Juice Williams Has One Main Goal...Win

The offense could be the cornerstone of the 2009 Illinois football team. Whenever a three-year quarterback starter is at the helm, a team has a chance to play at a peak level. Illini quarterback Juice Williams is rapidly climbing the career total offense charts, and this fall could be his best of all.

Illinois quarterback Juice Williams is grateful to be playing ball again after a long winter.

"It feels good to get back our here. We've been away from the game for so long seeing as we didn't make it to a bowl game last year."

As upset as everyone was with the 5-7 record in 2008, Juice sees it as motivation for improvement.

"Like I have been telling everybody, missing the bowl game is one of the best things to happen to us. It instilled a sense of urgency in the team, especially for myself and the other seniors because this is our last year and our last opportunity."

The 6'-2", 230 pounder feels like a senior.

"Yea, I do. It's a little different knowing that it is my last year, but I'm going to make the best of it."

After more than four months since the last game, Williams admits to some rust as he begins spring practices.

"I think it'll take a little time. The way this team is going with its attitude and motivation, I don't think that should be a problem at all."

It took awhile for Juice to accept the loss of former offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Mike Locksley, the new head coach at New Mexico.

"There was a lot of anxiety. Losing an offensive coordinator like Mike Locksley, a friend and a mentor, was pretty difficult at first. But I understand the things that come along with college football. Coaching changes are going to occur so you can't sit around moping about it. You've got to make the transition and just keep moving forward."

Learning the ways of a new coordinator may take a little time as well, but Juice and Coach Mike Schultz are off to a good start.

"I think we connected quickly. We spent a lot of time on the chalkboard and what we wanted to accomplish in practice."

Williams answered quickly when asked his first impressions of his new coordinator.

"He likes to go fast. Whether it is breaking the huddle or standing around talking, talk fast and run fast. That's one of the first things I picked up on right away."

Juice admits he has discussed his likes and dislikes with Schultz.

"I've done a little bit of that. But the things that he likes I love to do such as running the quarterback, running the zone read, and throwing the ball vertically down the field."

The Chicago Vocational product also has a new quarterback coach, although he was already familiar with Kurt Beathard.

"He gave us input last year, but he didn't want to step on Coach Locksley's toes. He's a great quarterback coach. He's been around the position for awhile so he knows what he's talking about."

Williams has an excellent corps of receivers to make his passing game flow smoothly.

"Not to brag, but we've got some pretty good receivers out there. It is exciting for a quarterback to be playing in this offense where you've got weapons all around you. That will make the job a lot easier for you."

The offense may have to carry the load this fall until the young defensive unit earns its spurs. That is ok by him.

"That's the mentality for every offense. Regardless of how good your defense is you still have to have the mentality the defense won't stop anybody and you have to put up as many numbers as possible. Our defense is going to be pretty good. We have a lot of athletes on that side of the ball."

Juice Williams has a simple goal for his final season as an Illini.

"Just win. Individual numbers people don't remember. They remember wins and losses. That's something I want to get better at."


Illini Inquirer Top Stories