The game against South Florida showed Illinois fans exactly what they’ve suspected all season: the quarterbacks are not very good at all. Chayce Crouch routinely missed open receivers and willingly threw into double and triple coverage. It was so evident that Jeff George Jr. actually came into the game.
While George Jr. was better than Crouch, he was no revelation. George Jr. looked comfortable in the pocket which is more than most could say about Crouch. He made some nice throws, but he was helped out by the great WR core. Ricky Smalling and Mike Dudek both caught passes for an okay gain initially, but then made a move and broke up the sideline.
The Illini then reached and picked up a QB who is eligible immediately. His name is Pete DiNovo, and he is basically making sure that Cam Thomas’ redshirt stays in tact. So the quarterback battle is between DiNovo, George Jr. and Crouch.
Personally, I believe that Crouch will get the nod against Nebraska next weekend, but there is a case for George Jr. as well. George Jr. does look more comfortable, but he does not have a very good record as a starter. Crouch has a solid record as a starter, but sadly, he looks incompetent as a starting quarterback. This dilemma must be hard for this coaching staff, as neither quarterback is good enough to start on a Big Ten team.
Who deserves the start? Chayce Crouch. While he struggles in the pass game, he has had okay moments in the read option. On short third downs, Crouch is often able to run and move the chains. George Jr. is limited in his athletic ability and with a bad offensive line, it may be tough for George Jr. to really get into a groove.
The staff views Crouch as a leader, and with that in mind, I’d expect him to be the starting quarterback in Illinois’ Big Ten home opener.
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