if they were covered,” he said. “It was still really our best option to kind of throw it up high to those guys.”
Big days against Miami, winless and statistically among the worst teams in the country, are one thing. Having a big day in the Big Ten opener Saturday at Nebraska, would be another.
But Cubit says the prospect of a tougher pass rush from the Cornhuskers won’t keep him from putting his tight ends in positions to catch balls down the field again on Saturday.