Coaching staff and teammates excited to have dual-threat quarterback leading team

Illinois+backup+quarterback+Chayce+Crouch+%287%29+runs+down+the+field+during+the+game+against+Purdue+at+Memorial+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+October+8.+The+Illini+lost+34-31.
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Coaching staff and teammates excited to have dual-threat quarterback leading team

Illinois backup quarterback Chayce Crouch (7) runs down the field during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, October 8. The Illini lost 34-31.

Illinois backup quarterback Chayce Crouch (7) runs down the field during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, October 8. The Illini lost 34-31.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois backup quarterback Chayce Crouch (7) runs down the field during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, October 8. The Illini lost 34-31.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois backup quarterback Chayce Crouch (7) runs down the field during the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, October 8. The Illini lost 34-31.

By Mike Gasick, Staff writer

Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee acknowledged how starting quarterback Chayce Crouch will make this year’s offense look different from last year’s.

McGee said that he has liked what he has seen out of Crouch in camp and that his dual-threat style will open up the playbook.

“The first thing that I’m hoping he can bring to the table is to make the other 10 guys play really good,” McGee said. “We’re hoping his passion and intensity all shows up with the other 10 guys with him.”

Head coach Lovie Smith said that defenses prefer to face pocket passers rather than dual-threat quarterbacks.

Crouch ran for 176 yards and threw for 249 last season. He played in only four games, but this year, Smith wants his quarterback to make the most of the opportunity and abilities he possesses to win Illinois games.

He said defenses have an entirely different mindset when they have to account for a quarterback who can run the football.

“Of course, we like what (Crouch) can do throwing the football,” Smith said. “But when that breaks down, you can have production from his legs, and as a defense, you have to account for another man.”

Starting running back Kendrick Foster likes Crouch’s two-way abilities as well, saying that they will open up some space for him on the field.

The senior said running backs head coach Thad Ward has worked well with him and Crouch to be comfortable with different blitzes they will see this year.

“Coach Ward does a phenomenal job with us, (having us not just be) a running back but be the quarterback as well,” Foster said. “He has us reading coverages with the front, but Chayce Crouch…I mean…he can run the ball, and having a running quarterback really helps your odds of winning.”

Smith addresses Hurricane Harvey

Smith began his press conference Monday with a message of hope and prayer toward Texas citizens in Hurricane Harvey’s path.

Smith, a native of Big Sandy, Texas, said he has family members still residing in Texas, but they are safe. The head coach said some things could change, but he does not believe they are in any danger.

The hurricane has produced rainfall totals of up to 40 inches in some areas and has shut down major highways in the Houston area. Rain has continued to fall over the last 72 hours, and Texas’ National Guard has been called upon to aid its citizens.

“With our excitement (around the football team), you kind of have to take a look at what is going on in the world,” Smith said. “We have paid a lot of close attention to what’s going on down there. You have to pray and do what you can to help.”

The team has five players from the Lone Star State, but Smith said he hasn’t heard that any of their family members are in danger.

Dunlap, Corbin uncertain for Ball State

Senior cornerback Jaylen Dunlap and sophomore running back Reggie Corbin were held out of some summer camp practices.

Smith said it is unclear whether the two will suit up for Saturday’s game against Ball State.

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@mike_mgasick