Offense Transition Smooth With Mike Schultz

Illinois fans had mixed emotions when Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley was hired as head coach at New Mexico. On the one hand, they were happy for his advancement. On the other, they were concerned about finding an adequate replacement. Mike Schultz has hit the ground running, alleviating many of the fears.

Mike Schultz came to Illinois after 11 successful years as Offensive Coordinator at Texas Christian University. He has an outstanding reputation for leading his offenses to be among the nation's leaders.

He expects his transition to be a smooth one since the Illinois offense is similar to the TCU offense. However, he is undergoing a personal learning process. The plays are the same, but the names are different.

"The football part of it is the football part of it. I'm still going through a bit of a transition but so many things are similar. In Texas we were speaking Spanish, and up here we're speaking English. It's the same thing. I've just got to get through the transition. I mean, we're speaking two different languages, but it's the same thing."

Speaking after the first spring practice, Coach Schultz liked what he saw.

"It was very fast paced. I liked our effort. It's the first day and we've got a long way to go. We got 14 more practices to get better."

It is no wonder he and head coach Ron Zook hit it off so well. Like Zook, Schultz wants everything fast.

"I want to make it an uncomfortable environment on the other side of the football. That means we want to go fast. We want to be in control of the pace. We are going to try to make it an uncomfortable environment."

Illinois has a fourth year starter at quarterback in Juice Williams. How well he and Coach Schultz bond may determine how successful they will be. So far, everything seems to be going smoothly.

"Juice is a great kid. He's easy to work with and a great kid. I'm really excited about the opportunity to be here."

Schultz was highly complimentary of Juice's knowledge and awareness.

"Nothing has surprised me because I have high expectations for Juice. I don't worry about the numbers. I just want to put the best quarterback on the field. I think we are very comfortable with each other.

"When I showed up in January, we got together and we watched film. He took me through the offense. I was very impressed with his knowledge of the game. I have to give Mike Locksley credit because he educated Juice very well.

"When we talked about things, Juice was very, very thorough and was fluent in our offense and our terminology. He could point things out in coverage. I was very excited coming in and he's made the transition easy."

The Illini receivers are a strength of the team, but Schultz prefers to wait before praising them.

"We've been through some morning runs and one practice. It's a little early to say too much. We've got some kids with some potential. We'll have to see how that goes."

Schultz will coach tight ends in addition to his coordinator role. This allows assistant coach Jim Pry to work with all the receivers.

"Jim Pry is going to coach the receivers entirely. I'm the tight end coach. I'm very comfortable with that too because Jim Pry is a veteran coach. He's been around forever and has coached every phase of the game. He's coached offensive line, quarterbacks, and receivers."

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