Illini RB Josh McCray Out For Big Ten Opener at Indiana

Illinois sophomore tailback Josh McCray left Memorial Stadium on crutches after suffering a right knee inury and will be inactive for the Big Ten opener at Indiana.

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

August 29, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Ron Johnson/USA Today Sports)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois will be without sophomore tailback Josh McCray for its Big Ten Conference opener at Indiana.

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema confirmed Monday in his weekly media conference that the Illini’s second-leading rusher from last season will be inactive after suffering a right knee injury in the 38-6 win over Wyoming this past Saturday.

On a five-yard carry late in the third quarter last weekend, McCray was unable to get off the Memorial Stadium and training staff had to help the 240-pound tailback from Enterprise, Ala. to the sidelines as McCray was unable to put any weight on his right foot. Following the 32-point victory on Saturday, McCray was seen leaving the stadium on crutches but Bielema said Monday he was still waiting for further results from medical testing to assess any potential length of the tailback’s absence.

“Josh McCray, I know he won't be with us this week," Bielema said. "I just don't know the long-term prognosis to where he's at.”

In a backup role to Chase Brown, who was named co-Big Ten Conference Player of the Week, McCray finished the blowout win on Saturday with 33 yards rushing on eight carries along with two receptions for seven yards.

Indiana will be opening its 2022 season with a new defensive coordinator (Chad Wilt) after the Hoosiers finished eighth in the Big Ten in stopping the run by surrendering 148 yards per game on the ground.

When Illinois (1-0) travels for its first game at Indiana (Friday, 7 p.m. CST, FS1) since 2013, the Illini tailback depth chart will obviously be led by Brown but then there’s a debate to the backup spot as Bielema made a point to get 16 total snaps of action between senior Chase Hayden and sophomore Reggie Love III.

“I think any game where I’ve gone into as a head coach, you need three (tailbacks),” Bielema said.

Love’s 46 yards on three carries was highlighted by a 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter when he rolled over the top of a defender but never touched the ground so got up and finished his first career score at Illinois. Hayden, who has played for Bielema at both Arkansas and Illinois, finished with 28 yards on seven carries against Wyoming and Illinois fans might be getting its first look at freshman Aidan Laughery after the former three-star signee sat out last Saturday’s game with what team officials classified as “a soft tissue” injury.

Bielema added on Monday that freshman wide receiver Shawn Miller ais awaiting tests after suffering an unspecified injury but said no other player who left the game will be inactive against the Hoosiers on Friday night.

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