New Quarterback Coach Familiar With Role

Three Illinois assistant football coaches departed for other schools over the winter, and they were all replaced. But it created some additional changes as well. For example, since former offensive coordinator Mike Locksley also coached quarterbacks, Illini receiver coach Kurt Beathard was named the new quarterback coach.

Illinois head coach Ron Zook explained the decision to move Kurt Beathard to quarterback coach.

"Kurt was a quarterback as a player. He's been a quarterback coach most all his career. The less new things Juice (Williams) has to hear, the better he's gonna be.

"Kurt Beathard is a great quarterback coach. Kurt has coached receivers, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks. I just felt that was the best way to go."

Beathard says the transition has been a smooth one.

"It's good. I've been coaching quarterbacks for so long, quarterbacks and receivers, it's like being home. I played it and had a chance to coach it for quite a few years.

"I liked the opportunity to coach receivers. It was good to get back into receivers for awhile. It helps both positions. It's good to switch positions once in awhile."

Quarterback is always an important position on a football team, and it is Beathard's responsibility to make that position function smoothly. On the positive side, having an experienced senior quarterback in Juice Williams helps. But Williams is accustomed to Coach Locksley, so adjustments are required by both parties.

"Basically, we have to establish a relationship so he knows what to expect from me and I know what to expect from him. By playing the position and coaching it for quite a while, hopefully I can bring things and make it a little bit clear to him.

"But that also helps with him maturing too. This process would have kept going whether Coach Locksley was here or not because of his maturity and playing experience."

Juice has shown an ability to complete long passes and sideline tosses, but he has had occasional problems with midrange passes over the middle. Beathard says this is not due to the size of the offensive and defensive linemen between him and the receiver.

"I think part of it was him believing what he sees. One of the things we're trying to tell him right now is to throw what you see. If you see something open, I want you to throw it. Whether it's right or wrong right now, throw it.

"Instead of waiting, waiting, waiting, increase his anticipation time. As his anticipation time speeds up, his accuracy will go through the roof. He's got to trust what he sees. At times, he does a great job of throwing it on time and explaining what he saw beforehand. And obviously, the ball's coming out cleaner.

"He's not sitting there waiting for something to come open. He's anticipating it coming open. If that happens on a regular basis, his efficiency should go way up."

Junior Eddie McGee is Juice's experienced backup, but everyone wants to learn more about newcomer Jacob Charest, who redshirted last fall and is an unknown to most fans. Beathard recruited Jake out of North Carolina and knows his abilities well.

"He has the ability to throw the ball anytime you want. He's not known for his running ability, as far as presenting this offense, but you can see his arm strength and anticipation makes up for the lack of things he does in the run game."

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