In Brandon Peters, Lovie Smith May Finally Have a Legit QB at Illinois

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It’s only Akron, so a whole lot remains to be seen, but you can’t argue against what you saw yesterday. If there is one thing that Lovie Smith has never really had while he’s been at Illinois it’s this- a true legitimate Big Ten caliber starting quarterback.

So far Brandon Peters looks the part, and he’ll be around next season too, should things work out. If you’re reading this and shouting Wes Lunt, well, you’re simply wrong, and we’ll get to why that is in a bit.

(note: check out my segment talking Illini football on CLTV Sports Feed last week below)

Peters, a Michigan transfer and former four-star recruit, threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another on Saturday, looking (at least for week one) like the missing puzzle piece to Illinois’ wholistic woes. Peters was effective in both throwing the ball, and showing the ability to run with it, as well.

His mobility and effectiveness on the ground was not something we expected. More importantly, Peters was like a really efficient point guard, distributing the ball to all the playmakers effectively.

Including Brandon Peters, six Illini combined to rush the ball 39 times for 208 yards, with the carries being spreading evenly among all the ball carriers.

“He’s dope,” said Illinois tight end Justice Williams.

“He looked awesome today and we are expecting big things from him this year.”

Added Peters himself: “We ran the ball really well which opened up our pass game. We’re going to play off of those for sure.”

We won’t actually know what Illinois is or isn’t until we hit mid-October and get into the meat of the Big Ten season. The Illini pre-conference schedule is so weak this year that we’re not going to learn much until then. What we do know however is that you aren’t going anywhere without a legit starting quarterback, and if you do have one on your side, well, you have a fighting chance.

And it isn’t until year four of the Smith era in Champaign that we have finally seen one. Sure, there was a lot of hype about Lunt, but that’s all it was, hype.

wes lunt

He had a history of being very injury prone everywhere he went before Illinois, and unfortunately, it’s exactly who he was at U of I.

He does have one major record to his credit though- the single season school record for passing efficiency. In 2014, he stayed healthy long enough to throw an adequate number of passes to qualify, and he racked up the stats against the weaker part of the schedule. He missed out on the chance to play the tougher part of the slate, where more formidable opposing defenses would have likely worsened his statistics.

But that’s not neither here nor there. After Lunt, Smith and his staff did a real hard sell to the media that Chayce Crouch was a legitimate Big Ten starting quarterback, but that narrative didn’t hold water for very long. Crouch’s inefficiency and awful statistics shot down that idea rather quickly.

chayce-crouch

Speaking of statistics, maybe Brandon Peters will have a chance to break Lunt’s record this year, or the next. The schedule is certainly very favorable towards doing so.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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