CHAMPAIGN – This time, it's different. Instead of waiting on the sidelines for the call to go in, Jacob Charest will likely be the quarterback on the field at the start of the game.
"It doesn't feel too much different," Charest said. "I just know a lot more of the responsibility is on me this week."
On Monday, Illinois coach Ron Zook listed Juice Williams as doubtful for Saturday's game against Northwestern. Williams didn't practice Monday.
"We held Juice," Zook said. "He's in there getting treatment. I think it's more important that he gets treatment right now."
Zook hasn't ruled out Williams for Saturday. But it would take a quick recovery from an ankle injury suffered against Minnesota.
"Juice is a tough guy," Zook said. "We'll just have to wait and see. I wouldn't count him out."
If Williams doesn't play, redshirt freshman Charest will make his first college start. He is three weeks removed from his first college game, playing in relief at Purdue on Oct. 24.
He didn't play in the Halloween afternoon win against Michigan. But he worked the final three quarters against Minnesota, leading the Illini to three touchdowns.
"He doesn't get too excited," Zook said. "He's just calm."
Each week, Charest has been adding more to his repertoire. Against Purdue, he had "about 10 plays."
"Now, it's expanded to a good bit of the offense," Charest said.
He went from no reps or few reps in practice to starter reps.
"It seems like in the last four weeks, time has fast forwarded about two years," Charest said. "It's all just happened so fast."