While Wes Lunt’s status is still a mystery moving forward for the Illini, we won’t see Chayce Crouch under center again in 2016.
Crouch, head coach Lovie Smith informed reporters after this past weekend’s game against Minnesota, had season-ending surgery, and he will miss the remainder of the 2016 campaign.
The quarterback position has been in constant flux for Illinois after Lunt was injured in the Oct. 8 loss to Purdue. Crouch relieved Lunt in that game and then started in the win over Rutgers a week later. But to the surprise of many, it was third-stringer Jeff George Jr. who started the last two games against Michigan and Minnesota, with neither Lunt nor Crouch seeing the field in either contest.
Crouch performed admirably since Lunt’s injury. He completed 10 of 14 passes for 142 yards and rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns against Purdue. Against Rutgers, he completed six of 14 passes for 92 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed for 25 yards.
George hasn’t fared nearly as well, though certainly his competition has been much tougher. He was 4-for-15 for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception against the elite Michigan defense, and he was 16-for-34 for 156 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota.
Lunt’s status has been kept under wraps by Smith, though the senior starter was dressed for Saturday’s game, perhaps implying that he could have played in an emergency situation. Smith continued to reveal only that Lunt is continuing to get better.
Crouch has already started rehabbing, per Smith, and could be the favorite for the starting gig next season.