Juice Keeps Great Performance in Perspective

Isiah "Juice" Williams was rewarded for his outstanding play at Michigan last Saturday by being named Big Ten Offensive Player Of The Week. After amassing 431 yards of total offense, the most ever at Michigan Stadium, Williams was humbled by the award and praised his teammates.

"I try not to think about it individually. I can do that when January comes around. It was a great feeling being player of the week. I was blessed with the opportunity to put on a great performance in front of 100,000 fans, and I was glad I was a part of it.

"I think of it as a group award. It's a team effort, and because of my teammates I was able to go out and make plays. There were opportunities out there for the offense, and we were able to take advantage of them."

Receiver Arrelious Benn was the recipient of six of Williams' throws for 122 yards. He had no doubt Juice would be given this honor.

"He earned it. Coming out and leading the team and the offense, he did every last bit of what he's supposed to."

Michigan tried everything they could to disguise their blitzes and coverages, but Williams burned them repeatedly. As a mature junior, he now has the confidence and experience to overcome defensive tendencies and provide a peak performance.

"If you know the game plan, you watch them all week on film, you know what they're going to do regardless of what they show. That's the way it was last Saturday. I knew what those guys were doing before they actually did it even though they showed different things. It helps to prepare."

Juice was walking gingerly after practice Monday, his bumps and bruises still not healed completely from the hard-hitting Michigan game. But the win more than made up for any temporary inconvenience.

"Definitely. Anytime you get a big win on the road against a great team, you have momentum and guys are feeling much better. Injuries heal a little bit faster. It should definitely give us momentum going into the rest of the season."

It has been a month since the Illini played before their home crowd. A bye week and road jaunts to Penn State and Michigan have made them hungry for their own fans. Juice and his teammates are looking forward to the game with Minnesota.

"You get tired of the boos and hearing people say negative things about you for two straight weeks. It's Homecoming, so we should get a lot of praise. It's always great to come out of the tunnel to applause instead of boos."

After two consecutive emotional games, will it be hard for the Illini to play inspired ball against the Gophers?

"It's Homecoming, and it's hard not to get up for Homecoming. It should be a fun weekend. You've got a lot of alumni coming back. We'll see a lot of orange this weekend. It should be a great opportunity for these young guys to experience their first college Homecoming."

The Illini needed the Michigan win to regain their swagger and motivation for the rest of the season. Juice sees this as a springboard for a positive future.

"I definitely think the win last week will give this team some momentum going into the rest of the season."

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