As the the Wolverines continue their experiment to determine the ideal Tate Forcier:Denard Robinson ratio, Michigan football fans have become well aware of the pros and cons of a two-quarterback rotation.

They’ve seen the highs and the lows — hoping for plays like Robinson’s jaw-dropping impromptu sprint to the end zone against Western Michigan and cringing when they see plays like his game-clinching interception at Iowa or his two-turnover performance against Penn State.

But through it all, the Wolverines have come to accept the good and the bad, as Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has committed to playing both his freshmen quarterbacks since two-a-days in August.

Tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., the Wolverines (5-3 overall, 1-3 Big Ten) will face an Illinois team that will employ a two-quarterback rotation. But unlike Michigan, the Fighting Illini are cycling through field generals out of desperation.

Senior Isiah “Juice” Williams will split time against Michigan with redshirt freshman Jacob Charest, who brings more of a traditional pocket-passing attack to the Illinois attack.

“Everybody says they don’t want to be a two-quarterback system, and I’d be another one to say that,” Illinois coach Ron Zook said during his weekly Tuesday press conference. “But a lot of people do it and a lot of people have success with it. I think the thing we’re trying to do, just like everyone else, is to do the thing that’s best for us and what gives us the best opportunity to win.”

Coming into the 2009 campaign, no one would have questioned Williams’s spot atop the Illini’s depth chart. A starter since his freshman season, Williams led the Big Ten in total offense in 2008 while compiling almost 4,000 combined yards on the ground and through the air. Of course, arguably his best game last year came against Michigan, when he racked up 431 yards of total offense, the highest individual offensive output in Big House history.

But it’s been a tough year for one of the Big Ten’s most dynamic players. His 107.51 passer rating ranks 99th in the nation. That’s 27 spots below Forcier, whose struggles as of late have been well documented, and 14 spots behind Miami (Ohio) quarterback Zac Dysert, whose RedHawks are winless through eight games.

“I had a long talk with Juice yesterday,” Zook said. “It never really came up. Juice wants to win. He’s pulling his hair out. The biggest thing we have to do with Juice is that everybody’s pounding on him and he has to somehow separate that stuff. He’s done it before. It’s a confidence issue.”

Illinois (1-6, 0-5) has been searching for other alternatives. Williams was benched for backup quarterback Eddie McGee against Michigan State, but McGee didn’t last long, going just 2-of-8 for 31 yards before he was relieved by Williams.

The problem may have been that Williams and McGee, who are both dual-threat quarterbacks, just play too similarly to give the Illinois offense a discernible advantage.

“With Eddie and Juice there wasn’t a lot of game planning and not a lot of difference,” Zook said. “When you game plan against Juice and against (Charest), there’s a little bit of difference. Now you actually are dealing with a little different animal.”

Zook decided to give Charest his first-ever game action last week in the Illini’s 24-14 loss to Purdue.

Charest went 4-of-8 for 52 yards against the Boilermakers, and Zook said he was “very pleased” with the former three-star recruit who threw for almost 8,000 yards in high school.

“It’s one thing going into a game plan knowing you’re going to play in the beginning of the year when everybody’s optimistic, and another going into a game under those kinds of circumstances and pressure and needing to win,” Zook said of Charest. “I was very impressed with him. I thought he did a good job … and I think he can give us some help.”

While Zook wants to be supportive of his senior quarterback, his team is still looking for its first Big Ten victory — and its first win against Football Bowl Subdivision competition, for that matter.

And so in an attempt to salvage their disaster of a season, the Illini’s quarterback carousel will continue.

“They’re both going to be out there, and I think Juice understands that,” Zook said. “I’m not trying to dodge the question or anything like that. They are both going to play and as I said, Jacob gave us some things that I’m excited about. You see that ball come off his hand quick and he stuck it in there well.”

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