5 big questions for the Illinois football spring game

It might only be April, but that means we get to see a glimpse of the Illinois football team during the spring game.
Illinois v Iowa
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5. Does Illinois have a strong backup quarterback?

The importance of having a solid starting quarterback in the college game can not be overstated. Illinois has struggled in years past because we couldn’t find a good passer of the football.

It is nice to finally have a good quarterback under center. Luke Altmyer had a decent season in the first year with the Illini. He threw for 1,883 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. If you take away the Penn State game, it was just six interceptions he threw all season.

In Altmyer’s final six games he played in 2023, he had 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. The understanding of the offense and quarterback development were evident. Now he needs to take another step forward and lead this Illinois offense.

Illinois fans also experienced last season what it was like to have a good backup quarterback. Altmyer went down with an injury and in stepped John Paddock. He was a senior who threw for 1,278 yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions.

The Paddock games were wild and gave Illinois some hope of making a bowl game. But Paddock is now gone, and the backup quarterback job is up for grabs. Will someone emerge as the primary backup to Altmyer this spring?

No one on the Illinois roster besides Altmyer has thrown a pass for the program. We do have a couple of solid options for the backup job, though.

Donovan Leary and Cal Swanson are the two who stand out to me the most. Leary has put in his time and has been patient. Swanson redshirted last season as a freshman, and he had a lot of hype coming out of high school. These two will likely duke it out for the backup job.

I wouldn’t count out incoming freshman Trey Petty, though. He enrolled early, so he is around the program and is learning the playbook. He will have a chance to show the coaches what he can do throughout the spring and into the spring game.

Illinois saw what a good backup quarterback can do for a program in 2023. Let’s figure out who the solid backup will be for next season. This spring will tell us a lot.

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