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Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Juice shaky, running backs shine at Illini practice

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Last season, Illinois fans got a taste of good Juice (total offense records in three stadiums, including the Big House) and bad Juice (nine interceptions in the last five games).

Those in attendance Wednesday at a blustery Memorial Stadium for Illinois' full-pads scrimmage saw both sides of Juice Williams but left with a slightly sour taste about the Illini senior quarterback.

Williams looked solid in 7-on-7 red zone drills, firing touchdowns to Jeff Cumberland and dynamic Florida transfer Jarred Fayson. But Williams threw at least four interceptions, two of which went to cornerback Travon Bellamy, who appeared to injure his neck after making a pick in the end zone. Walk-on cornerback Nattiel Perkins also picked off a Williams pass.

"We got the best of him out there," cornerback Tavon Wilson said with a smile. "We compete like that every day, though."

Illini fans shouldn't be too concerned about Williams, who has loads of experience and a ton of weapons at his disposal. But seeing that limiting turnovers was one of head coach Ron Zook's top two goals for spring ball -- limiting big plays on defense was the other -- Wednesday's mistakes shouldn't become a habit.

There were several bright spots at the practice, and here are my other observations.