McGee to start at QB for Illinois

Updated: October 8, 2009, 8:14 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

After a 1-3 start, Illinois has decided to make a change at quarterback.

Senior Juice Williams has been benched in favor of junior Eddie McGee for this week's game against Michigan State, Fighting Illini head coach Ron Zook announced on his radio show Monday morning. McGee, who has filled in for Williams multiple times during the past three seasons, will make his first career start against the Spartans.

Zook said Sunday on a conference call with reporters that he was considering changes at every position, including quarterback. Williams is a four-year starter and the Big Ten's most experienced quarterback, but he has struggled this season, ranking last in the league in pass efficiency (101) and throwing four interceptions and only one touchdown.

McGee is 19-for-30 for 211 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions on the season. He has appeared in 19 games in his career.

"Believe me, this is not all on Juice," Zook said on his show. "The poor guy has at times played extremely well, but the thing you try to do in athletics is you're trying to get a spark.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction. This is a lot of thought and what-if, what-if, what-if. But the bottom line is we're in a part of our schedule now where we've got to go play."

McGee led Illinois to its only victory Sept. 12 against Illinois State after Williams went down with an injury early in the first quarter.

Williams, who has made 38 consecutive starts, became Illinois' career total offense leader last Saturday against Penn State. He led the team to the 2008 Rose Bowl and set total offense records in three stadiums last fall before a steady decline.

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com

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