Illinois football didn’t look good on offense against Penn State, and I think it could cause a quarterback controversy in Champaign.
Coming into the season, Ole Miss transfer Luke Altmyer was the clear favorite to be the starting quarterback. The Illini needed a solid replacement for Tommy DeVito, and Altmyer seemed to be the next logical move.
Altmyer was also a highly-rated recruit coming out of high school. It is not every day that you get a four-star quarterback walking through the doors of Memorial Stadium. Altmyer was the No. 196 player in the class of 2021. This was the opportunity for him to get a fresh start with a new team and for Illinois to get a solid signal caller for the next two or three years.
The first couple of games for Altmyer were bumpy, but that was expected. I didn’t think he would come out of the gates throwing four touchdowns per game. But I did expect solid quarterback play.
Altmyer threw for 206 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the win over Toledo. This was a close game, but Altmyer helped pull Illinois through for a victory. His numbers were decent, but I figured he would build on those numbers in the next game.
Against a weak Kansas defense, Altmyer came out and didn’t play well. Setting his running aside, Altmyer through the air was 19-of-28 for 202 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions against the Jayhawks.
On Saturday against Penn State, this was a bit of a prove-it game. I needed to see something out of Altmyer that would give me confidence in him moving forward.
That didn’t happen.
Illinois football should have a quarterback controversy brewing between Luke Altmyer and John Paddock
Altmyer didn’t just play poorly against Penn State. He had one of the worst games from an Illinois quarterback in recent memory.
In the first quarter alone, Altmyer was 6-of-12, 50%, for 47 yards and two interceptions. He followed that first quarter performance up with a two-interception third quarter as well.
The final straw for Altmyer was that final interception late in the third quarter. Illinois ended up pulling him after that throw. Altmyer finished the game 15-of-28 for 163 yards and four interceptions. In stepped Ball State transfer quarterback, John Paddock.
Paddock looked bad on his first drive. This is expected when you haven’t thrown a pass all season and you just come off the bench. He was 1-of-5 for eight years, and Illinois punted the ball.
The next drive for Paddock was much of the same. Illinois ended up punting after he went 1-of-2 for four yards. But after that, things started to click for the talented experienced quarterback.
On the very next drive, Paddock was 4-of-5 for 32 yards. This drive ended with a nice throw to freshman Malik Elzy in the end zone. A score was a refreshing sight.
Paddock looked good on the final drive of the game as well. He was 4-of-4 for 85 yards. It ended short of the end zone because time ran out, but the offense was moving, and this hadn’t happened much in the last few games. Paddock finished the day 10-of-16 for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Listen, I realize that Paddock was playing against second and third-string players from Penn State. I don’t think Altmyer’s time is done, and he is probably going to start against Florida Atlantic. But you better believe I think there should be a quarterback change.
The spark that this Illinois offense had under Paddock was fun to watch. The Illini offense has weapons, and Paddock is someone who can utilize those weapons to their full extent. At a minimum, there is a quarterback controversy. For me, I think it is time to make a change and see what Paddock can bring this offense.