Even after second player of week honors, Williams still seeking perfection



By Daniel Johnson

Juice Williams may be the biggest perfectionist Illinois football has had in some time.

After passing for over 300 yards and rushing for 100 against Michigan, he joins Northwestern’s Zak Kustok and Michigan State’s Drew Stanton as the only players to accomplish the feat in Big Ten history. Williams leads the Big Ten and ranks eighth in the nation in total offense, in addition to accounting for 65.1 percent of Illinois’ first downs this season.

All of the accolades and statistics were amplified after the performance against Michigan, the 25-point win that was the highest point total in Illinois history against the Wolverines.

For these reasons, and his other performances, Williams was awarded the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.

Williams shared the Offensive Player of the Week award with Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis in the first week of the season.

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And even so, Williams still thinks he needs to be doing more. He’s still looking for his best game.

“I mean, I’ve been hearing that the past couple weeks,” Williams said when asked if he thought his performance against Michigan was his career best. “From the Missouri game, to the Eastern Illinois game, to now, it was a great performance, like I said. Some may say it’s the best, but, I believe, there’s still room for improvement.”

Although the Illini signal caller may still be focusing on self-improvement, the Michigan defense had its fill of his dual-threat game Saturday.

“We had saw him on film from last year,” Michigan linebacker Obi Ezeh said after Saturday’s game. “But the story of today was just him making big plays.”

Williams and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley both spoke at length Saturday about how the quarterback was able to make mature, veteran decisions simply.

Now in his third year in the offense, Williams is finding his stride during the period when most players start to flourish in their offensive scheme.

“The more that we prepare throughout the week, the more you know what’s going to happen before it actually does,” Williams said. “And when it’s like that, things just happen naturally. You see a blitz coming, you see a guy is unprotected, your natural instinct becomes to just throw the ball away. Obviously, I struggled with that early in my career, throwing the ball away, but it comes with experience and actually knowing what’s going on before it happens.”

Williams’ defensive equivalent on the Illini was not overlooked either following his standout performance against Michigan.

Linebacker Brit Miller received the Conference accolade this week as well.

“It was a great feeling, it was great to do it with a fellow teammate and it was great to do it at Michigan,” Miller said. “Any other place I think I would have liked to do it, other than here, would have been Michigan.”

And even though it was done against Michigan, for a record-setting amount of yards, in front of a crowd of over 109,000, Williams still is looking for adjustments he could have made in his last performance.

“Every game I could change something,” Williams said.

“There were plays when I missed receivers pretty bad, there were plays I could have audibled out of. Even though the plays worked successfully, there’s something that could have gone wrong and cost you. There’s always things that you can always change.”