Like so many dual-threat contenders, after showing enormous potential early on his career, Juice Williams has digressed -- failing to develop his arm at the same pace as his legs. As a result the Illini saw the effectiveness of a vibrant spread option that led them to the Rose Bowl in 2007, plateau in 2008.
Although Williams did slightly increase his completion percentage during that time, he also threw 25% more interceptions -- disrupting budding drives. To truly reach his potential in his final season at the helm, Juice needs to get back to basics.
Juice Williams (Illinois)
- Security/Ball Placement (B+): Juice "tomahawks" his non-throwing hand down from the ball a little early, but he does give the ball a solid "pat" on the retreat, to boost his grip.
- Retreat Speed (B): Williams lallygags a bit on the drop, often leaning forward before devoting his full motion to the retreat.
- Footwork (A): Juice gets just the right elevation on the points of his toes. Dances neatly in the pocket on quick outs and slants; glides nicely on longer drops.
- The Fake (B+): Juice commits both his arms and steps into the back for a mostly effective sell, although sometimes he half-asses it. The most impressive part of William's fake is how quickly he pulls the ball away and gets back into the pocket. Surprisingly, I couldn't find many examples of his pump, which makes me wonder if he's using it as effectively as he could be.
- Adaptation (A-): Like most dual-threat athletes, Williams is sharp and accurate on the run.
- Survey (A): Juice checks his reads quickly and effectively. Appears to get a 180 degree view of the field.
- Stance (B-): Juice stands up on his toes before the release. The result is an unsteady stance.
- Step (C+): Williams only kicks his leg halfway, keeping his toe down in a horse-like gallop. The move limits his power and stability.
Wrist/Throw (B): Although he snaps his wrists properly, Juice doesn't completely follow through on the release, letting his arm hang limply across his chest. The general arc of his throws is flat, and angular.
[Editor's Note: I used live game footage to complete this evaluation.]
Big Ten Report Card: