"Every throw is great."
If you want to know why the Illini picked Wes Lunt to be their starting quarterback on Wednesday, that's the explanation given by offensive coordinator Bill Cubit.
"Every throw is great. It's great on decision, it's accuracy, (whether) it's a hard throw, easy throw," Cubit said. "And then you look at the scoring zones, you're looking at third downs. There's like 15 different things you're always checking out there, and he came out ahead. I think part of it's skill set. He can get the ball into some tight sets, so you look if somebody's playing tight man-to-man, who can get the ball in there? We just thought that he was the best one to give us a chance to win right now."
[MORE BIG TEN: Illini tab Wes Lunt as starting quarterback]
Lunt was named the starter Wednesday, bringing to a close a three-way quarterback battle between the Oklahoma State transfer, Wheaton Warrenville South product Reilly O'Toole and Bolingbrook grad Aaron Bailey. While many assumed that Lunt's ability and physical gifts made him the favorite from the get-go, the others offered their own advantages. By all accounts, O'Toole had the best knowledge of Cubit's offense and had stepped up as a team leader this offseason, while Bailey had the incredible athleticism he flashed at times last season.
But in the end, it was that pure ability that made Lunt the best option for Illinois.
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Head coach Tim Beckman said that Lunt separated himself from his two competitors during camp, and that was evidenced by Lunt's practicing with the No. 1 offense in recent days and weeks.
"I think what Wes has shown throughout spring football, throughout two-a-days, the 20 practices we've had, the number of reps I've given him — 1,200 snaps, 750 passing attempts — throughout all of camp, if you look at the numbers, he's proved that he can lead this football team," Beckman said. "He's made some outstanding throws, made some outstanding calls, like coach Cubit likes for him to do. It was a tough decision. We've got three very capable quarterbacks, and Wes Lunt was the one that ended up performing in the end."
So now it's Lunt's time. During a series of starts during his freshman year at Oklahoma State — which he described as a "whirlwind" earlier this summer — Lunt threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Now at a new school, Lunt needs to make sure that every throw is great.