QB problems at Illinois, Notre Dame

| 8 Comments | No TrackBacks

Everybody wants to know what is wrong with the programs at Illinois and Notre Dame. After demonstrating so much promise and potential in 2007, both schools have fallen on their faces this season. And it is easy to see why.

Both schools are hurting at quarterback. Illinois has talent--offensive linemen, running backs and receivers--but Juice Williams hasn't developed as he should have. He is inconsistent. He hasn't improved as a passer. He has the strongest arm in college football but he hasn't gotten better since his freshman year.

Notre Dame recruited a lot of talented high school players in the last few years but they haven't shown any progress in college. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen is a major talent but he hasn't developed as the No. 1 high school player in the country should have in his second year in college. He has gone downhill.

Meanwhile, recruiting goes on.

Illinois entertained 6-1, 205-pound linebacker/running back Jelani Jenkins of Wheaton, Maryland, last weekend. He is a first-team All-American who also is considering Penn State, Florida and Maryland.

Pete White, a 6-5, 330-pound lineman who is the No. 1 prospect in the Washington D.C. area, lists Illinois among his favorites with Maryland, Virginia Tech and Penn State.

But they likely will go elsewhere if Illini offensive coordinator and chief recruiter Mike Locksley opts for a head coaching position. His name has popped up at Clemson and Syracuse.

If Locksley leaves Illinois, it will devastate Illini recruiting because he brings in most of the big-name players, including Arrelious Benn and Vontae Davis. He also helped to bring in Juice Williams. Syracuse could be his destination. The school is looking for a minority coach and the athletic director is a minority.

Notre Dame entertained defensive lineman Mant'i Teo from Hawaii over the weekend. He is my co-defensive player of the year with Ryne Giddins of Senffner, Florida. He went from 80 degrees in Honolulu to 20 degrees and snow in South Bend. The chances of Teo signing with Notre Dame are slim and none and slim left Sunday on the 2 o'clock flight from Chicago to Honolulu. Lesson: You don't bring in a kid from Hawaii to visit your campus in November when it is snowing.

While Illinois and Notre Dame are recruiting good talent but still struggling, Northwestern continues to prove that coach Pat Fitzgerald has a superior evaluating staff. They rarely beat Illinois or Wisconsin head-to-head for recruits but find enough kids to beat them on the field. Evaluating is a lost art in recruiting but NU knows how to do it.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/16858

8 Comments

Juice Williams hasn't improved since his freshman year? Have you actually been watching his development over the past 3 years? Extremely poor analysis, Tom.

NOW EITHER YOU DON'T WATCH FOOTBALL CAREFULLY, OR YOU
DON'T LIKE THE YOUNG MAN, EVERYONE KNOWS THAT JUICE
WILLIAMS HAS IMPROVED FROM HIS FROSH SEASON, HE LED
THE TEAM TO THE ROSE BOWL AS SOPH, THE TEAM AND JUICE
HAD A LITTLE TROUBLE THIS SEASON, BUT TO SAY HE HASN'T
IMPROVED FROM HIS FIRST SEASON, I CAN'T AGREE WITH
THAT ASSESSMENT!
THE YOUNG MAN HAS ONE MORE SEASON, AND THEN THE YOUNG
MAN FROM EAST ST. LOUIS WILL GET THE JOB, AND JUICE
WILL BE IN THE NFL!
I'M GLAD YOU AREN'T A SCOUT!

The problem at Illinois is not just Juice, Illinois has just as much and most cases more talent on the field than any of their opponents. It is the repeated lack of ability on the coaches part to instill fundamentals, discipline, and playing with passion that caused this disastorous season. Up to the last game they were still committing mind-boggling penalties and they never once played with heart and passion for an entire 60 minutes. That's on Ron Zook and his staff.

Last time I checked, when you broke a school record for offense for a a QB that meant you were doing alright...but then I'm not a football expert like yourself

You are totally wrong about Juice Williams. He has improved since his freshman year. If Illinois can get a running game, he will have a great senior year.

Did you ever stop to think that maybe Jimmy Clausen was not the # 1 rated recruit in the country, that he is the latest in a long line of over rated hype phenoms by know it alls like you.? Or that Juice Williams despite having a strong arm was not a strong fundementaly sound quarterback coming out of high school? No because you are a pompous, two faced fake who plays both sides against the middle and beats his chest when he is right (about 50%)and blames coaches on the next level or worse the kids themselves when he is wrong. You make me sick.

Tom:

I normally agree with your opinions on players, but I have to tell you that you are far off the mark on Juice Williams. While Juice still threw some maddeningly stupid picks this year, you could see his maturation from year to year by the touch he was putting on passes in between zone coverages and on long throws. Before he simply threw the ball hard which led his receivers to get a hand on the ball....but tip the ball instead of catching it---often times leading to an interception.

Juice did not play as well as the fans would have liked but he was not the reason why the Illini took a step backwards this year in terms of wins and losses. The issues were more complex than to blame the losses on amy one person. The Illini's run defense early in the year was abysmal. Against Missouri in the first game of the year they could not stop the Missouri running game. The Illini's D-LINE was routinely pushed 5 yards off the line. After the game Coach Zook second guessed his own game plan by saying that, "we were so worried about Mizzou's passing attack, that we used lighter-faster guys on the D-Line so we could get more pressure on Mizzou's QB."

It seemed like the Illini were called for so many moronic penalties this year that it almost became like a comedy routine

Yep, Notre Dame demonstrated "so much promise and potential in 2007." Wasn't that the worst football season in school history?

Don't give up your day job.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on November 23, 2008 2:12 PM.

Watt is All-American was the previous entry in this blog.

Chance takes a chance is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.