Illinois prides itself on being ahead of the game on a lot of things (i.e. marching bands, Homecoming, etc.), but one area most people would not consider the Illini ahead of its time in is with quarterback play.
While the spread offense was not truly embraced by coaches and programs in college and the NFL until recent years, the Illini have been running versions of it for nearly a decade, going as far back to Juice Williams and Nathan Scheelhaase.
After portions of three years with Wes Lunt as Illinois’ starter, Chayce Crouch will get his chance in 2017 to use his legs and arm and be the dual-threat quarterback that Illinois fans have grown to love over the past decade.
Crouch never really got to show the explosiveness he can provide in an injury-plagued 2016 campaign, but he has the confidence of his team and coaching staff entering 2017.
The redshirt junior completed 18 of 32 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown last year, which is more than respectable for someone who was not expected to have any starting time during Lunt’s senior season. Crouch even became the first Illini QB with 100-plus rushing yards in a single game since 2014 when he entered late in the first half against Purdue.
Crouch has a big enough frame to push through opposing defensive lines and the decision-making skills to take care of the ball. While the arm lacks some “oomph,” Crouch’s ability to run should give Illinois’ offense a different look in 2017, one that should have many fans at least excited about change.