Remember when a sophomore named Juice Williams led Illinois to a questionable Rose Bowl berth which ended in a whomping at the hands of USC? Kid was the future of a rising power in the Big Ten. Well, two years later, Juice Williams has been benched and the Illini are 1-3 after going 5-7 in 2008. Backup quarterback Eddie McGee will start on Saturday.
This is a typical Ron Zook move. He thinks switching quarterbacks will fix the fact that Illinois’ defense sucks and that they have exactly one playmaker on offense (Arrelious Benn). Eddie McGee fixes none of that. He’s just a younger Juice Williams.
Williams was Illinois’ leading passer AND rusher in 2008. He’s leading the team in passing (naturally) and in carries again this year, though he has four interceptions. He IS the Illinois offense. They don’t have a running back who can dominate like Rashard Mendenhall did two years ago. Eddie McGee is second on the team in carries, and has exactly the same amount of touchdown passes (1) as Juice Williams. Yes, you read that right. The two leading ball carriers on Illinois are BOTH quarterbacks.
These guys were splitting time all season anyway, so how is moving McGee to the starting role going to change anything?
My point is this: you can’t put the entire offense in one guy’s hands, basically setting him up to fail, not recruit any new talent to replace the old talent, and then yank him when the inevitable happens. Especially after McGee barely played last year, and then he and Williams are basically splitting snaps this year. That’s a recipe for disaster, which you can expect from Ron Zook.
I’ll admit I haven’t watched much Illini football this year, but you have to wonder whether their ass-tastic start is Juice Williams’ fault or if it’s because of the head coach who has a proven track record of screwing up coaching decisions, personnel decisions, and game decisions.
Correct me if I’m wrong (and I could very well be), Illinois fans, but I think it’s pretty clear that after a great year, this new Illinois meltdown is totally Ron Zook’s fault, and Juice Williams is just a red herring.