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McGee in, Juice out for floundering Illini

With Illinois’ offense sputtering mightily, Ron Zook said Monday he will go with backup Eddie McGee at quarterback vs Michigan State Saturday (11 a.m., BTN) and sit down four-year starter Juice Williams.

McGee, a fourth-year junior who came to Illinois with Williams, led Illinois to its lone victory this season, a 45-17 rout of Illinois State, when Williams was sidelined by a strained quadriceps muscle after just two plays.

“Believe me, this is not all on Juice,” Zook said on his radio show on WDWS in Champaign Monday. “The poor guy has at times played extremely well, but the thing you try to do in athletics is you’re trying to get a spark.”

No one needs a spark more than the Illinois offense. The Illini, who were expected to be a scoring machine led by Williams and receiver Arrelious Benn, have managed only three touchdowns in their three losses, and all of them have come in the fourth quarter when the game was no longer in doubt.

“This is not a knee-jerk reaction,” Zook said. “This is a lot of thought and what-if, what-if, what-if. But the bottom line is, we’re in a part of our schedule now where we’ve got to go play.”

–Herb Gould