Throw a pick? Do a bear crawl



By Wes Anderson

Reporters entering Memorial Stadium on Monday saw an interesting spectacle at the tail end of the night’s practice. While players finished up their team drills, backup quarterback Eddie McGee was all by himself, hunched over and slowly galloping on his hands and feet across the north end zone – under the watchful eye of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Locksley.

McGee, as it turns out, was being punished with a bear crawl for an offensive miscue during drills. As Juice Williams explained after practice, the quarterbacks’ red non-contact jerseys do nothing to protect them from being disciplined for mistakes.

“If you fumble the ball, have the ball on the ground in the option game or throw an interception, you have to do a 100-yard bear crawl,” Williams said.

In his third year as a starter for the Illini, Williams has shown clear signs of development as a passer in the first two games of the season. However, he still appeared rough around the edges last Saturday against Eastern Illinois, throwing two interceptions in the game’s first six minutes.

Williams said avoiding turnovers is one of his key focuses heading into this weekend’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette.

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    “Take care of the ball, that’s number one this week, ball security,” Williams said. “I’ve been protecting the ball and not throwing interceptions all week, hopefully that will carry over to this Saturday.”

    And although the picks against the Panthers proved inconsequential, Locksley said any interceptions or other miscues by quarterbacks in practice would be reprimanded with rigid consistency.

    “You have to take care of the football. Anytime we have a missed assignment or anytime there’s a ball on the ground or we throw interceptions, you’ve got to pay a price,” Locksley said. “In a game you pay the price with wins and losses, in practice we’re going to pay it with a little physical pain.”

    As for Williams, he claims he hasn’t had to do a bear crawl in a while.

    “Not lately, but I had quite a few in summer camp (in Rantoul). Our defenses gave me a headache a little bit,” Williams said.

    He added that even when coaches are lackadaisical in keeping track of the players’ slow, awkward gait across the field, there’s no way of getting around the punishment.

    “We know how severe a turnover is, so we don’t cheat it. We do 100 yards,” Williams said.