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posted: 9/4/2012 8:44 PM

Who will start Saturday for the Illini?

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The quarterback spot remained a question mark for Illinois on Tuesday.

A decision on whether or not junior Nathan Scheelhaase will start this week at Arizona State could be made Wednesday, but it may not be public knowledge. Scheelhaase suffered an ankle injury during last Saturday's 24-7 win over Western Michigan.

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If Scheelhaase doesn't play, the starter will be either sophomore Reilly O'Toole (Wheaton Warrenville South) or junior Miles Osei (Prospect).

"It will be my decision," coach Tim Beckman told reporters after practice. "But I won't announce it."

Beckman also said if any player, not just a quarterback, is unable to practice on Wednesday, then he won't be prepared to start in a game on Saturday. So a decision apparently will be made after the next practice.

While Beckman said he thinks Scheelhaase will be able to "do a little bit" on Wednesday, co-offensive coordinator Chris Beatty was less optimistic.

"We've prepared for him not to play," Beatty said. "If he can, we'll kind of adjust to that. We need to see him practice a little bit; see him run, be able to protect himself.

"It's a long season. It's a marathon, not a sprint. So you sit back and you want to make sure he's in the best position to be there for the next 11, 12 weeks, not just next week."

After Scheelhaase left last weekend's game in the third quarter, O'Toole played three series and Osei two. O'Toole picked up the only first down during that time, on a pass interference penalty.

O'Toole completed 2-of-3 passes for 7 yards and ran twice for 3 yards. Osei had 3 rushes for 8 yards and didn't attempt a pass. Beatty acknowledged the Illini were in run-the-clock mode while the backup quarterbacks were in the game.

"(I was) a little disappointed in how we functioned after Nate went out," Beatty said. "Felt we were on our way to having a big game, then kind of just bogged down. That's part of it, too, getting those guys some experience."

If Scheelhaase doesn't play, both Beckman and Beatty suggested the starter's role might be determined by the next few days of practice.

"I feel good about Reilly. I feel good about Miles," Beatty said. "I think those guys had a good day (Tuesday) and they'll get better throughout the week and we'll see where we're at.

"Right now, those guys are splitting reps right down the middle. It's 50-50. We'll look at the tape here and evaluate it and see how we feel. Tomorrow we'll lean one way or the other a little bit more."

Asked if the Illini could rotate the two backup quarterbacks at Arizona State (9:30 p.m., ESPN), Beatty said it wouldn't be his first choice.

"I'm not really big into platooning guys," he said. "I think one guy needs to go out there and kind of be the voice. But at the same time, whatever we've got to do to win, we'll do that too."

Osei, regarded as a strong runner, has thrown 2 passes in his college career and was utilized last season on kick returns. O'Toole completed 40-of-67 passes for 270 yards last year as a true freshman while splitting time with Scheelhaase.

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