Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Malik Turner took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Minnesota Golden Gophers’ safety Duke McGhee in the early stages of Saturday’s Big Ten clash. With the team trailing by seven points, Turner was taken off the field on a stretcher and McGhee was ejected for targeting.
The Fighting Illini wide out was fortunately moving his extremities before leaving the field of play while the injury delay lasted just under nine minutes.
Minnesota's Duke McGhee has been ejected after a targeting penalty. We have the play & explanation here. https://t.co/DL9w0BHeGH
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 29, 2016
The junior out of nearby Springfield left the game with two receptions for 10 yards. Quarterback Jeff George, Jr. completed all six of his pass attempts in the first quarter to the tune of 54 yards. As for Turner, he has been a primary target for the Illini offense this season en route to collecting 43 percent of the team’s total receptions.
He entered the weekend with 33 receptions for 513 yards and four scores. Tagged as a deep-threat athlete, Turner had caught a pass of 25 yards or more in five of Illinois’ seven games, including a season-high 68-yard reception in the opening weekend versus Murray State.
Turner is in the midst of his third season as a primary contributor to the Illini offense. Last season, he compiled 510 yards on 39 receptions and added three touchdowns. As a freshman, Turner dipped his feet into the collegiate level by hauling in 25 passes for 256 yards.
The Fighting Illini offense has been underwhelming this season as they entered Week 9 with the lowest amount of plays per game in the nation. Under first-year head coach Lovie Smith, who has sparked some life in Champaign, the program is attempting to turn it around and make a beeline out of the basement of the Big Ten.