The Daily Illini

Zook still undecided on Saturday’s QB situation

With no starting quarterback named for Saturday’s game at Indiana, Illinois head coach Ron Zook said Tuesday that the coaching staff has been discussing the possibility of putting redshirt freshman Jacob Charest in under center.

Either senior Juice Williams or junior Eddie McGee will get the nod as the starting signal caller for Saturday, but Charest offers a different game than the two dual-threat quarterbacks.

“When Jacob’s in there the offense maybe does change a little bit,” Zook said. “Not that Jacob can’t move around, but the option isn’t exactly his forte. Maybe down the road when we get into those situations, but it’s just hard to get three guys ready to do each week.”

Charest, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound pro-style quarterback from Matthews, N.C., was rated the No. 23 quarterback in the nation by in 2007.

He has yet to play a snap for the Illini.

With only the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart receiving reps during practices, Zook said practice would have to be restructured in order for Charest to receive more reps.

“He doesn’t get nearly the reps (as Williams or McGee),” Zook said. “It’s hard to get a third quarterback in an awful lot of reps. A lot of it is mental.”

Zook hinted that adding Charest to the rotation would come if Williams and McGee fail to provide consistent production.

“Hopefully we don’t, but we might have to make some serious decisions,” Zook said.

A quarterback controversy isn’t anything new to the program.

Williams, whose string of consecutive starts ended at 38 last week, has been competing with McGee for the position since the 2007 season.

“It’s important to evaluate what’s going on,” Zook said. “We’ve been in similar situations before, and they’ve always worked themselves out.”

McGee, Williams named captains

Zook may not have named a starter at quarterback for Saturday’s game, but he said both Williams and McGee were named captains for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

“We’re going to need both their leadership,” Zook said.

Joining Williams and McGee as captains will be defensive linemen Doug Pilcher and Josh Brent, Zook said.

Aikens makes good first impression

After senior safety Garrett Edwards re-injured a strained neck in the first quarter of Saturday’s loss to Michigan State, freshman Walt Aikens filled in for him, logging the first significant minutes of his career.

Helping him along was senior safety Donsay Hardeman, who approved of Aikens’ play.

“He’s a great player, and when your opportunity comes, you can’t let it pass you by,” Hardeman said. “I told him I’d be the teacher, you be the student.”

Zook said Aikens’ play sparked a defense that did notsurrender any points to Michigan State’s offense in the second half of their game.

“He made some things happen,” Zook said.

“You like to see the energy. You like to see the excitement,” he added.

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