USA Today // Noah K. Murray

Illini QB Chayce Crouch out for season

Sophomore quarterback underwent surgery earlier this week

CHAMPAIGN - Injuries continue to pile up for the struggling Illinois offense.

Sophomore quarterback Chayce Crouch had season-ending surgery earlier this week, Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said. The injury is suspected to be a shoulder injury.

"Massive blow to us," Smith said following a 40-17 loss to Minnesota on Sunday. "Chayce was doing some good things, but injuries happen. (He's on the) road to recovery. Rhab has already started for him."

Crouch, who replaced starter Wes Lunt (back injury) during the Purdue game, suffered the injury during the Illini's 24-7 win at Rutgers two weeks ago, though he finished the game.

With Lunt out the last two weeks as well, Illinois has started Jeff George Jr. the last three weeks. Lunt dressed on Saturday, but Smith said he was not available to play.

"He is getting better," Smith said of Lunt. "He's dressed so that's progress in the right direction."

Smith said that Malik Turner, who left the game on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons, is doing well and met with his teammates in the locker room after the game.

Freshman wide receiver Dominic Thieman also left the game with a right leg injury. The severity is not yet known, but Thieman did not put any weight on it as two trainers helped him off the sideline and to the locker room.

The Illinois offense, which has averaged just 208.5 yards per game the last two games, is running low on playmakers.

The Illini lost two important offensive weapons during the spring. Sophomore receiver Mike Dudek, a 2014 Freshman All-American,  and redshirt freshman Dre Brown both suffered season-ending ACL injuries for the second straight spring.

"It changes what we can do," Smith said. "Now, it's a race to see all that we can do. Ideally, you'd like to say if you have trouble there (in the pass game) to run the football more, but we got to beat people up front to move the football. They won the up-front battles a few times more than we did today. You adjust based on what you have, and we realize we have injuries right now."

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